Fanfic:Fare Thee Well
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Fare Thee Well, Part I: Miahala & Caden, Into Eternity
This was foolish.
In her more than one hundred years of life, it was undoubtedly one of the most foolish, reckless and suicidal things that she had ever done. Miahala knew it and yet here she was. There didn't seem to be any other option that wouldn't result in equally tragic consequences, and so for the sake of her child, she would take the suicidal risk. Anyone who knew her well knew that her life was nothing in the face of her children, even though most of them were gone now; died ahead of her.
Ryne and Tarvin had been claimed by age, while Tianna had been slain by the Shadow. She only had Haeden and Sadira left. The former was safely sequestered away, but now the latter's life was that which hung in the balance.
She should have waited for Caden, but she didn't think there was time. The head of her daughter's beloved yet aged Warder sat on the desk of the Captain General's chambers, which had the ominous feeling of being left behind for the last time. Behind her too she left the images of her Dream of just last night, which she had not been able to discern but that slowly seemed to fall into place as she hurried through the darkest corridors of the Tower, deep within the ground and haunted by memories of just a few years back.
Too clearly did she remember the death of Lucan and Darrik, the sweet agony of the girl she had almost called daughter, and the near miss that would become Miahala's Happily Ever After. Oh why, oh why had they not stayed there? Were they really that important in the battle against the Shadow? Had they really done anything that made a damn bit of difference except watch time pass by, friends and family die, and their sacrifices be rendered things made in vain?
How had they gotten Sadira and Scerai? How had they killed a Warder as experienced as he? It was too chilling a thought.
When the Green Sister reached the bottom, she sought any sign of a trap and yet found none, nor did she find anyone at all until she reached the very end of the corridor where it had been walled off years ago; perhaps during the Seanchan Siege. Everything certainly had been a mess then, hadn't it? It all seemed to be a mess now, but a new mess. One that Miahala didn't know if she could stand to clean up.
"That was quick," a woman standing at the end of the hall said.
Miahala was first struck by hatred: this was the woman who took her child and killed a man who was akin to a son-in-law. She was second struck by confusion: who was she? Normally when members of the Shadow hated her so much as to take her children, she knew who they were, and she knew most members of the Tower. This woman was not familiar to her, however, and she didn't sense any Illusion at work.
None of this did she allow to show on her face, of course. "You gave me good incentive," Mia replied flatly. "Where is my daughter?"
The woman was clearly an Aes Sedai, because the signs of agelessness were clear upon her face and yet she had to be still young because it was not yet pronounced. The glow of saidar was bright around her and Mia sensed some strength to it. Her hips swayed as she walked forward with a smug smile. "I have her," she said without answering the question. Instead, she pointed up and a black shape fell from the ceiling.
It collapsed on the cold stone floor with a sickening thud. Mia recognized the face of her daughter and kneeled beside her, brushing bloody hair away from her face.
"I didn't actually intend to kill her," the nameless woman continued. "She fought so damn hard after we killed her Warder, however, that I didn't have a choice."
Miahala went cold inside. How many more children was she going to out live? There was only one now. Oh, her sweet Sadira. She had the soul of her father and the strength of the all the Borderlands in her spine. Her beautiful girl. Following in her mother's footsteps up the Great Stair and her father's into the halls of the Blue. She didn't deserve this.
Inside, her heart never picked up its pace but it hit harder.
The stones shook. Once. Twice. Tremors began spreading out from where Miahala kneeled. The earth was singing in a mourning dirge. Thump. Thump. She kissed her daughter's blood covered forehead and realized there were tears on her face that she hadn't felt crying. Thump. The walls trembled.
Later, some in the Tower's lower levels would recall the floors shaking beneath them. They didn't know it then, but they would know later that a mother's rage had made the whole Tower quake.
"You had no right," Miahala said quietly. Thump. She rose to her feet. "You'll pay for this." She felt the power ringing through her.
The woman looked worried, but still... smug. "No," she said. "You will." Her eyes lifted to look behind Mia's shoulder.
Normally, she wouldn't have turned, but she heard something abruptly right behind her and turned just in time...
...to feel the knife slide between her ribs and see the face of Adaegor Jolstraer.
He was supposed to be dead! Hung by the Tower as a traitor and killer... but the dead never stayed when you wanted them to, and would never rise when you wished it. Miahala started laughing, blood tasting bitter on her tongue.
Adaegor sneered. "Say hello to my father," he said, twisting the knife.
Miahala took his face in her hands, leaving Sadira's blood on his cheeks as she let the power of electrocution take his blood. She should have killed him when she had the chance before. "Tell him yourself," she hissed through grit teeth as he started to scream.
Rent inside by the injury to his woman, yet the Oneness keeping his wits intact, the Freak came like a demon out of the Pit of Doom - his blade drawn and teeth bared.
Whilst Adaegor suffered the ripples of energy surged through his limbs, Caden Ives had no tactical reason to linger, so he had to whisk by Miahala and go for the woman beyond - this Aes Sedai that had taken Miahala to the end of the line without him knowing it. How, why and when was irrelevant in the Void, all but his absolute intent remained.
He spread his teeth in a roar that struck the stone walls like a sudden thunderstorm; the only means through which he might stupefy her and loose focus beyond the mere sight of his ghastly face. For with every minimal moment, he closed the distance.
He saw fear in her dark eye. He knew from experience what time he needed. She raised her hands and clenched her teeth. Yet Caden knew... that she was too late.
She fell apart, his cuts as seamless as they were brutal. She was reduced into spasmodic pieces upon the floor. Though for the Reaper, it was far too little for his satisfaction...
...and far too late.
For when he returned to his Aes Sedai, he could but pick her up in his arms.
Coughing and spitting out more blood, Miahala laughed again. It was all so... ultimately ridiculous. She had survived so much and this was what was going to kill her? She looked up into Caden's face and smiled weakly.
"I... I will carry you to the Infirmary," he rasped quietly, his good eye shifting, "A Healer..."
"No," she whispered. "It's too late for that. I... won't be here much longer." She coughed again and gasped. Her breathing hurt. "I'm sorry. I didn't... I didn't think I had any other choice. I'm sorry to leave you."
"You cannot die, and if you... if you would, I would still follow you."
Tears streaked her face as she reached up, ran her fingers over his cheek. "I know. I wish it weren't so, but I know..." She coughed again, swallowing her own metallic blood. "For me?" She smiled weakly. "I know it's all right, now, my love. I've lived far longer and far more than any woman has the right to." She choked on a laugh and a sob. "Oh, Light." Wheezing, she closed her eyes until the wash of pain passed and faded, as she was. "Thank you."
Caden gritted his teeth in his anguish, not able to follow her. "For what?" he scraped weakly, "I couldn't save you. I failed you."
"For loving me," she whispered fervently. "Before... Before you go," she said, knowing the path ahead of them both, "tell Haeden how much I loved him, and take me home. I don't want to be buried here. I want..." Coughing. Bleeding. "I want to be in Saldaean soil."
Long moments passed, while the truth about their situation finally settled in Caden's mind.
The sound of dripping water was the only thing that marked time's passing.
"You shall be, love." The Steel of the Covenant whispered. "Thank you, for granting a Freak joy in his life. I... I love you, Miahala, with all of my cold heart."
The light was fading, as the Light was growing. She felt the singing. It was calling to her. She knew it was time. She even wanted to go. It was time. "Caden, I love you," she said. "I love..."
She was gone.
Fare Thee Well, Part II: Lysira, Going to Ground
Lysira's back curved into a perfect arc as her mouth made shapes of sounds without sound to attend to them. The only noise was the air being dragged into her lungs as she gasped and shuddered, settling down again into the sofa as Jhered chased away the last memories of darkness in dreams. The warder's coarse, long-fingered hands slid up her naked torso and pushed Lucan's ethereal hands away from her.
He crawled up her body, following the trail of his hands, and laid himself along her length on the narrow sofa of her fore room. It was night, and Little Caden was asleep in the bedroom, which had chased the new lovers elsewhere for their intimacy.
"You are so beautiful," Jhered whispered into her ear. He knew she couldn't reply in the dark, but somehow, she also knew he was very aware of what she might say if she could. It was enough and a sweet understanding as his fingers tangled in her hair and he kissed her neck. She pressed her face into his shoulder and tried not to weep.
They made love once more before dressing in silence and going to sleep in the bedroom. Her quarters were not big enough to afford the room or the privacy she would have liked, but her son was still too young to understand things and so he accepted Jhered's presence in their rooms, because he knew him from all others times too. Perhaps to the child's mind, it was a natural progression... perhaps to anyone's mind it was.
In the morning, they were awakened by a knock at the door.
Frowning at who would be calling on her at this hour, Lysira went to answer it. She was bare foot with breeches and a loose blouse, hair undone. Quite obviously she had been asleep, but was at least decent.
"Lysira Gaidar," the young ji'alantin greeted with a solemn bow. "Caden Gaidin has arranged for the Warders to be present in the Yards this morning. It is for a funeral procession for his wife, Miahala Sedai."
Lysira nearly felt her knees go out from under her and despite her stoic calm, they might well have dropped her onto the floor if not for Jhered's sudden appearance behind her. "We'll be there," he said for her, for word and thought failed her and he knew it. The news hit her with nearly as much weight as if she had been told that both her parents had died, because she knew Caden would not be far behind his wife.
It was a grey, misty morning. Dawn was just cresting the mountains as most of the Warder Yards, many members of the Green Ajah and a few assorted others who had heard the news all gathered to watch as Caden Ives carried his dead wife in his arms atop his steed, Winterborne, a horse that was as seemingly immortal as Caden was... as Miahala had once been.
Lysira choked back tears as she watched the two of them disappear through the gateway. She recognized Saldaea beyond it and was as pleased as one might be in such a situation. They were going home, and that seemed fitting.
Clutching her son to her chest, the image of the little one's namesake now gone, forever she knew, she felt Jhered's arms wrap around her with no heed for who might be watching. She let herself lean into his arms before turning to him and asking him with a glance to hold her son, who did not want to be put down. He felt the sadness of the occasion and wanted the comfort.
I can't do this any more, she signed suddenly. There was a calm panic in her eyes, which was so odd a combination that it was hard to read. Jhered seemed to understand. I think I might break under this place some day. My mother has spoken of her home in Cairhien. She thinks of returning there. If I go, will you go with me?
Jhered looked... surprised by her question, and even more surprised when the word 'yes' came out of his mouth.
Lysira smiled. It was bittersweet when she kissed him, but there was suddenly the weight of the world falling off her shoulders. We'll just go. Leave a note to the Yard, get my parents and my sister and live our lives, or what's left of them, before we all are crushed by this place. Tell no one where it is we go.
With her son in mind, Lysira's choices had made the distinct leap but she couldn't bear the thought of what might become of her and her son if they stayed. Miahala was dead and Caden with her, while her daughter and daughter's warder were to be buried as well. Already Lysira had seen the man she had once loved and bonded die, replaced by... a stranger. Lysira didn't want her child to suffer, either to die or to bury her tragically.
So, they went to ground. Her parents had done it in her youth for other reasons, but she felt hers were just as strong and allowed for a slightly better childhood for her son than she'd been able to have. But still, ultimately, Lysira 'Mouse' Viathene Walker Khalor returned to what she had known best in her life: living quietly, away from anyone's sight, except that of those who loved her and who she loved best.
Fare Thee Well, Part III: Gareth & Riahana, Phoenix Rising
News can travel surprisingly fast, even in a place as large as the Tower.
When the Warder Yards assembled for the hastily arranged, somewhat informal funeral procession, Gareth Tomasan was there. Despite not being a member of the Yards or the Green, who had been those notified of this dawn occasion, he had heard and felt it necessary that he attend. It was in part because he knew the Green, and respected her, but more importantly for Riahana.
He found her amongst the haphazard lines of the Yard ranks, and chose to broke whatever protocol there might be to reach her. When he did, his large form was somehow otherwise inconspicuous as he stood just behind her shoulder and rested a large hand there, to quietly let her know he was there.
Ria turned and looked to Gareth. Her normally calm, collected expression wavered as she looked back to the funeral procession for the Captain General Miahala Ives... Memma. Riahana's eyes were red rimmed and she had a knot at the back of her throat that wouldn't go away. Gareth's arrival warmed her, but even the presence of the man she loved couldn't ease the ache in her heart for the loss of her Memma. Her Great Grandmother had been a rock for Ria since the Warder's return to the yards, but now she was gone.
The one other constant in Ria's life in the yards, Caden Ives, her Great-Grandfather -in-law, rode atop his mount, Miahala's body in his arms, his eyes forward. Someone opened a Gateway and it was this to which Caden Ives was riding, his melted Fancloak waving slightly with the breeze that descended on the Yards.
When Riahana learned of the death of her Grandmother, she'd felt anger and frustration. Since learning of Miahala's death... a woman she was convinced would outlive her, Riahana felt raw and numb all at once. She wanted to do something, anything, but nothing would change the fact that her Great Grandmother was gone. Nothing could bring her, or Riahana's Great Aunt Sadira back. The Gaidar felt helpless, and she hated feeling helpless.
The sound of hoof beats pounded in Riahana's ears as she watched Caden and his wife's body move ever closer to the Gateway. Without thinking, without realizing, impulse drove Riahana to put one foot in front of the other. She wanted to follow him... wanted to be with him on this journey.
"Ria," Gareth rumbled her name quietly, but affectionately. "I think he needs to do this alone."
The Gaidar stopped and hung her head, fists clinched at her side. She knew Gareth was right, but it took all her will power not to continue following Caden. It would have been something to do... something to keep her from feeling quite so helpless. She watched as the Caden rode through the gate, continued watching as the Gateway closed, and stared at the point where Caden carried Miahala's broken body through. Her last glimpse of her Great Grandmother.
He waited with her until the crowd began to disperse and then he turned her to face him, but did nothing more lest she wished it. He knew how Warders could be about their 'public face' and he had no wish to press it, though he felt a strange pain in his chest, for her.
She was a Gaidar. A Warder for the Tower, a Battle Sister with strength to fight the Dark... so why did she feel so weak? So helpless? For the longest time, she didn't raise her eyes to meet Gareth's, but when she finally did, she felt something deep within crack. Tears she managed to hold at bay started flowing freely as she struggled to find words. "I..." She wanted to say she missed her Memma, and she did, but the words seemed inadequate. She closed her eyes, her shoulders sagged as she whispered hoarsely, "I hurt more than I thought possible."
With the crowds nearly all gone, Gareth felt it would be ...allowable to pull Ria against him. "After I lost my father," he murmured deeply into her hair, holding her tight, "I thought I'd never feel right again. After Iyella, I felt it again. It hurts to lose the ones you love. Let yourself feel that, because it's okay to."
Normally, her arms would have slid around Gareth, but Ria's hands were against his chest. Part of her wanted to pull away, hating how weak she felt... how helpless she felt. She didn't want to feel the pain that felt as if it threatened to consume her. The rational side of the Gaidar knew Gareth was right... that bottling in what she felt would do nothing to help her. She'd tried bottling up feelings once before and it drove her from the Tower... and almost meant she wouldn't gain the Fancloak. She fought back then... worked through those feelings then. What she felt now was ten-fold worse than what she'd felt when she learned of her Grandmother's death.
Riahana ignored that part of her that wanted to pull away and sunk into Gareth's arms, letting the tears that had started to spill flow freely. Her body shook as she sobbed, burying her head into Gareth's expansive chest. Eventually, the tears subsided and she took a deep, shuddering breath as she raised her bloodshot eyes to his. "Thank you." She looked around and wiped the remaining tears off her cheeks, glad that no one was about.
Leaning down, Gareth kissed her forehead in an affectionate way that no one else would have thought that he was even capable of, but he was. "It's what I'm here for," he said with a faint smile and warmth in his one visible eye. A large hand reached up and brushed a few errant tears from her cheek, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
Ria gave the Asha'man a weak smile as she reached up and took his hand in hers, kissing his palm. She looked over her shoulder to where the Gateway had been, the pain in her heart still aching and raw. Looking back to Gareth, still holding his hand, the Warder replied, "I always wanted to fight at her side... dreamed of it as a child, longed for it when I signed the books." Miahala was more than just her Great Grandmother, as was Caden. While Caden molded her on the Yards, Miahala was a rock, ever vigilant in the fight against Shadowspawn. The young Gaidar's dream would now never be realized, which only added to her sense of loss.
"She'll always be with you," he pointed out. "As long as you keep her with you." His heart ached for her, because although the details were different, he understood the loss and he wanted to take away that pain. He was a Healer. A man who took care of others as his calling, but what he could do for broken bones he couldn't do for broken hearts, and it killed him.
Knowing well what he meant, Ria nodded slowly. "I know, though it is not the same, is it?" Sliding her arms around around him, she took in another deep breath and let it out slowly as thoughts rolled through her mind. She raised her eyes to his. "Can we... can we return to your room? Standing out here any longer will not change a thing and I... I need a change of scenery."
He nodded. "Of course," he said. Gareth wasn't rightly sure he could say 'no' to her about anything she wished.
Departing the Warder Yards, it was not a long walk to the Halls of the Yellow. After all, the Warders often needed Healing so the Infirmary was not far. Thus, they arrived at his quarters after a short walk and passed very few people along the way.
Behind closed doors, Riahana turned to face Gareth, letting walls she might otherwise have fully up drop away, her shoulders sagging. She felt and looked absolutely drained and for good reason, though not good reason to her. She spoke softly and shook her head. "I am a Gaidar of the Grey Tower, but I feel weak as a new born babe."
"Contrary to popular belief," Gareth said, "Warders are still human." Gently, he guided her to sit on the couch. His rooms were small, typical of an unbonded channeler, but that still meant a bed room and second room as extra living space, even if he made it seem a bit like a child's play house.
Slipping her hand in his, feeling a need for contact, Riahana furrowed her brows. "I suppose we are, despite our beliefs that we are much more than mere mortals." She gave a small, weak smile as she looked to him again with red-rimmed eyes. Tears welled up again, but the Warder didn't try and fight them. She buried her face in her hands, her body shaking as she quietly sobbed. Chaotic thoughts ran through her mind, older memories came to the surface, fueling her sobs.
Again, Gareth held her in silence and sympathy. It would be a while before she felt the tears were really done, and all he could do was be here.
When the sobs and tears ebbed, the Gaidar wiped her eyes and looked over to Gareth. "This life we lead... here at the Tower, is not an easy one, is it?"
"No, it's not," he agreed. He gently stroked the back of her neck, large fingers slipping through her hair. "After I lost Iyella, I nearly didn't come back. Now, I'm glad I did, if perhaps only for one reason." His small smile showed what that 'one reason' was.
Returning his small smile, Riahana reached over and placed her hand on his cheek before leaning forward and kissing him briefly. "Needless to say, I am very glad you did," she replied. "I am not sure I would want to endure this on my own. Not sure I could." She lowered her eyes.
Gareth smiled slightly. "I have no doubt in your strength, Ria," he said firmly. "You could have, but I am glad that you don't have to."
Riahana looked back to Gareth and ran her thumb along his cheek as she let her smile grow a bit, "I appreciate your faith in me." She pulled her hand back and ran it through her hair before letting go a sigh. Her mind had been churning through chaotic thought after chaotic thought. "I need a break from here," she admitted in a voice just barely above a whisper.
"Where would you want to go?" he asked, holding her close.
Letting herself sink into his arms, the Gaidar took in and let go a long, slow breath. The answer came to her as soon as he asked. "I want to go home," she replied softly. She slid her arms around him and met his gaze. "I want to return to Saldaea... and... I want you to come with me."
Her response didn't surprise him, really. "It's my home too," he reminded her. True, he didn't know if he was Saldaean, but it was where he was raised. The idea appealed to him, too. He had been glad, at first, to return to the Tower but now... Things had changed. "I would be glad to go with you," he rumbled.
Knowing how dedicated Gareth was to his work and to the infirmary, Riahana wasn't expecting him to say yes... but he did. For a moment, the hurt she felt subsided and she looked at him with wide, hopeful eyes. "You would? Truly?" She tilted her head and swallowed hard. "I... Gareth, I do not know when I might return. Are you certain?"
"I do not speak if I am not certain," Gareth replied. "Remember, the Oaths prevent me from lying. So yes, I'm certain. I want to go with you. I want to stay with you."
Hearing him say yes, that he was more than certain, Ria gave him a warm, though sad smile. "I... I cannot tell you how much it means to me." She bit her lower lip for a moment. "I love you, Gareth." Without hesitation she kissed him. It was meant to be a brief kiss, but she needed more, and it quickly turned to something much more passionate than she'd intended.
Gareth didn't hesitate to be drawn into the embrace and the kiss and the passion. If he were being a Yellow, he would have said that it was a natural emotional reaction to death... but he was being Gareth, a man, and he wasn't thinking about that. He was just thinking about her, and about going to Saldaea with her, and staying with her... Before he realized it, the sweet cataclysm of saidin was taking place within alongside the rush of his feelings for her. Spirit was drawn and the bond was formed before he knew it.
When it had settled, he pulled away from her and gasped; shocked at the feeling, shocked at his loss of control.
Riahana was about to ask what caused such a response from him, but then it hit her and she felt disoriented for several intense moments. She felt him... she felt Gareth in her mind, knew what he felt. She couldn't help the shocked look she gave him and whispered, "Gareth... what... how?" She realized it might come across she wasn't happy with the turn of events, which wasn't the case... at least she didn't think so. She slipped her hands into his and squeezed, giving him a weak smile as she attempted a bit of humor. In a whisper, she said, "If you wanted to bond me, you just had to ask, Gareth Asha'man."
He remained shocked, at himself, for several silent moments and then he laughed softly; a chuckle deep in the center of his chest. "I... I am sorry, Ria. I didn't intent that." A pause. "Not that I regret it, but I should have asked. I just... you have a strange affect on me, Gaidar."
Letting her sad smile linger, Riahana placed a hand on his cheek. "And you I, Gareth." She leaned forward and kissed him lightly before settling back. "Do not apologize, though, as I regret nothing. The bond means... I'm not exactly sure I can explain what it means to me, to be honest. I think... I think it might take some time for me to get used to this."
"These things do," he agreed. "It does have its benefits, though." And he kissed her again, so that she might know all that he felt for her, and about the life they were about to embark upon together, in ways she couldn't possibly know before.
Fare Thee Well, Part IV: Nykkolaia, The Mystery
The disappearance of Nykkolaia Zeran was a mystery that would have to be left to the weaving of the Wheel.
Normally, the comings and goings of Aes Sedai were not subject to the overview of anyone. This time was no different, except that business was left undone and people came looking for her to find out what had happened. She was no where to be found.
No signs of foul play were found, but nothing was found to suggest she had left with any intention of staying gone. Her things, for the most part, remained in her rooms and there were no letters left behind to explain anything.
Ultimately, the only clue was a letter from an anonymous source. It outlined a story of a young woman in a small village elsewhere in Andor who had been kidnapped, tortured for a year before escaping. At the end, scribbled in Nykkolaia's hand, were the words: he lives.
No one in the Tower knew her well enough to understand what it meant, but ultimately, it meant that she was never coming back.
Fare Thee Well, Part V: Seira, The Homecoming
"Ji'dar," the young Gaidin said from the doorway to her room. He was newly Raised, and Seira had known him through the ranks. He looked like he wanted to lord his new fancloak over everyone and everything, but his exuberance marred any chance he had at arrogance. "There is a group of people asking for you at the front gates. They refuse to come in, but really are quite insistent that they see you. The guard has determined they pose no threat to anyone or anything other than his sanity."
"There's a group of people wanting to see me?" she echoed as she turned in her seat, where she'd been sitting at her desk and working on a battle tactics and history essay for one of her classes, but now was looking to another mystery all together. Who in the name of the Light would come looking for her? "I guess I better get down there before the guard breaks his head."
Getting up out of her seat, she pulled on her boots and grabbed a cloak - it was cold out - and followed him out to the front gates in confused and curious silence.
Seira almost collapsed on the spot when she saw who the people were just beyond the broad, open gates of the Tower. The 'group' spoken of was far larger than had been reported, but only a small number of them had actually approached the guard. The colors they wore were bright and loud and achingly familiar, standing in such wretched contrast to the plain grey that Seira now wore.
"Momma?" Seira asked, not even daring to believe. There standing with her were Seira's brother and sister, now a strapping seventeen year old lad and a lovely girl who would be fifteen; the same age that Seira was when she had to leave her family, her Caravan and her Way far behind and find a new life. They stood huddled together, almost afraid that if they came too close to the Tower walls that it might jump out and yank them in, never to spit them back out. They couldn't hear her from here, so she rushed forward but stopped just short.
Oh, how she wanted to hug them all. She thought that she would never see them again, and yet here they stood! There was, of course, one obvious loved one missing, but he was long gone and Seira would just have to wait to see him again. "What are you doing here?" she asked, wide-eyed and bewildered.
It was her mother, Lycelle, that stepped forward. She looked... terrified, but resolute. "We learned that this is where you'd ended up," she said. Seira wondered how in the world they would have learned that, but she wasn't going to question it. "We all wanted to know how you were doing. We've missed you so much." Surging forward with a wealth of motherly desperation, her daughter didn't wait to step forward and enter the embrace. All of her training went out the window and she was crying.
"I've missed you, too, Momma," she cried. Tumbling on the heels of that confession came the story of what happened to her at the Tower: her depression, and burning out; her belief that she could never come home and so took to signing the Warder Yard books. This was all said while hugging her mother.
"So, you cannot use the Power any more?" Lycelle asked her daughter gently, brushing stray strands of hair back off Seira's face. Seira shook her head. "Then come home with us," Lycelle whispered.
Seira's eyes widened again. "I've used weapons, and I've learned how to hurt people, how to kill people. I have betrayed the Way," she said, forcing the words around the longing that had opened painfully in the center of her chest. This must be a dream, because she had dreamed of this happening since the first night in the Tower. In fact, it had been the one dream that was more painful than remembering the death of her father.
Taking her daughter's face in her hands, as they now stood eye to eye, Lycelle whispered fervently, "It doesn't matter. You can control what tools you use and what you do, better than when the Power had blossomed within you. You can choose to put down those weapons and pick up the Way again. We need you. We want you with us. It was almost too hard to live to lose my husband and my oldest child at the same time, but I can get you back."
"I... I've made some friends here," Seira began, but she realized even as the words were coming out of her mouth that she wasn't using them to make an excuse. No, her people were here in front of her and were welcoming her home. She had accepted her life at the Tower because she had nowhere else to go, but it would never compare to this. Images of traveling and campfires and dancing and laughing and loving and color and children all rushed through her mind. The images of the life she thought she'd never have but had always wanted came to her. "I need to write letters to tell them where I've gone."
She briefly glanced around and saw that they were far enough away that no one had heard her.
"I will come meet you later tonight," she whispered, laying her hands over her mother's. "Camp near by."
By the time night had come, Seira had written three letters.
One was to Jasrin and she apologized for not being able to answer all of his questions better and that she hoped he found his way. She told him that her family had come and welcomed her home, so she knew that redemption was possible in ways she never before thought. If she could return to her Way, so he could find his as well.
The second was to Jacovian and this was the hardest. There was a sweet affection in her that would be hard to leave behind, because she had grown very fond of him... but young love could not compare to being where she belonged. She said she would write to him again, and hoped that they would meet more in their lives - when he was an Asha'man and could come find her. She also wrote veiled references to things she wished she could have stayed for, things with him, but that this couldn't wait.
Finally, she wrote to the Gaidin Captain. This one was the most simple. It simply said that Ji'dar Seira was going home, and wouldn't be coming back.
A young Drin'far'ji was sent to deliver all the letters and once she was out of sight, Seira slipped out of the room. She was dressed in the one outfit she had that wasn't Ji'dar greys. Those were left, folded neatly on her bed. No, inside her cloak was a dress of vivid blue that she had bought in Hama Valon after earning the Ji'dar rank, with what little money she had. She would not wear grey when she met her family.
As she snuck from the Tower walls and found their camp, she looked back at the Tower battlements and thought of the second night that had irrevocably changed her life as she embarked on this third.
The Caravan was gone at dawn, taking the once-Ji'dar Seira with them.