The Adventures of Kyran The Luckless Recruit - Episode 1
Author: Elyss Koh'inor
Help Kyran the Luckless Recruit navigate a path of danger and excitement! At the end of each episode, vote in the comments to set Kyran in the right direction.
Kyran hit the ground with a thump, knocking the breath from his lungs.
“Again.” The Gaidin in charge of this exercise growled.
Kyran stifled a groan as he got up. Three tries on the obstacle course today and he was already sore. At least he hadn’t landed on his sword. Kyran knew from experience doing that would leave a nasty bruise.
He had expected rough training when he became a Recruit. If he wanted to be a Warder one day he needed to be tough. But Kyran hadn’t seen the obstacle course before he applied. If he had, he might have changed his mind.
There were rotating platforms that shifted under a person’s feet, and rope bridges that would give way in unexpected places. Rock outcroppings dotted the course too. There were even a few Accepted on the sides throwing the occasional fire ball or trying to trip the Recruits with ropes of air.
Wrent Gaidin waved another Recruit to start as Kyran got back in line. Kyran brushed off his clothes and tried to get the sand out of his brown hair.
He was shorter than most of the other Recruits. That didn’t really help when trying to navigate the obstacle course. He could duck under things better, but the taller Recruits could climb quicker.
Kyran saw an Aes Sedai join the group of Accepted. Great. He thought. All I need is for an Aes Sedai to start throwing weaves at me.
“Recruit Kyran, go!”
The order caught Kyran by surprise. He sprinted forward, leaping over the first few hurdles. The rope bridge was singed from fire weaves, but it held as he crossed.
Kyran scrambled up the first rock outcropping. His sword always got in his way at this part, knocking against the stone.
The hair on the back of his neck began to stand up. “Bloody One Power.” He muttered, pulling himself over the last few feet. Just below him the rock was shattered by a bolt of lightning.
He rolled off to the other side, dropping lightly on his feet. There was something going on with the Accepted, but he focused on avoiding pendulum-like sandbags swinging across his path.
Kyran dodged one, then another. The third clipped his sword but he kept his footing.
“No Gateways!” The Aes Sedai shouted.
Kyran turned. An Accepted was jerked away by an Aes Sedai, a half-formed Gateway flying out.
The moment of distraction was all it took. Kyran collided with one of the sand bags. He fell off the platform.
And into the Accepted’s Gateway.
Kyran woke up suddenly, jolted awake by the sensation of pain over his entire body. At first he thought he must have fallen into the lava pit from the obstacle course.
The obstacle course…The Gateway.
He pushed himself up, but the world around him immediately seemed to be spinning.
“I’m not dead?” Kyran muttered. Gateways were extremely dangerous under the best of circumstances. They weren’t normally allowed during the obstacle course because their razor edges could cut through a Recruit too easily. How could an Accepted have used such an advanced weave? Kyran didn’t know much about the One Power or the training inside the White Tower, but he did know only full Aes Sedai were allowed to make Gateways.
He tried to calm his mind. The world had stopped spinning around him. It was cold, the winter sun weak and low in the horizon. He didn’t know where he was.
Kyran stood slowly, trying not to fall back down. He felt a bruise coming up on his right side where he had landed.
His sword was really the only thing he had with him. In the training grounds the obstacle course had kept him warm enough that he hadn’t worn a cloak. Now the cold nipped at him as he steadied himself. He didn’t have any money or food either. It would all be back in his dorm room.
Kyran saw he had landed near a packed dirt road. Without much hesitation he started walking along it. Maybe he would meet someone as he walked and he could get directions.
Kyran kept stumbling forward until the sun had dipped halfway behind the horizon. The cold air had gone from nipping at him to biting, and clouds had come up that threatened snow.
He needed to find some shelter before nightfall, particularly if there was going to be snow. This deep into winter he could end up losing a finger or toe to frostbite, or worse.
As he approached a thicket on the side of the road he started to hear voices. There was a thin stream a smoke coming from the trees. Smoke meant fire. Fire meant warmth. Kyran didn’t think much beyond that before he started to go nearer.
Two large dogs burst from the thicket, barking loudly. Even in his cold and exhausted state Kyran’s training kicked in. He jumped back, hand on his sword. Only a sudden shout stopped him from unsheathing his weapon.
“’ere! Who’re you?”
Kyran didn’t move, and kept his eyes on the dogs. “I’m a Recruit of the White Tower. I’m lost and would appreciate if you’d keep your bloody dogs away from me.”
The two dogs growled low, until a sharp whistled called them back. Kyran relaxed slightly, looking at the man who had spoken.
His clothing marked him as a merchant at once. Kyran’s glance took in the man’s large stature and moderately fine coat. Not too good, not too shabby either. Kyran hadn’t had much experience with merchants since he had gone to train at the Tower. Something about this one made him hesitate before going closer.
“So you’re lost are you?” The merchant said, clapping Kyran on the shoulder. “Good thing you came up on us. You could freeze to death tonight in nothing but a shirt and vest.”
A few flakes of snow fluttered down as if to punctuate the merchant’s words.
“I noticed.” Kyran muttered, looking around the camp. The men were less well-dressed than their leader. They lounged around the campfire, some guarding a few carts worth of goods. Kyran could see five, and they probably had at least two others on guard duty.
“Sit down and warm yourself.” The leader said, lowering himself onto the ground.
Kyran sat, but the tension didn’t go out of his body. He wouldn’t have sat down at all if it weren’t for the fire. These men made him wary.
“A Recruit of the White Tower.” The merchant muttered, more to himself than to Kyran.
Kyran nodded but remained silent, trying to fit the image of stoic, silent Warder. The other men were talking quietly among themselves. No singing, no games of dice, not even boasting about half-true adventures. Either merchant bands had changed since Kyran had been at the Tower, or this group was decidedly odd.
“Well we’re headin’ to Tar Valon ourselves.” The lead merchant said, pulling out a loaf of bread. “Would’ve been there before winter but my supply man skipped out of town.”
“How far of a journey is it to Tar Valon?” Kyran asked. It was hard to be stoic and silent when you needed information.
The merchant shrugged as he tore the bread in half. “No more than three weeks by wagon. A little more by foot.” He held out the bread to Kyran.
Kyran’s hopes fell. More than three weeks walking, with no food, no money, and nothing to keep himself warm. He took the offered bread with a silent nod of thanks.
Some of Kyran’s disappointment must have showed on his face, because the merchant looked him over appraisingly. “We’ll be needin’ another man to help guard the goods. There’ve been rumors of trollocs in these parts and I wouldn’t mind havin’ another man who knows one end of a sword from another.”
“Trollocs?” Kyran scoffed, “They haven’t been anywhere near here for ages.”
The merchant shrugged. “I’m just tellin’ you what we’ve been hearin’.” His face became serious again. “I have a cloak I could spare you, and you’d have your meals and a little change in your pocket as well.”
The offer was tempting, despite the bad air around the camp. Kyran wrestled with the decision while he slowly ate his part of the loaf of bread. If he left, he would almost certainly freeze to death. But his instincts had been waving red flags since he had entered the camp.
What should Kyran do? Should he STAY with the merchants, or LEAVE and take his chances on his own?
Vote in the comments before Jan. 25 to help determine Kyran's fate!