The Tower Mystery - Episode 3

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Author: Elyss Koh'inor, September 2016

TarValon.Net members have signed up to be included in a mystery! The story will be released in six episodes over the next six months. Look out for your friends, or if you signed up, for your own name! You can catch up on the first and second episodes if necessary. Have fun reading.

“Satrim? What has he done now?” Ealandrelle Melyma asked.

Leora explained that she was just looking for the Red Aspirant, not that he was in any particular trouble. Ealandrelle Sedai was the third Red Sister she had asked so far about his whereabouts. Relinya Sedai and Ajailyn Sedai didn’t know where he was.

“I saw him wandering towards the Old Warder and Hen about an hour ago,” Ealandrelle Sedai said.

Leora hesitated a moment and then pulled the silver pendant from her pocket. She hated having to reveal it to anyone, but she needed answers. “Do you recognize this?”

Ealandrelle Sedai studied it for a moment before shaking her head. “It’s beautiful, but I’ve never seen it before. What language is that?”

“I don’t know,” Leora answered.

“You should ask Kitan Tataru to look at that.” Ealandrelle suggested, “She’s as good as a Brown with languages.”

Thanking the Aes Sedai, Leora pocketed the pendant and walked briskly towards the Old Warder and Hen.

When Leora opened the door, she was greeted with the familiar sights of Tar Valon’s favorite tavern. The windows were open to the morning sunlight, and a few people sat scattered at tables. Citizen Miridyth Al’Landerin sat at a back table with an early lunch, reading a book. Enya Tawarwaith and Avendaella Tikvah, Aes Sedai of the White Ajah, both sat at a table with a crisp white cloth, discussing something over steaming cups of tea.

Leora spotted a Red Aspirant’s uniform. Satrim was talking at a table with Carina al’Sim, a Citizen of Tar Valon. Everyone knew Carina, assistant to a prosperous Tar Valon merchant, helped Satrim with most of his pranking supplies.

“I need at least six crates of ferrets…” Satrim trailed off as Leora approached.

The Accepted nodded towards Carina before sitting down. “Where were you last night Satrim? When the explosion happened.”

The normally jovial Red Aspirant’s face fell as Leora spoke. “Why does everyone bloody think it was me?!”

“Someone’s already asked you?”

“Jeffan found me earlier this morning,” Satrim grumbled.

Leora nodded. Jeffan was a Blue Aspirant, and probably working with Kyla’s investigation. It seemed like most of the Blue Ajah was working with Kyla’s investigation. “So,” she continued, “Where were you?”

“Rappelling down the side of the Tower.”

Leora raised an eyebrow.

“It’s true!” Satrim protested.

“I sold him thirty feet of rappelling rope three days ago,” Carina said. “Along with three canisters of red paint.”

“I was going to paint something extremely witty on the side of the Tower,” Satrim grinned.

“But you didn’t,” Leora said.

“Obviously,” Satrim said, leaning back in his chair. “I dropped my paint brush before I could even get started.”

“I told you to get an extra one,” Carina muttered.

Leora frowned. “You could see the terrace from up there couldn’t you?”

Satrim nodded.

“Did you see anything suspicious before the fireworks went off?”

The Red Aspirant shrugged. “Saw some people leave about twenty minutes before it happened. Not much, just a glimpse. I swung inside Theolyn Sedai’s office just before the explosion to splash around some red paint I just so happened to have on hand.”

“People leaving…” Leora mused. She had found the troupe of Illuminators earlier that morning. They were adamant that none of their group was near the terrace for at least an hour before the explosion. The fireworks wouldn’t have needed tending until right before the final show. “How many?”

“I was a little occupied by not falling to my death,” Satrim said flatly. “Can’t give you an accurate head count.”

Satrim looked over his shoulder as the door to the Old Warder and Hen opened. Two Gray Sisters, Maibella Rhoiden and Siera al’Cere, seemed to glide in, settling at a table reserved for the Gray Ajah.

“If you’ll excuse me.” Satrim grinned, “I released a flock of angry parakeets in the Gray sitting room this morning. I’m sure the Aes Sedai would appreciate me checking on them.”

Leora just rolled her eyes. That was one lead down.

“Carina,” Leora said, turning to the Citizen. “Have you sold any supplies to other Tower members recently?”

Tapping the table thoughtfully, Carina frowned in concentration. “Not that I remember. I did sell some extra-long fuses to Nebka Galen, yesterday evening in fact. She said she was running errands for the Illuminators and they needed more fuses.”

Leora sat back thoughtfully at this revelation. She knew from being raised with Illuminators that they always had extra fuses on hand. They never got supplies the night of a show in case something was faulty. So why would Nebka need those long fuses?

She slid the pendant out of her pocket and showed it to Carina. “Did you happen to sell this to anyone?”

Carina shook her head, “My employer doesn’t work with jewelry. Taxes are too high.”

Leora nodded, replacing the pendant into her pocket. “Thanks anyway.”

Leora’s slippered feet made soft footfalls as she walked through a Tower hallway. After spending the morning tracking down Satrim, she was spending her lunchtime trying to find Kitan Sedai. Aes Sedai investigators like Kyla could have simply sent a messenger scurrying off, but the Accepted was forced to do all her own legwork.

Turning the corner, Leora almost collided with Lok Sionn. The Soldier was on the ceiling, as usual, and grinned when he saw her.

“How’s the mystery going?” Lok asked.

Leora raised an eyebrow. “News travels that fast, eh?”

Lok just chuckled.

“I don’t suppose you’ve seen Kitan Sedai anywhere?”

“Not today.” Lok finally dropped from the ceiling to walk beside Leora. “Is she a suspect?”

Leora grimaced, “Not yet at least. I just wanted her advice about a strange inscription I found.” She pulled out the silver pendant.

“Why don’t you ask Cahalan Sedai?” Lok shrugged. “I think she has one very similar.”

“Really?” Leora moved to turn down a side hallway.

Lok nodded, “Don’t suppose you’ve seen Elanda Tonil have you?”

Leora stopped, frowning. She remembered glimpsing Elanda the night of the firework explosion. “Not recently.”

“I’ve actually been sent to look for her. People haven’t seen her in a while. I think even the Aes Sedai are starting to get worried.”

“Hmm,” Leora murmured. “I’ll keep an eye out.” She went down the hallway at a swift trot before Lok could say anything else.

She dashed towards the Blue quarters. Hopefully, Leora could avoid Kyla Sedai and her assistants. If more than one person had a copy of this pendant, or if Cahalan Sedai had lost hers on the terrace…Leora felt that she was drawing near a solution to the case.

Leora knocked softly on the heavy wood of Cahalan’s door. The blue floor tiles below seemed to glow with early afternoon sunlight. Leora knocked again.

No answer.

The knob turned easily under Leora’s hand, and the Accepted slipped in. She was just as surprised that the room had been left unlocked as she was that she had taken advantage of that fact. The Accepted didn’t give herself much time to think but set to quietly inspecting the Aes Sedai’s room.

Small silver figures shaped like a line of s’redits lined the mantelpiece, some starting to grow dark with tarnish. Leora frowned at them but kept working. Cahalan Sedai’s things were normally kept in pristine order. Leora herself had polished the s’redit statuettes many times when her lessons with the Aes Sedai had gone sour. The mantel underneath them was growing dusty as well. When was the last time the Tower servants had been allowed inside to clean?

Leora found what she was looking for. A small wooden box with several drawers, for holding pieces of jewelry. It was set on a small table beside the four-poster bed.

She pulled the drawers one at a time, careful not to disturb the contents. She held a bit of the Power without realizing it at first. Aes Sedai were known to sometimes put traps woven of Saidar around their belongings.

No silver pendant was in the jewelry box. Leora took a step towards the heavy wooden wardrobe across from the door.

The door to the room began to open.

Leora stiffened, eyes searching for somewhere to hide. The window was open, but the drop to the ground below would kill her. The wardrobe? No, the door was opening too quickly.

Wil Cambrae, Gaidin of San d’ma Shadar, entered the room and shut the door quietly behind him. Leora held her breath. In the seconds before the door swung wide she had scrambled underneath the bed. Her back was against the wall, and she could see the Gaidin’s boots as he walked stealthily around the room.

There was a rustling of papers. Wil Gaidin was going through the papers on Cahalan’s desk, across the room from the bed.

Leora decided to risk catching a glimpse of the Gaidin at work. She slid slowly so that she could peek from under the bed.

He was bent over the desk, glancing through the papers. As Leora watched, he seemed to find what he was looking for. Wil read it, then carefully folded it into an inner pocket of his coat.

Bent over with coat open to put away the piece of paper, a necklace slipped free and dangled over the desk for a moment. Wil grabbed it, returning it to under his shirt.

Leora stifled a gasp, sliding back under the bed before the Gaidin could see her. The necklace was silver, with an intricately engraved pendant the shape of an arrowhead.

Thanks for reading the third episode! Episode 4 will appear in next month's issue.