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Sleepwalking To Shara

The little room that served as her Novice Quarters was dark, yet not quite silent for the middle of the night. Accepted Melanna had been sleeping in Soutrik's room for a few weeks now and Soutrik had gotten use to the fact that Melanna snored, and loudly. Hesper had commented just a few days earlier that she could hear Melanna snore through the wall. Most of the time Soutrik was so tired after a day of chores, study and lessons followed by constant grilling about her past before sleep by the Accepted, that when her head hit the pillow she was out before you could count to three. Still, the Accpeted's deep grizzly bear snore echoed in the room and out into the hall so that all could enjoy its astounding resonance. Accepted Aislin had told Soutrik to find some wool and stuff it in her ears and that might help. Aislin had a room near Melanna when they were Novices together. 'Yes, I remember Melanna. The worst two years of non-sleep I ever had in my life. Thank the Light she was raised Accepted before me!' Aislin had told Soutrik over tea at breakfast one morning after Soutrik had gotten no sleep. Aislin had noted the bags under Soutrik's tiny slanted eyes and had inquired about how she was sleeping.

Soutrik wondered if Madeline Sedai had purposely chosen an Accepted who snored so that she couldn't get into a deep enough sleep to be bothered by sleepwalking. Madeline Sedai was one intelligent woman and Soutrik found her solutions to problems quite unique for a shorebound woman. All and all, there hadn't been a sleepwalking episode since Melanna began to sleep in Soutrik's room, until….

Soutrik sat straight up in her bed, eyes wide open to the darkness of the night. She looked across the room at the sleeping Accepted and smiled Poor Mattille. I must work that slave very hard for her to make sounds such as that!Soutrik sleep wrapped body rose silently from the bed and glided regally across the cold floor of her room and out her door into the hallway. She left the door wide open behind her and stepped out with nothing on but her thin almost transparent silk shift, a gift from Jantica before leaving the Rusty Nail. The shift was too big for her, as most clothing not tailored specifically for her was. The shift hung limply on her tiny frame and the left shoulder strap dangled off her shoulder. Soutrik/ Alyosha Delphic, the Sh'boan, did not care, she wore what she pleased when she pleased! She walked the hall of the Novice quarters humming an atonal song full of odd dissonances yet quote beautiful, lightly under her breath, just out for a nightly stroll to escape the snores of her slave, Mattille.

Also out for a nightly stroll, but with many other reasons in mind, Sven GoldSwan lurked in the shadows of the columns in the exterior corridors of the Novice's wing. His little over six-foot tall frame cast shadows in the moonlight. He seemed a bit distracted in his own thoughts. He rested his hand upon his now considerable gut, which he had developed after ceasing to care about his appearance. His black hair and goatee seemed dull and unkempt as if he too had gone to bed for the night without a bath and now couldn't sleep and was wondering the Tower. Sun tanned skin contrasted against the White Accepted tunic he now wore. He squinted looking off into the distance through the dark shadows with his bright green eyes that were actually quite pleasant looking for a man with such a sour attitude most of the time. A soft humming noise drew his attention and he slid behind the column in the middle of the corridor with stealth and grace acquired in years of assassin training.

Soutrik/Alyosha Delphic turned the corner from the interior corridor to the exterior corridor of the Novice's wing humming softly and gliding ever so regally down the hallway, unaware that she was being watched. Her Sea Folk swish walk was gone and was replaced by the elegant stride of an Empress surveying her palace. She smiled at nothing; she just smiled. She seemed so at peace with herself and so confident and strong; a woman who beamed and radiated confidence and power. Sven observed the Novice in her practically transparent silk shift glide past his hiding place. Ever the sourpuss, he stepped out from behind the column after she passed and called her name.

"Novice Soutrik, what do you think you are doing out in the middle of the night wandering about in this cold dressed like that!?" Sven was an Accepted for less than a week and he had already become accustomed to the higher rank and power it brought with it.

Soutrik/ Alyosha Delphic spun around and her serene look changed to that of pure hate and disdain. "Jackobar! How dare you?!"

Sven looked puzzled for a moment, "And who is this Jackobar then?"

"Oh, here we go playing that same game again! You may be my husband, but I will never be your mate." Alyosha Delphic's mouth twisted with the hated word. "You know I did not choose you but was forced to marry you after Teresa killed my beloved. The Will of the Wheel she called it. But why?" Alyosha Delphic caught her sorrow and put it in check, "You should not be here. If they even suspect that you have touched me, you will be dead."

Sven realized that Soutrik was sleepwalking and he played along with her to see where it would lead, "And why should they care if I touched you?" Sven reached out and moved the dangling shoulder strap back into place softly caressing her skin with his finger. Alyosha Delphic shuttered at the touch and stepped back from him.

"Women who can channel are required to mate with the sons of women who can channel! You are not of those bloodlines, you have no tattoos. No one with the markings is allowed to mate anyone without and any child of such a union will be killed." Alyosha Delphic stomped her foot in anger, "You know that I was not tattooed at birth. My ability is an oddity at best, yet I am Ayyd and the Sh'baon! Oh, how I know you have wanted me, but death to you it is!" Her voice was a hushed whisper of anger and command. "I know you can't wait for the Will of the Wheel to take me so that you can choose your dark-skinned beauty,Chiape. Then you will be crowned Sh'botay. Be fair warned, she is awful Jackobar, and will have a daggar in you ribs before a fortnight. She loves Shaofan and will make him Sh'botay without baring you a child! This I Foretell!"

Foretell how interesting. "Sweetness, you act as if you hate my very being." Sven was getting a kick watching Soutrik's face so angry and filled with hate and passion.

"You may be beautiful Jackobar, but I know you just toy with me. I know you find me repulsive. I have whipped the truth from Chesandra and L'iheap those wretched harlot slaves of mine. I know they share your bed!" She stepped forward and poked him with her finger. Sven grabbed her bracelet-laden wrist firmly and pulled her close to him grabbing her shoulder with his other hand.

"Even when I die and these bracelets can be removed, Chiape will never wear them! I will curse these bracelets with my dying breath, Jackobar! She has no ability with the Power. You will be Teresa's puppets as all Sh'botay and Sh'boan have been the puppets of the Ayyad before me, except me!"

Sven quirked his brow, "To a point!"

That last comment did it and Alyosha Delphic, stomped hard on Sven's foot. He let go of her bracelet-laden wrist but not of her shoulder, and as she turned to run from him, her shift tore off and hung limply in Sven's hand. A stark naked Alyosha Delphic ran down the exterior corridor and past a sleepy yet determined Accepted Melanna who was looking for Soutrik and chastising herself for letting her charge out of her sight. Sven was in hot pursuit, he had to stop the girl before she hurt herself, she was sleepwalking after all. Alyosha Delphic channeled before Melanna could, and using the strength of her tiger's eye ivory sa'angreal, a Gateway spun open to a long carpeted corridor pitched in blackness. Alyosha Delphic ran through the Gateway and all Accepted Melanna could do was hold it open as it started to close. Melanna yelled to Sven, "Go after her!". Sven did not blink and ran through the Gateway full speed, still gripping the silk shift, into the unknown.

He didn't need Malanna's order to follow Soutrik, and almost turned his head to sneer at her. Through the hole in the pattern, he saw a room, bathed in darkness. Rolling as he hit the ground, he pulled a dagger from his boot and looked around, not seeing anyone, not even Soutrik.

"Where did that child go..." he muttered, and squinted into the darkness. Footsteps on the soft carpet caught his ear, and he cursed lightly. Just as he moved forward, he saw Soutrik and ran after her. Voices now came from the direction of the footsteps, and he sighed at the GateWay. "That can't be normal," he muttered. Stealthily, he ran to her and grabbed hold of her, putting a hand over her mouth before she could scream and hefted her, running down a small hall and hiding within a doorway.

Fidgeting, Soutrik tried to escape his grip, and Sven tried to ignore the feel of her in his grasp. Grumbling, he whispered to her to be quiet. Finally, she did, though she still squirmed occasionally. Siezing saidin, he let the enhanced senses tell him that the footsteps were still coming, and the voices were louder, in search, it seemed. Cursing, he told her to continue being quiet, or they would be caught.

"Trust me," he said quietly, and slowly removed his hand. Thankfully she was quiet. Moving around her, he watched as two people rounded the corner, each with a candle and searching the corridor. Whatever language they were speaking, Sven didn't understand it. Sighing, he held the dagger ready, and readied weaves of Air.

When the two were near the doorway, he leaped out, sending the dagger flying into the shoulder of one man, filling his mouth with Air before he could scream, and wrapping the other in Air, gagging him as well. Tying off the weaves, he took Soutrik's hand and returned from where they had come.

At the corner, he stopped and pressed himself against the wall, still holding on tightly to Soutrik's hand.

"You're hurting me," she said and tried to pull away. Letting go of her hand, he gripped her wrist, and Soutrik grumbled. At the GateWay, three women stood around it, speaking in that odd language. Out of daggers, Sven drew deep on saidin and began to move around the corner, but Soutrik pulled him back.

"Are you crazy, Jackobar?" She said lowly. "Those are Ayyad." Svenson grumbled, and looked at her.

"What in the bloody Light are Ayyad?" He growled at her, and she looked at him as if he were crazy. "Just tell me," he grumbled when she began to speak, with that wise guy look on her face.

"What do you mean 'what is an Ayyad?' I'm a bloody Ayyad, Jackobar, they are Ayyad. They would take you down easily." Sven furrowed his brow, before it came to him.

"They can channel?" He said, and she nodded. Sighing, he doubted he could take down three women who could channel. Looking at her, he moved her down the hall again. The man he had impaled in the shoulder was busy trying to pull the dagger out; Sven approached him and did it for him, and he tried to scream against the gag. When Sven put the blade against his throat, Soutrik grabbed his arm.

"What are you doing?" She asked incredulously.

"What do you think?" He growled, and drug the dagger across the man's throat. Soutrik looked at him in shock, and he tried to ignore her. Approaching the other, he cut the weaves binding him, save the gag. "If you want to live, give me your clothes." The man quickly doffed his garments, and handed them to Sven with a shaky hand. Another weave of solid Air struck him in the head and knocked him cold. "Put these on," he told Soutrik and handed her the clothes, not looking at her. With the sudden calm, Sven felt his face blush and he fought to stop it.

When Soutrik tapped his shoulder, he jumped lightly and glared a little. Taking her wrist again, he led her down the hall in the opposite direction of the Gateway. All the doors they passed were locked, and occasionally the sounds of poeple at intervening halls would cause them to duck into another doorway.

"Here," Soutrik said, opening the door whose frame they were crouching in. Moving in, Sven closed the door behind them, and shuddered at where they were. It looked like a giant torture room, with implements of pain hanging from the wall. "Mattile," Soutrik almost shouted, and Sven leaped drawing on the source. On the table lay a woman, bound and weeping silently.

"What a night," Sven muttered and watched the door.

“Mattille!” Aloysha practically screamed as she saw her one true friend, her slave girl Mattille. The woman was bound and gagged lying on a table in the Room of Atonement. She looked like a bag of bruised skin and bones. It was obvious that her nose had been broken. Her fingernails had been ripped out and she was missing all of her toes. Her feet were stumps really. One of her eyes and one of her ears had been removed. She had whip marks up and down her naked emaciated body. Aloysha began to weep and rushed to her removing the gag. Sven stood near the door looking astonished that someone could live through all of that deliberate mangling.

“Mistress.” Mattille’s voice was thin and practically transparent. Yet, she sounded surprised and relieved all at the same time, “You have come back for me.”

“Who has done this to you? I will hang them in the middle of Tr’amklin Square by their thumbs and whip them until they beg to be drawn and quartered!” Aloysha was so furious she shook as she undid the bindings that held her friend. “Who? Tell me and I swear I shall avenge you!”

Mattille looked stunned through her one good eye as Aloysha helped her to sit up on the table. She finally had a good look at her Mistress. Aloysha was wearing men’s clothing, but it was not that which caused the slave to stare. “What have you put in your nose, Mistress?” Mattille blinked her one eye again as if to free it from the delusions it must be seeing.

“My nose?” Aloysha reached up, touched her nose, and practically screamed again, “Great Light, what the bloody hell is this?!” She ran over to the mirror that was used to show the person who was ‘atoning’ there mangled selves and eyed the gold Sea Folk nose chain the hung from her nose to her ear. “Fascinating.”

“Thank you for coming back to free me, Mistress Aloysha. I thought I would never see you again. Teresa said you were dead, that it was the Will of the Wheel.” Mattille extended her arm towards her Mistress and almost tumbled off the table. Sven hurriedly grabbed the practically dead woman and eyed Soutrik/Aloysha. Sven snorted and snapped, “Soutrik, we have no time to waste here. Either grab this woman and help me, or we leave her and go back now.”

“Why is he calling you, Soutrik? Infidel, do you know to whom you speak? This is Aloysha Delphic, Sh’boan of all Shara! Grovel before her feet and beg her not to make you atone for your sins!” Mattille pushed herself away from Sven with what little strength she had left, “Please, great Mistress, how did you come back?”

“What are you all talking about? Oh, Jackobar is calling me by some new pet name I suppose.” Aloysha was confused. “Mattille, where have I been? I have not left here And why do you talk to Jackobar that way?” Aloysha wanted an explanation and crossed her arms tapping her toe, “I have no time for this. Mattille, who has done this to you, woman, I will have them flayed!?”

“Teresa has done this to me, Mistress. After I helped you escape, Teresa, Eldobuste, and Ap’ciatner seized me. They have been torturing me slowing for over a year now trying to get me to tell them where were and what became of the ter’angreals, angreals, and sa’angreals you wore. I did not tell them anything, Mistress. I swear it.”

“Mattille, you must be delusional.” Aloysha was still weeping slightly, “Poor, dear Mattille, let me Heal you.” Aloysha embraced saidar deeply and channeled the Flows for Healing through her yellow stoned ivory ter’angreal that aided in tissue reconstruction and bone mending. She pulled deeply on the tiger’s eye sa’angreal as she grasped Mattille’s head. The woman shook and gasped slightly as Aloysha Delphic, her Mistress, Healed her from all the pains Teresa had inflicted, those she could anyways.

“Light woman!” Sven could feel Soutrik channel, “What are you doing? You are going to attract those Ayyad women’s attention. They have to feel you use that much of the One Power. Stop this, Novice!” Sven jumped when he heard footsteps racing towards their hiding place with his enhanced senses. He still held saidin as tightly as ever. He turned back to see what was happening.

Aloysha was had almost finished with what she could and turning an eye to Sven said, “Be patient, Jackobar.” She finished and let go of Mattille’s head.

“Mistress, this man is not, Jackobar. Jackobar is dead. Chiape and Shaofan are now Sh’boan, and Sh’botay.” Mattille had regained some of her strength but still looked like death walking.

“What!” Aloysha whirled and looked back and forth between them. She was stunned and confused.

“Soutrik, this is Sven, Accepted Sven GoldenSwan!” Sven looked at Soutrik’s crinkled forehead and watched an indescribable look of horror wash over her face.

“Accepted Sven? Accepted? What? Jackobar?” Aloysha seemed as if she was going to faint.

Sven grabbed her with a Flow of Air and settled her down. He barred the door with another Flow of Air and some Spirit too. A nice strong ward to keep out the Ayyad who had finally found the room and had just started banging on the door. One of the women behind the door screamed as she was singed by the ward. Sven snorted, “Bloody Ayyad!”

“You…you…channeled…” Aloysha was speechless.

“Don’t you start freaking out on me, Soutrik, Aloysha, whatever your bloody name is!” Sven rose to his full height and straighten his disheveled Tunic. “I am here to get you back to the Tower. I am on your side remember? Now, let’s get out of here. These flaming Ayyad are trying to break down the bloody door.”

Just then, three Ayyad burst through the ward. They were linked and their combined power sent splinters of wood flying as the door exploded inwards. “Slave! You shall not escape!” Ayyad Teresa stepped forward and threw a bar of blue light at Mattille who screamed as she was seared out of existence.

Soutrik/Aloysha practically jumped into Sven’s arms and screamed “Link with me!” She embraced as did he, and Sven immediately felt more Power than he ever knew possible. Soutrik’s sa’angreals were amazing and he drew deeply and flung a shield up so strong that the weaker females, even while linked, were thrown back against the wall and were completely cut off from the Source. He snorted and said, “Hum. Shall I see how much pain I can inflict by severing them from saidar, Aloysha." The three Ayyad shirked in fear and Teresa wet herself as Sven stood watching deeply enjoying their fright.

Aloysha released her death grip from around Sven’s huge barrel like chest and let go a breath of relief. “Thank you, Jackobar, I mean…Sven?” She still was not sure of what to call this stranger that she realized she had been hugging tightly. She turned her attention to Teresa and the two Ayyad with her. They were pinned to the wall by Sven’s shield and trembled greatly. Aloysha knew they could see the link around Sven and that they must know he could channel and that he was controlling the weaves. She pushed the large sleeves up to her elbows and revealed the bracelets.

“Aloysha!” The three women screamed in unison. Sven gagged them with Air. “No, no. Don’t do that, darling one, I want to hear them scream as we torture them!” Aloysha would get revenge for Mattille, for Jackobar, for her beloved, for herself. Revenge!

The hate filled her. Death by torture was all she could think about. Seething hate at the sight of her old nemesis, her fellow Ayyad. Vile creatures. Aloysha could feel satisfaction from Sven flowing through the link. “Yes, darling one, I will enjoy this, too.”

Through the link, Sven felt Soutrik's anger, and hatred, directed at these women, and he couldn't help but be affected by it. With a cold face, he channeled such great threads of Fire he almost couldn't believe they were real.

Through the link Aloysha felt satisfaction as Sven wove Fire and toasted the Ayyad she hated so much. Sisters! Bah! Her anger and hated was grand and she revealed in it. Revenge is sweet! Aloysha gripped Sven’s strong hand and felt the Power with them both throb as one, charring the Ayyad slowly enough so that Aloysha had time to scream at them in the Ayyad’s High Language …“Oh mio Dio, Si! Pavetan il tristo effetto d’un disperato affetto! Chi schernisce il mio duol, chi mi consola?! Deh fuggi, per pieta! Larva umana! Lei è, Teresa, senza cervello! Odioso zuccone! No, sono no il tuo schiavo! Non, Mi non dispiace davvero! Questo mi ha dato mille tonnellate di gioia! Fuggi, Sven! Fuggi, Sven! Grazie, Sven, Bravo Sven! Per piacere, Sven, mi tagli quella testa! Che peccato, Teresa, NOT! Speriamo che all’inferno le insegneranno a guidare! ” OOC: This is translated below. “Oh, my God, yes!” Aloysha screamed, “For in my state of frenzy I might do something desperate! Who would mock MY despair? Who DARES console ME?” Aloysha trembled with rage and fury, “ Away from me at once! You human larva!” The Ayyd’s horrified faces were licked by the flames. Aloysha raised her free hand and pointed to Ayyd Teresa with a smug glare, “She, Teresa, is brainless! Hateful fool! NO, I will NOT be YOUR SLAVE! No, I am NOT truly sorry! This gives me TONS of JOY!” Aloysha was greatly satisfied as Sven continued to torture the Ayyad with Fire all over their bodies, “Hurry, Sven! Hurry, Sven! Thank you, Sven! Wonderful, Sven!” Amazing feelings of justice and satisfaction rolled over Aloysha. Justice for herself, Mattille, Jackobar, and her beloved. They will pay for the seven years of hell they put me through! For torturing ME, and scaring me thus. For Mattille my one true friend they have taken from me! Never again, NEVER! “Please my sweet, Sven, cut the head off!” Aloysha seethed, and remarked sarcastically as Teresa was finally and fatally engulf by the Fire, “Oh, what a pity, Teresa, NOT! Maybe they will teach you to channel in HELL!” Not only Soutrik, but Svenson reveled in the screams of the women as they burned. The flickering light reflected back from Sven's eyes, and absently he took Soutrik's hand in his as they watched. Satisfaction was all he felt from the novice.

When finally he let the weaves go, and douses the flames with Water, three charred bodies were stuck to the wall, ash falling from their clothes, fire black faces contorted in pain. Sighing, he let go of Soutrik's hand and looked at her; she still glared at the dead women. Aloysha was satisfied that she was allowed to she her greatest enemies killed before her eyes. She only wished that she had controlled the flows and could have tortured them and they had her and Mattille, but they did not have the time. Sven let go of her hand, and somewhere inside herself she felt sad at the loss of his touch. Sven told her to come and left the room. She stood for a moment and looked at what her hatred had wrought. She smiled and spit on their ashes. Then, she left the room and found Sven waiting for her. They were still linked but she did not care. She felt the strong will and hunter prowess flowing through the link from Sven. It made her tingle with a bloodlust and she liked it. She was not paying attention to what was around them, she was simply basking at the marvel of this stranger man’s strength. A man who can channel has saved me from the Ayyad! Who would have believed it?! Certainly not me. How many men that were even thought to may be able to channel have I executed with my own hands? Astounding! He is so virile!

"Come on," he said lowly and left the room. Soutrik came out after a moment, and he slowly made his way down the hall. He noticed they were still linked, but didn't mention it as they walked back to where the GateWay was.

Boots scuffling on the ground caught his attention, and he turned just as the man he had struck with Air charged at them, shouting in that horribly quick language. A dagger flashed in his hand, and he raced at Soutrik, slicing across her stomach. Shouting, She stumbled back against the wall, and Sven growled.

Aloysha heard the sound of boots behind them and spun around a hearing Sven growling and feeling anger and hate swell through the link. One of the Ayyad’s bodyguards charged them and slashed her across the stomach. Soutrik reached out and thudded against the wall. "Bastard," he shouted, catching the man's attention. Sven moved in past stabbing distance, striking him across the face once, and in the stomach. The pain along the link fueled him more, and before he knew what he was doing, he grabbed the man's throat, digging his fingers deep into the flesh.

Bloody, bastard! Oh, Light, Sven, help me! “Sven.” She felt her knees buckle as she slid helplessly to the floor. Cursing the bodyguard for her impending death, she hated his very being and wished him dead a well. "Sven," he heard Soutrik say, but was entranced in what he was doing. The man gurgled and tried to fight for breath. With one last pull, Sven removed his hand, clutching a thick slab of flesh from his attacker's neck. He had ripped his throat out; blood poured down the Shara man's chest as he collapsed, hands trying to keep the blood from leaving his body, to keep the life within him.

Scowling, he tossed the bit of jugular in his hand to the side, careful not to unconsciously wipe the blood off on his tunic. When he turned around, Soutrik stared at him.

Soutrik watched entranced by the Accepted’s fluid movements. She felt anger through the bond and liked it. She wanted to egg Sven on and scream obscenities at the bodyguard who had stabbed her. She watched Sven rip the man’s throat out and she too felt satisfaction. It frightened her. Where am I? Why am I injured? I know this place, but how? Sven, darling one, help me? Darling one? What?! Where is that coming from? Oh, Light, I am hurt! "Where..." he began, trailing off. "Sven, you..." she began again. Scowling more, Sven shook some of the blood from his hand, and walked over to her.

"Are you okay?" He asked, and reached out to her. She tried to scoot away, but groaned in pain and clutched at her stomach. "Let me see," he said, and she shook her head. Snorting, Sven lifted her shirt to see a nasty gash across her stomach. Wincing, he suddenly felt her fear through the link, something the Soutrik back in the torture chamber would never have felt. "What's your name?" He asked as he examined the scar.

"What?" She asked uncertainly. This is madness. I am linked with him and he asks my name? Why am I linked with him anyways?

"Tell me your name," he asked again.

"You know my name," she responded and he looked at her with a glare. "My name's Soutrik," she said, still unclear, and he nodded.

"Bravo," he said. "This is going to require Healing," he sighed. As gently as he could, he lifted her, holding one arm under her shoulders the other under her legs. She groaned in pain a few more times, but Sven moved on. Again at the corner near the GateWay, he stopped; two women were there now. Cursing, Sven sat down with Soutrik in his lap. "We'll need to wait a moment," he said, and felt the fading link. "Soutrik?" He said as he looked at her. Her eyes were closed. "Oh, Light," he said frantically. Soutrik could not keep her eyes open. She was so very tired, yet she heard Sven but could not respond. Inside her mind a voice spoke to her and she listened Yes, Sven, I am here, Aloysha is here. Save me, darling one, use my ter’angreals. Help me, Sven. I need you. Aloysha needs you.

Tapping her cheeks to wake her, he became more and more worried. Glancing down, he saw the blood seeping from her stomach, soaking him. Tears began to fill his eyes. The voice inside Soutrik’s head called out but was not head by any save her, Sven, be strong for me! Save me!

"No, Soutrik," he muttered. "Don't abandon me too." He hugged her tightly, pressing his hands against the wound to stop it from bleeding. Pulling on the source, he channeled a simple Healing weave he had seen before into her scar. His hand brushed past a yellow stone on Soutrik's arm, and the wound began to knit up slowly. Still, the novice didn't stir, and he leaped up.

Passing the corner, he caught the attention of the two women, who stopped in their tracks at the sight of him. Glaring, he walked closer.

"Get away," he said, and they just looked at him. Soutrik’s mind saw with Sven’s eyes and the voice inside her head hissed vile curses at the Ayyd that approached them. Die you vile creatures! I will not be taken! Sven, kill them for he! Save us, Sven! Kill them! The voice ranted inside Soutrik’s head and she was confused still unable to understand all that was happening, yet she hated these women too. Hated them dearly and wanted to rip them apart. She was afraid at her feelings but somewhere inside herself she knew it was justice and self-preservation. Her mind gripped tightly to Sven’s image of the women seen through his eyes and passed on through the link. Despite the weakness of the link, he could still taste that hatred, and channeled Fire and Air. One of the women burst into flame, and didn't have time to scream before she died. The other stared in shock before she fainted.

Walking to the GateWay, he stepped through, hearing footsteps running from behind. Without looking back, he sliced where the weaves holding the Gateway would be with Spirit, and the hole in the pattern rotated closed. Somewhere, he heard Melanna grunt as her weaves snapped back into her. Falling to his knees, he set Soutrik on the ground. Her mind reeled and she felt tremendous loss at not being able to touch him any longer. She couldn’t open her eyes and she felt ever weaker. She did not know if she would ever look on his face again. Tears welled in her closed eyes and trickled down her cheeks. The voice inside her head struggled for control, I will not leave! No, I will fight for my life. I have come too far! We has vanquished our enemies and seen justice prevail. We can not lose! No, I can’t not abandon him, or myself. Hang on! Hang on! Sadness and grief mixed with anger and fear pulsed from Soutrik to Sven through the ever weakening link.

"Go get an Aes Sedai. A Yellow," he ordered Melanna.

"Don't you snap orders at me, boy-" the Accepted began, and Sven roared at her.

"Do it now, damn it." Shaking his head, he settled into a cross-legged position on the floor, his body and mind exhausted, focusing on the link that was gradually failing. "Come on, Soutrik," he said lowly. "Wake up. Light, please, wake up." For the first time, Sven prayed.

Moments that seemed like forever passed. The gash in Soutrik’s belly still welled blood. Sven’s Healing was too inexperienced to stop it. A pool of blood was forming around Soutrik’s body and her warm blood turned cold by the pre-dawn morning cold chilled it as it pooled and ran toward Sven, still seated next to her. He opened his eyes and stared down at the barely breathing Novice Soutrik. He renewed his prayers.

And as if the Light had heard the GoldenSwan’s prayers a Yellow Sister came running around the corner dressed only in her shift, little braids and bead clicking as she tisked. Without saying a word she settled down next to Soutrik’s body and laid hands upon her.

“Let go of the link, Accepted.” She said as she eyed the praying GoldenSwan.

Sven did let go of the link, and felt empty, Soutrik no longer touching his mind. Soutrik’s inner voice screamed, NO!. Her body shook with the waves of Healing that washed over her. Again, time seemed to slow, and moments lasted eternities.

Soutrik’s eyes fluttered, and her head rolled in Sven’s direction. She looked at him, tears still in her eyes, and mouthed a breathless, “Thank you, darling one.” Soutrik passed out. She would be okay, her inner voice told her so, and so would he.

The Yellow Sister continued to Heal the Novice. When she felt she had done all she could she and Melanna lifted Soutrik’s limp yet alive body and carried it back to the Novice’s quarters. They left Sven sitting in a pool of blood in his now stained Accepted’s tunic.