TVTT Blue Ajah Edition - "Blue Sister"
“Edie? Are you awake?”
Edelyn opened her eyes and blinked. “Mother?”
Benita sat in the chair beside her daughter’s bed and touched the girl’s forehead lightly. “Feels like that fever of yours burned itself out.” She couldn’t keep the relief from her voice. Sick children always made her nervous.
“Fever?” Edie propped herself up on her elbows, her hazel eyes squinting into the dimness of her room. “Oh, I was sick, wasn’t I?” She laughed. “You’d think I wouldn’t forget that! What did the Wisdom give me? I feel great now.”
“I’m…not really sure,” Benita offered hesitantly. The Wisdom had come as soon as she’d sent word for her, but as Kera had gone back to her home for the appropriate herbs, Edelyn’s sudden fever was already on the way down.
“Mother,” Edie said pointedly, giving Benita a flat look. “Don’t pull that ignorant peasant thing on me. I know you wouldn’t let her touch me without knowing what she was doing.”
Benita sighed. “We are too alike, you know that?” She ruffled her daughter’s thick brown hair affectionately. “By the time Kera decided what you needed, you were getting better.”
Now Edelyn sat all the way up, her blankets falling around her waist. “What? That’s…well, three times that’s happened! Did Kera say why?”
Again Benita hesitated, but this time her daughter could not discern why. “Honestly, Kera didn’t know. She suspects it’s something you’re eating.”
Edelyn gaped for a moment before bursting into giggles. “You’re kidding! That’s the best she could come up with??” Edie herself had taken an interest in herbalism recently and had spent a couple of days a week under Kera’s tutelage. “Something I ate?”
“Now, you know that’s possible,” Benita chided, albeit with a half-smile of her own. Her oldest daughter’s amusement had always been contagious. “Thom Defaris always breaks into a rash if he eats dayberries, and just the sight of goosemint sends Pelath into dry heaves.”
“I know, Mother, but….” Edie just couldn’t stop giggling. Benita took it as a sign that she was, in fact, completely recovered. Edie looked towards the window and gasped with delight. “It’s snowing!” She bounded up out of bed, her nightgown swirling around her coltish legs, and ran to the room’s frosty panes. “Oh, it’s so beautiful.”
Benita came up behind Edelyn and noticed for the first time that the girl was nearly as tall as she was. “Yes, it is.” Her voice was soft and full of some emotion that Edelyn didn’t understand. Edie looked up and found her mother’s eyes shimmering.
“Mama?” she asked, voice small and skittish. At fourteen she struggled to be as adult as she could, but the thought of her mother crying over snow sent her back to her earlier childhood.
But when Benita looked at her, the tears were gone, if they’d in fact even been there. “Why don’t you get dressed, honey, and go play with Timon and Sheyrl?”
Edelyn squealed with delight, her worries over her mother and her Wisdom and her illness dissolving. She threw on her snowclothes, braided her hair and wound it around her head, and ran out the house’s front door. The sounds of her and the two younger children quickly reached the house and Benita’s ears.
Benita stood there a moment longer, watching her wonderful children play. A single tear she could not suppress rolled in silence down her cheek and she turned from the window. She bent down and picked up Edie’s nightgown, folded it and put it back in the trunk. Then she lovingly made the bed, trying to ease her mind by smoothing the sheets, tucking them in and fluffing pillows.
She wasn’t normally a sentimental person – she hadn’t come close to crying at Devid’s wedding last spring. Yet she knew something bigger was going to happen, something that might steal her daughter away from her for who knew how long. Maybe forever.
As she blew out the candle in her daughter’s room, she looked around one last time. Then, in the late afternoon’s gloom, shut the door. Vinic was in the forge, working on the latest orders he’d received, and the children were all outside. Benita looked around her comfortable home, knowing it would never be quite the same.
She had to protect Edelyn from herself. Snow this time, and while it was winter there should not have been any snow as there had been no clouds in the sky for a week. Last time it had been a thunderstorm, and before that, hail. Each could’ve been natural and nothing out of season for their village in the northernmost reaches of Andor. But Edie had taken ill after each one, only to feel better in a matter of hours. That was unnatural, and Benita knew it.
She moved through the living quarters and sat herself down at their large oaken desk. She pulled out a fresh piece of paper, unstopped the inkpot, and dipped in their best quill.
My warmest friend,
You once bade me promise to write to you if I should encounter the blooming of a rare rose. Although you clearly described to me so I might know what I saw, I never thought to see it in my lifetime. Now I have not only seen it, it blooms in winter within my own garden. While I am loathe to part with this precious flower, I know you are better equipped to tend it than I. Please, make haste to us here in Silmons Well. I would not want this rose to wilt.
Watching in the Light,
Benita sprinkled sand across the fresh ink, then blew it off. She gave herself no time to think or change her mind. Benita folded the parchment as small as she could and sealed it with the stamp the woman had given her. Tucking the letter into her pocket, Benita crossed her home again and took her cloak down off its peg. She slid into her boots and let herself out. As she crossed to the flowerhouse, she listened to Edie scream while Tim and Shey dumped snow down the back of her clothes. It sounded right, and yet she knew it couldn’t last. Why do they ever have to grow up?
When Benita reached her flowerhouse, she quickly removed the cloak. All of the windows here kept the shed warm even in the coldest Taisham. She ignored her work for the moment, though, and went to the cage she’d had for the last two years. The woman who she’d promised to aid had left it here for her, and Benita had taken excellent care of the pigeons the woman sent to her every couple of months. Normally she sent the birds back to their owner empty-handed (Or taloned, she thought with distracted amusement). Today, however, she reached into the cage and placed the letter she’d written into the little covering on the bird’s leg. Then she picked up the pigeon gently, went to the window, and let it fly.
And fly it did. The snow was tapering off after four good hours, and the bird flew due north, up through the thicket of trees in the Braem Wood, back towards the isle of Tar Valon. Benita could not decide if she wanted it to reach the White Tower or not. She stood there until the bird had been out of sight for ten minutes, then closed the window. She needed to finish supper.
The sun was beginning to peak over the barren treeline as Iyanla rode into the town of Silmons Well. The snow had ceased sometime during the night, for which she was immensely grateful. She lifted her chocolate brown eyes to scan the pale pink-and-blue sky and watched the little fluffy clouds disperse. Chasm, her black gelding, shook his head and whickered, as if picking up her thoughts on how unnatural the previous day’s weather had been.
The Aes Sedai should have reached Silmons Well yesterday when the surprise snowstorm caught her only five miles outside the town’s boundaries. Iyanla might still be considered young by some – at sixty-three, she’d only held the shawl for fifteen years – but she knew unnatural weather when she saw it. Cloud Dancing ran strong in her, and for the moment she was glad of it.
Still, as she rode through the town she’d visited two years prior, she wished that the letter had come from someplace warmer. Light knew she preferred the warmer climes of Elmora rather than the snowy months in Andor or Tar Valon. But Tarabon held little for her now other than memories. Her sister, Kiva, wrote sometimes, letting her know about the doings of her nieces and nephews, but there was such a distance between them that spanned more than mere miles. Iyanla knew her older sister still resented not being chosen to go to the White Tower, but there was nothing she herself could do about that. The Pattern wove as it would and it certainly didn’t listen to little ol’ her.
Chasm seemed to know the way to the Tharpe house, guided gently by Iyanla’s familiar knees. She had bought the horse before her first journey from the White Tower, three years after her raising. The Blue Ajah tended to be particular about how quickly it sent its members out into the fire, and Iyanla had finally worked her way off the island and down to Cairhien. Chasm had been her faithful companion since that nervous morning when she’d ridden out of the stables.
Iyanla blinked, pulling herself from her reverie. Why am I so preoccupied with the past today? she asked herself. The answer was fairly apparent: she was here to collect a future Novice, and it kept reminding her of just how far she herself had come from being the sheltered younger daughter of a very minor Taraboner noble family to ostensibly one of the most powerful women in the world.
Not that she would be putting on such an act for Benita. Iyanla recalled the warm and friendly woman who loved her flowers nearly as much as she loved her children. The Blue recalled her daughter, Edelyn, following her around with large brown eyes. She knew that must be who Benita meant in her letter, and most likely who’d set the previous night’s snowfall in motion, too. She only hoped that Benita understood that her child would have to accompany her back to Tar Valon. Sometimes that issue got…messy…with parents.
Iyanla reined Chasm in before a large, comfortable wooden home. It hadn’t changed much, like the rest of the town, in the past two years. The frosty windows glowed with the breakfast fire already burning inside. Iyanla slid down off the horse and tethered him to the post out front. As she made her way to the door, she pulled back the hood of her thick grey cloak, letting her long, honey-blonde hair fall freely. She had not affected the beaded braids of her homeland since she had left it; and without them and her extremely scrubbed accent, quite a few people mistook her for Andoran despite her coppery skin and rosebud mouth.
Her gloved hand rapped on the door, and she shook her cloak free of lingering snowflakes. No one answered the door, and Iyanla frowned. As she lifted her hand to knock again, the door flew open. A middle aged man, presumably Benita’s husband looking haggard, glared at her. “You’re not the Wisdom.” It sounded like an accusation.
Iyanla pushed her way past him. “No, but if you have need of her, I can help.” She pulled off her cloak and handed it to him. “What’s the problem?”
At that point, Benita came out to see what the fuss was about. She, too, looked wrung out and nearly ready to cry. When her eyes fell on Iyanla, they widened. “Oh!” Her face bloomed into a visage of hope. “Please, help us.” She took the Aes Sedai’s hand and led her into a bedroom.
Edelyn lay on her bed, her face a youthful, flushed version of her mother’s. Her brunette hair was damp and matted to her neck and forehead, and her eyes were glazed with high fever. “How long has she been like this?” Iyanla asked softly, sitting down on the bed as she removed her gloves. She touched the back of her hand lightly to Edelyn’s forehead and hissed as she drew it quickly back. Much too hot for her own good.
“It came on her an hour ago,” Benita replied, her voice cracking with fear. “We sent for Kera – our Wisdom – but she’s in a birthing and I just don’t know what to do. We even thought about sending Shey down to Glittering Ford for their Wisdom, but – ” She cut off and shook her head. “No, we couldn’t risk her going that far.”
Iyanla opened herself to the life that was saidar and felt into Edelyn’s body. Not an illness, but she hadn’t expected it to be. Within an hour, the girl would be fine. Assuming she could stop killing herself by channeling unwittingly. “I believe she will recover completely, Benita.” The woman sagged against her husband, who gave the Aes Sedai a frown over his wife’s head.
“And how do you know this?”
Iyanla’s mouth quirked. “An Aes Sedai does not reveal her methods, Master Tharpe.”
The click of his swallow was loud. “As you say, ma’am. But if she’s not ill, then what is causing the fever?”
Iyanla looked back down on the girl, still moaning in her incapacitated state. “She has poisoned herself, Master Tharpe. She has dipped into the One Power without knowing.” He gasped, but when the Aes Sedai lifted her eyes to meet the couples’, she saw resignation on Benita’s face. “Most girls who touch the One Power like so make themselves ill with it. They do not know control any more than they know their actions. Why this one here has chosen to do so I know not. But she will do so again and again until she either learns to control it, or it kills her.
“I, however, do not intend to let her die. Winter has begun to settle in completely here, and travel will be difficult. I will stay here for now with her, until spring allows us back north. With patient practice, I can teach her what she needs to know to stay alive. But,” she added pointedly, leaving no room for argument, “when I do leave, she will come with me.”
Iyanla rose. “Keep her comfortable until this fever passes, Benita. I will return here later this evening to meet with Edelyn.”
“Is that the White Tower, Iyanla?” Edelyn’s eyes were wider than teacups as she stared across the river at the massive structure. “Light, it’s beautiful!” She squealed and clapped her hands together with delight. Bobbin, the brown mare she rode, whickered in agreement but didn’t dump her rider onto the road.
“Child, have you already forgotten your months of lessons?” Iyanla’s face was smooth, but Edelyn could see the consternation in the woman’s eyes.
“Sorry, Iyanla Sedai.”
The older woman nodded, honeyed hair bouncing merrily in the warm spring breeze. And she couldn’t argue with the obvious enthusiasm Edelyn displayed at seeing Tar Valon. She herself had felt that way when she came to be a Novice, and the girl’s excitement was irrepressible. It had been from the moment Iyanla had told her about the One Power and her ability to channel. The winter had been long, with Edelyn wanting to run off every moment while her poor mother tried to hang on to every second she still had with her daughter.
The pair led their horses across the Alindaer bridge, the Erinin flowing quietly beneath them. Edelyn grinned constantly, thrilled to be adventuring into a life she never thought possible back in Silmons Well. Iyanla had prepared her for the possibility of failure, and she was practical enough to know that anything might happen between now and the future, but the thought of becoming Aes Sedai kept her spirits high. No matter how much hard work and years of sweat and tears it took, Edelyn would make something of herself. She knew it.
It was a pity, she thought, that she couldn’t keep her nice riding dress. Iyanla had told her that all of her things would be confiscated when she signed her name in the Novice book, and a great number of other tales that were meant to simply scare her. Thinking back on it a few days later, Edelyn would realize that Iyanla had actually not let on how hard life at the White Tower would be. But even then she didn’t care. She was here, and she wouldn’t back away from the challenge. She would make her mother proud.