|Affiliation||The Grey Tower|
Very few remember what he looked like as a younger man. Most are dead or dying, some by his own hand. But when the smoke cleared at Walker Manor, none could find anything resembling him. Silver hair — true silver, not light blonde or gray with age — like a billion threads of the rare metal, azure eyes sharper than a steel sword or clearer than the bluest sky on a calm ocean. A man who was lean yet fit for battle, with the discipline of someone who commanded troops. That man was a clean-shaven, short-haired man with a handsome appearance that grew even more regal as he aged, with a wit as sharp as the sword he wielded.
To see him at Walker Manor, he looked as if he could either rule as High Seat or lead its armsmen. He did both, at different times.
But the man I saw today, in my inn .... was different. He was as young as the day I remember him first coming into this place when I was a young lass of twelve winters. Straight, tall, tight as a coil and as relaxed as a fat cat.
Only ... he was dressed in Aiel-like clothing, rustic clothing modified to blend in with the greener climate. That black veil hung around his shoulders like an old friend. A silver beard, slightly scraggly, covered his lower jaw. His silver hair was longer, done up in a few braids.
His face was a little more gaunt, but not by much, and much more sun-touched. Other than the odd clothing, those eyes still were sharp but burdened by a loss. A sword was strapped to his back, a slender long sword he apparently knew how to handle with lethal grace.
The young lass he was with? Yes, she was a young beauty, maybe 17 or 18, red-haired and slightly freckled, dressed in hunter greens and a divided skirt. She was stoic, unemotional, but you could tell she was nervous by the tension in her bones and her scattered looks around the room.
Yeah, on the path to Hama Valon. Now buy a drink and pay me my silver. And avoid Camden Corelle. I’m sure they did, and Creator knows the few Aes Sedai and Asha’man “retired there” might notice something, or their Warders will.
Sojin drew in a deep breath as he rode through Hama Valon. It had been a long ride to a home he had not stepped foot inside of in some ten years.
Of course, he could say the same for Tar Valon, but that had been a longer span. The two cities had often competed with his heart, but he had felt more at peace in the Grey Tower than anywhere else except among his own men.
Or at least that had been the case until recently.
Sapphire eyes scanning the city streets, Sojin realized not much had changed. This place seemed removed from the rest of the world and yet so much a part of it. He noticed the small changes, the effects of diminished crops that had been plaguing the rest of the area. But at the same time there seemed to be a shrugging and minor grudging acceptance.
Only, Light forbade, how much longer before he became more pronounced.
Sojin shrugged it as he maneuvered his grey stallion through the traffic. He was as much as part of the crowd as any other.
Well, almost. He wore a vest and sleeves of chain mail and leather greaves over good green woolen clothes, and a fine brown cloak. A sabre adorned his belt and a longsword strapped across his back, while an ancient ashandarei lay across the front of his saddle, its engraved blade glinting in the sun. He was very much a solider.
Sojin didn't notice the brief stares but merely guided his horse through the streets toward the Grey Tower. It lay ahead, towering above the rest of the city.
He smiled wistfully. It was a place of memories, ones long gone. And one he had been reluctant to return to. He had left one Aes Sedai as her Warder on mutual terms, or so he'd like to think. Deeper reasons had driven him from the place, to seek a return to simpler aspects of a soldier's life.
Instead he had found himself commanding a cavalry unit in the Band, a command he accepted with some reservations. And for the last decade it had seen no defeats under his command.
Yet the Tower had called him home. At first he ignored it, but as time went forward, the call wore him down. His calling was as a Warder, not a soldier. Even if he never held a bond again, it was the threat the Pattern had woven for him.
Underneath it all, he felt an obligation to head home as well. The last year he had heard whispers that some dark things were brewing at his father's House. Granted, Jerid Walker was dead and he was a bastard who could not claim a place at Walker Manor in the Caralain, he still felt a duty to his father's memory and his legacy. House Walker had been a honorable family at one time and Sojin hoped the rumors proved false.
Regardless, he did not plan to leave again. He was a Gaidin. It was his duty to serve the Tower and the Light in the best form he could. Leading men into battle for a decade had been the best way once, but now was a time to return to his place inside the Warder Yards.
Squaring his shoulders as he rode nearer to the Tower, Sojin could scant wait to see what his return home would entail.