The Tower Mystery - Episode 2
Author: Elyss Koh'inor, August 2016
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Leora Maltana couldn’t sleep. The excitement of the evening kept her tossing and turning, running over the scenarios in her mind.
She got up and started to pace the length of her dorm room. Two other Accepted slumbered peacefully. Sailea and Chaelca didn’t move when Leora left the room.
Pulling on her robe, Leora walked down the stone hall to the privy. The Amyrlin’s note rustled slightly as she slid it into her pocket. It was silly, she knew, but those words had become like a talisman for her. If the Amyrlin thought she could help, by the Light she would help.
When she passed a small window, Leora hesitated. The blackened ground of the terrace, where the fireworks had been prepared, could be seen clearly in the bright moonlight.
Leora studied the ground, tracing the paths of the explosives with her eye. Part of her wanted to slip out of the Tower that moment to inspect the ground without anyone else present.
A flicker of movement caught her eye.
Someone else had the idea of a quiet inspection as well.
Leora strained, trying to determine who the figure was. It was no use. The figure was still moving around the site, as if searching for something, but they were too far away.
The Accepted didn’t let herself think much longer. Robe flaring behind her, she trotted barefoot down the hallways and stairs.
Scrubbing the same hallways for chores had made Leora familiar with the Tower’s twists and turns. Soon she was quietly shutting the door leading out to the terrace.
She snuck closer to the site of the explosions. Hopefully the person hadn’t left yet.
A glint of metal in the moonlight caught her eye. Something was half-buried in the soft dirt. Leora picked it up, revealing a silvery pendent attached to a thin, broken chain.
There was a small movement ahead. Someone stood up. Leora grasped the pendent in her fist and crept forward, hidden behind a flowering bush.
Something cracked underneath the Accepted’s foot.
The sharp noise made Leora’s breath catch in her throat, and before she could move her hands and feet were bound with flows of air.
“Who is that?” A voice called out. A pull at her bonds made Leora stumble into the open.
Nymala Sedai’s face was almost hidden in the mixture of moonlight and shadows.
“What is an Accepted doing outside at a time like this?” She asked, looking Leora over from head to foot.
Leora opened her mouth to explain, but didn’t get a chance.
“Did you leave something incriminating behind this evening?” the Aes Sedai raised an eyebrow.
“No!” Leora protested, and would have said more if the bonds hadn’t given another tug before dissipating.
Leora’s training as a Novice made her respond to the command almost on instinct. Nymala walked close behind her, and Leora didn’t doubt that she was ready to replace the bonds of air at an instant. The silver pendent dug into her palm, hidden in her fist.
They reentered the Tower. Leora climbed steps, turned corners, and walked down hallways. She tried to imitate an Aes Sedai calm; however, thoughts of saboteurs and potential murders kept popping into her mind.
And what about the pendent? Was it a clue? What if the Aes Sedai realized Leora had found something, and was hiding it?
At least the warm summer air kept Leora from shivering in her night shift and robe. If Nymala Sedai was one of the saboteurs, she wouldn’t think Leora was afraid.
Soon the Aes Sedai stopped Leora at a heavy wooden door. A sharp knock, and the door swung open.
Leora dropped into a curtsey as she entered the stark room. “Kyla Sedai.”
The Head of the Blue Ajah regarded her coolly. Nymala stepped forward. “I found her snooping around the terrace, near the explosion site.”
Kyla raised an eyebrow, looking Leora over. “You raised the alarm this evening. Why were you there tonight?”
Leora launched into the explanation, of seeing movement in the explosion site and slipping outside. She thought about showing the Amyrlin’s note, but a thought stopped her. What if Kyla and Nymala were both in the sabotage plot?
Sitting down in the room’s only chair, Kyla Sedai continued looking at the Accepted before her. “The Amyrlin made me her personal investigator earlier this evening,” She finally said, pulling out a piece of paper. “I have been assigned to look into the causes of tonight’s accident.”
Leora glanced at Nymala.
“Nymala is one of the few Aes Sedai I knew I could trust fully,” Kyla Sedai said. “She was acting as one of my agents tonight.”
Leora pulled out her own piece of paper, still careful to keep the pendent and chain hidden. “The Amyrlin also ordered me to look into the events of this evening.”
The Head of the Blue Ajah’s face didn’t change from its Aes Sedai calm, but Leora thought she could see a tinge of surprise in the woman’s eyes.
“To think,” She muttered, “Giving this sort of responsibility to an Accepted.” After a moment’s pause she handed the paper back to Leora. “Go,” she said, “but stay out of our way.”
Leora didn’t argue, though she was fuming on the inside. When she had learned that Kyla Sedai was working for the Amyrlin, she had thought to share knowledge of the pendent with the head of the Blue Ajah. Now, Leora decided, she would keep that knowledge to herself. She gave another quick curtsey and left the room, retracing her steps down stairways and through halls and stuffing the pendent into the pocket of her robe. The Amyrlin had obviously trusted her enough to investigate what was going on, why couldn’t Kyla Sedai?
She was still fuming when she nearly ran into Raevienda al’Toma, a Yellow Aes Sedai.
“What are you doing out at this time of night?!” the Aes Sedai asked in a harsh whisper. Not waiting for an answer she pointed down the hall. “To bed with you.”
Leora bobbed a curtsey and murmured a suitable reply.
When she opened the door to her dormitory, hands grasped her shoulders in the darkness.
“Leora where have you been?!” Sailea whispered, shaking her roommate a little.
Leora, who had almost screamed when Sailea grabbed her, explained briefly. Both Accepted were whispering, trying not to wake the sleeping Chaelca.
“Well,” Sailea said, sitting on her bed. “You know who probably did it don’t you?”
Leora tilted her head to one side, lighting a candle with a small flow of fire. “Who?”
“Satrim Kha’os of course.” Sailea explained. “You know he’s the biggest prankster in the Tower.”
Leora shook her head. “Satrim is a prankster, but he wouldn’t try to kill the Amyrlin.”
“No no!” Sailea said. She and Satrim were both Red Aspirants. “But he may have been setting up a prank, and accidently pointed the tubes at Mother. He wasn’t with the group of Accepted earlier.”
“Hmm.” Leora mused. Sailea laid back down, and soon Leora could hear the soft, easy breathing of sleep. Only then did she draw the pendent and chain out from the pocket of her robe and hold it up to the light of the candle.
It was triangular, but the corners were rounded, reminiscent of an arrowhead. A small loop had been worked into the broad side to hang from the thin chain. The silver was etched with incredibly detailed birds, and words in a language Leora didn’t recognize. The chain was obviously of similar quality, but the links had broken near the clasp.
Finished studying the piece of jewelry, Leora replaced it in the pocket of her robe with the Amyrlin’s note and blew out the candle.
When the bells chimed early morning, Leora had barely slept. Bryher Sedai came to her as the Accepted finished her breakfast to tell her that she did not need to come to her class that day.
Two other Aes Sedai, Ahmyra al’Ruley and Stasia t’Andrei, also came to tell Leora that she did not need to attend their classes. They did not say so, but Leora guessed that the Amyrlin had worked to make Leora’s schedule clear for that day at least.
She walked out of the Tower, making her way through the Gardens towards the explosion site. Before she got close, she saw several Aes Sedai and a Gaidin guarding the area. Leora thought she recognized Asandra al’Terra and Morgana Arakos, of the Blue Ajah. Kyla Sedai must have arranged for them to be conveniently missing the night before.
“How’re you this morning Leora?”
Leora turned at the sound of her name. It was Kerwin, a Recruit. He was standing by the Wall, watching as a Soldier tried to reach the top. Leora recognized Arie Davion, a recent addition to the Soldier ranks.
As she drew nearer, she put her hand over her nose in disgust. “What is that smell?”
Kerwin shrugged. “Cahalan Sedai seems to think it’s a good way to test the new Soldier’s skills.”
“And it’s working!” Arie said angrily from her grip on the wall. She dropped, landing on her feet next to Kerwin and Leora. She gave a shaky grin to Cahalan Sedai, who began to walk over. “I won’t be able to wash this smell off my clothes for a month.”
Even Kerwin wrinkled his nose at that. When Cahalan Sothron joined the group, the smell grew worse.
“I suppose this method is effective,” She observed with Aes Sedai coolness, “But it is just as effective on me as it is on the climber.”
Leora watched as the Aes Sedai walked away. Something was odd. She couldn’t quite put her finger to it, but Leora could swear something just wasn’t right.
“What are you doing out and about?” Arie asked, “Don’t you have classes?”
Leora explained about going to look at the explosion site. Then she hesitated. “You don’t know where Satrim is do you?”
Kerwin shook his head, and Arie shrugged, “Haven’t seen him lately.”
Leora nodded, deep in thought. “Thanks.”
She left the Recruit and Soldier in a discussion on how to remove the smell of rotten eggs from cloth. The Aes Sedai and Gaidin surrounding the crime scene seemed to glare down at her from the top of the terrace. At the last moment, she turned aside, heading back into the Tower.
Maybe she should ask Satrim a few questions.
Thanks for reading the second episode! Episode 3 will appear in next month's issue.