The Adventures of Kyran The Luckless Recruit - Episode 3
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. You can also keep up by reading The Adventures of Kyran The Luckless Recruit - Episode 1 and The Adventures of Kyran The Luckless Recruit - Episode 2.
Kyran unbuckled his sword. "I'll take the horse."
The innkeeper hesitated, looking Kyran over again. “You’re sure lad?”
Kyran put the sword in the man’s hands. “Just bring me a horse.”
As the innkeeper moved towards the stables Kyran had another thought. “You wouldn’t have anything for keeping nausea down, would you?”
Soon enough Kyran was on a sleek brown horse, chewing a spicy herb that the innkeeper said would keep him from feeling too sick. He was still wrapped in the cloak from the merchant caravan. Kyran’s waist felt too light without the sword, but he kept the image of Tar Valon in his mind.
The horse danced, sensing its rider’s agitation. More houses in the little town were alight, and smoke from many fires started to fill the gray morning sky.
“You go along this road for long enough you should get to the river,” the innkeeper said. “From there it’s just a short time to Tar Valon.”
“Thank you.” Kyran said, squinting his eyes to try and focus. Though the herb helped with the nausea, he had started to feel dizzy.
“Be careful lad.”
The innkeeper’s words were blown away by an icy wind as Kyran kicked his horse into a brisk trot.
Kyran pushed the horse as far as he dared all that day. He had been trained at the Tower how to handle long-distance riding, but he just didn’t have time to allow the animal every rest it needed.
And every minute brought more pain, more sickness. The bruises he had sustained from the night before gave him a twinge every time he moved, and the herbs had stopped helping with the nausea. Twice already he had had to dismount and vomit into the bushes at the roadside.
He had passed a few people, and a few small towns as well. Kyran hadn’t stopped. Who could he trust? Especially now that he didn’t have a sword.
It began to grow darker, and snow started to drift down again. Kyran dismounted and began to walk the horse to give it some rest. It was a good animal. The innkeeper hadn’t cheated him on that account.
The wind flapped his cloak behind him, the chill piercing to his bones. He stumbled. He’d done that more and more as the day wore on.
There were a few lights in the distance. A farmhouse by the look of it. Maybe someone there would give him shelter for the night.
Kyran stiffened, thinking of the merchants. He couldn’t risk stopping. He’d have to keep going.
He stumbled again, and next thing he knew he was on the ground. His vision began to grow fuzzy, and he barely heard the horse’s grunt of surprise.
The snow was cold against his face, soaking in wetly through his cloak and shirt.
What was that? A rumble of cartwheels, or was it thunder? A small light seemed to bob closer, approaching Kyran from behind.
“Help” he said, before falling unconscious.
Kyran heard a voice muttering near him, hands tucking sheets around him and the scraping noise of someone stoking a fire. A weak tea that tasted of herbs was poured into his mouth and Kyran choked on it. Herbs? Why didn’t they use the Power? He was in Tar Valon wasn’t he? Why were the Aes Sedai using herbs?
The muttering faded away. Kyran saw a blurry image of his parents’ library. The two scholars worked for a high-ranking noble, keeping her books and files in order. Kyran had grown up surrounded by ink and paper. His parents were talking to him but he couldn’t hear what they were saying.
Smells of books and ink turned into smoke. Kyran looked around and the library was gone, replaced by a roaring pillar of flame. Out of the contrast of light and shadow emerged a horde of trollocs. Grotesque beasts, like Kyran had heard them described. They were coming closer, illuminated by that horrible fire. Kyran tried to draw his sword but his fingers fumbled at the hilt. Then he didn’t have a sword at all, and he was grabbing at an empty scabbard at his waist. He tried to run, to hide, but the trollocs grabbed him. Kyran thrashed, trying to loosen their grip.
The pillar of flame disappeared, and so did the trollocs. Evening sunlight came in through a window, and a man had his hands on Kyran’s shoulders, keeping him from thrashing. Kyran tried to ask where he was, but he fell back into unconsciousness.
Kyran woke slowly, becoming aware of his surroundings piece by piece. A fire crackled somewhere nearby.
Wind whipped about outside and caused the timbers of the house to creak. There was a pervading smell of straw and earth. He was surrounded by clean sheets, and there was a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead.
He sat up a bit, looking around the room. His clothes were folded neatly on a stool beside the bed. He must be in the farmhouse he had seen before falling unconscious. It was one large room, with a fire to one side, table and chairs, and the bed Kyran was using.
A door opened, and heavy boots stamped in. Kyran instinctively searched for his sword, before remembering he had left it with the innkeeper in exchange for a horse.
“Well you’re awake. That’s a surprise enough.”
The farmer that appeared seemed to be just approaching middle age. He had gray hair on his temples and his coat was dusted with snow. Kyran recognized him as the person he’d heard muttering, and the man who had held him down while he was thrashing from fever-dreams.
He went around the room, moving a chair closer, poking the fire, and feeling at Kyran’s head. A gust of wind rattled the window panes, and Kyran could see that snow was still falling outside the window.
“You saved my life,” Kyran said.
"Probably,” the farmer said. “You’d have frozen first, but even without that you’d have been dehydrated bad by the time the fever broke.” He went back to the fire and filled up a bowl with broth before handing it to Kyran.
Kyran took the warm bowl of broth with numb hands. “How long was I unconscious?”
Three days without moving an inch closer to Tar Valon. Kyran frowned. “How soon can I be moving again?”
“You won’t be moving at all unless you drink that broth,” the farmer grumbled.
Kyran nodded, though the motion made his head hurt a little. The words seemed to remind his stomach just how long it had been since he had eaten. It took all of his discipline not to gulp the soup down.
“How far is it to Tar Valon?” Kyran asked between each spoonful.
“Blood and ashes boy why would you want to go to Tar Valon?”
The heat in the farmer’s voice took Kyran by surprise. “I am a Recruit of the White Tower. I must get back.”
The farmer just grunted and took Kyran’s empty bowl.
“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you…” Kyran hesitated, realizing he didn’t know his host’s name.
“The name is Saiph, and you haven’t offended boy.” The farmer said. “I just don’t care for the White Tower is all.”
Saiph seemed to fall into remembering, and Kyran fiddled with the edge of his blanket. The sickness confirms it doesn’t it? I channeled. Kyran never learned much about channeling at the Tower. He had been too focused on his training.
“I suppose if you’re in such a hurry boy, you could take the river route to Tar Valon.” Saiph said, breaking Kyran’s train of thought.
“Is the river route near here?”
“Not near exactly.” The farmer said, sitting back down with a sigh. “Past the next couple towns. A day or two riding, two or three by cart in this weather. You won’t be moving much nearer to Tar Valon, but you can make up time on the river.”
Kyran nodded. “How long before I’ll be well enough to go?”
“Lana, the local healer, should be coming before too long. I’ve some experience with medicine, but I’d like to have a second opinion before letting you push yourself. She’d have been here today if she weren’t delivering a baby over at the Dickenson’s farm.”
A gust of wind made the wood of the farmhouse creak.
“It’s not the safest of roads boy, the road to the river I mean.” Saiph said, looking out of the darkened window from his seat. “Been reports of bandits, and worse.”
“Worse?” Kyran asked, thinking of the bandits he had fallen in with a few nights ago.
Kyran’s brows drew together. “I had heard there were some in the area, but I wasn’t sure how far I could trust my source of information.”
Saiph shrugged, “It’s mostly rumor, but the bandits are real enough.” He looked at Kyran. “I’ll be taking a loaded cart of goods to one of the river settlements in a few days. I was going to try and get one of the Dickenson boys to help me, but if you want, you can ride along.”
He stood. “Just think about it boy. You’re welcome to come along or take your horse and go.”
Kyran leaned back in the bed as Saiph tended to the fire. The assistance of someone who knew the area would be helpful, but was there even a guarantee someone on the river would be going to Tar Valon? Kyran didn’t have any money, so he’d have to count on working to pay his passage. But he couldn’t continue to push his horse as hard as he had either.
What should Kyran do? Should he AGREE to ride with Saiph to the river route, or RIDE on by himself?
Vote in the comments before March 25 to help determine Kyran's fate!