The Tower Mystery - Episode 4
Author: Elyss Koh'inor, October 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, second, and third episodes if necessary. Have fun reading.
Leora stayed under the bed in Cahalan Southron’s room for several minutes after Wil Gaidin slipped out as quietly as he had entered.
Her heart thumping, Leora crawled from under the bed, dusting off her banded Accepted’s dress. She went to the desk and quickly looked over the documents Wil Cambrae had left untouched. Why was a Gaidin rifling through an Aes Sedai’s papers?
Nothing incriminating was left on the top of the desk. Leora heard a bell chiming in the distance. The afternoon was advancing rapidly. She crossed to the heavy wooden wardrobe. Leora opened the doors carefully, wary of traps woven of the Power. The scent of rotten eggs wafted out. Gagging, Leora found the smelly dress shoved into the back corner of the wardrobe. Why wouldn’t Cahalan send this to be washed?
Then she saw. On the hem, a long dark smudge. Leora knew what it was even before she brought it to her nose. Under the mask of the sulfuric odor was the unmistakable scent of the chemicals used in fireworks.
Leora channeled slightly, slicing the hem of the dress so the slip of fabric fell into her hand. She shoved the dress back where she found it and shut the door to the wardrobe.
Samarasin Tavaral stood at the end of the hallway when the Accepted cracked the door. Leora froze, watching the Red Aes Sedai. The woman walked towards Cahalan’s rooms, and Leora’s stomach dropped.
Morgana Arakos of the Blue Ajah had emerged from her own room. She and the Red started chatting in low tones, and Leora breathed a sigh of relief. Morgana invited the other woman to have some tea, and despite Samarasin’s protests the Blue took her by the arm. Leora’s brow furrowed. She hadn’t known Morgana and Samarasin to be particularly friendly before now.
When the door to Morgana’s rooms shut behind the pair, Leora slipped out and started walking towards her own rooms. Her heart was thumping madly, and the strip of cloth in her pocket seemed to weigh her down.
Lok had seemed sure that Cahalan Sedai possessed a necklace like the one she had found at the site of the explosion. The fact that Wil Gaidin had a similar piece of jewelry was suspicious. Coupled with Satrim’s glimpse of the group leaving the firework terrace just before the explosion indicated Leora was looking for a group of saboteurs, not just an individual.
Before long she was in front of the door to her rooms. After nearly being caught sneaking in an Aes Sedai’s room, Leora felt a rest was in order to calm her nerves.
She turned the door handle.
Leora threw herself onto the stone floor of the hallway, throwing up a wild shield of Air. Something thudded into the wooden door she had just been opening.
Ixialdor Lathanril, Gaidin of Val’Cueran, trotted up as Leora got back to her feet. His sword was drawn.
“I saw the trigger from down the hall.” He explained, but his eyes scanned the stone hallway as if waiting for another attack. “At first I thought it was a prank…”
Leora finally saw what Ixialdor Gaidin was talking about. A small crossbow was mounted to the wall opposite her dormitory door. Buried in the wood of the door, a matching steel-tipped bolt shone. Leora felt her skin grow cold.
She suddenly felt stupid. She had been going around asking everyone she could about the pendent. News must have gotten back to the group of saboteurs that she had found it. They had decided Leora was too close to some secret, and thought to remove her.
“Are you alright?” Ixialdor Gaidin asked.
Leora just nodded.
The Gaidin sheathed his sword, “I think I should take you to Padron.”
Leora opened her mouth to protest, but the crossbow bolt at the height of her head made her close it again. She followed the Gaidin down the hallway.
“This was the precise thing I was concerned about, Mother.”
The Master of Accepted and Soldiers paced the floor of the Amyrlin’s study. Leora couldn’t see him directly from where she was sitting, but she could feel him moving back and forth.
“If Ixialdor had not been in that hallway looking for Elanda Tonil, Leora would be dead.”
The Amyrlin’s face was just as serene as it had been the night of the sabotage. She studied Leora with a cool gaze, along with the pendent and strip of cloth laid on the desk. The cloth still had a faint odor of rotten eggs.
Leora had told all of her findings and misadventures since leaving the Amyrlin’s study the evening before. Light! Had it only been the last night? The Amyrlin’s eyebrow arched when Leora described investigating Cahalan Sedai’s rooms, and Padron had grunted at mention of Wil Gaidin.
Now, Rhed al’Tere spoke. “How did the would-be assassin place the crossbow? How did he, or she, know that Leora would be coming back to her room first? The bolt could have easily hit Chaelca Trevalyn or Sailea Nerid.”
“I don’t know.” Padron grunted. “Frankly Mother, I don’t care. An Accepted was nearly killed after investigating a sabotage. I won’t have something like this happening again.”
Leora thought about chiming in, but the cool serenity of the Amyrlin’s face and the tone in Padron Gaidin’s voice kept her mouth shut.
There was a knock at the door, and at a word from the Amyrlin Padron Gaidin moved to open it. Syera Faelron poked her head through the opening.
“Excuse me Mother, but…” Syera was pale, her eyes wide. “They’ve found Elanda Tonil.”
Luna Morn had already Healed Elanda when the Amyrlin, Leora, and the Master of Accepted and Soldiers arrived. They were in a side garden, near a disused shed. While the Accepted seemed healed of any physical wounds, she was still trembling.
Inanna Sedai helped lead Elanda away from the crowd of people steadily growing outside of the shed. Kyla Sterling approached the Amyrlin.
“Mother.” She nodded, “It seems the Accepted Elanda was imprisoned in this shed for several days. A gardener found her when he went to look for a specialty tool.”
Kyla Sedai’s eyes flickered towards Leora before focusing once more on the Amyrlin. “She was unable to answer many questions Mother. I’m afraid I will have to talk to her again once the Yellows have time to calm her down.”
“I saw her last night,” Leora said. She gulped as the eyes of several Aes Sedai and Gaidin turned to her. “I saw her leaving the terrace, while people were investigating the explosions.”
A frown pulled at Kyla’s lips before turning back to the Amyrlin. “Others have confirmed that they saw Elanda during this period.”
“Someone has been posing as an Accepted.” The Amyrlin murmured.
“A disguise of the Power?” Padron asked.
“Possibly,” Kyla Sedai nodded. “I will continue to investigate this Mother. I already have several agents looking into some suspects.”
Leora thought about the forced exchange between Morgana Sedai and Samarasin. Could Kyla suspect the Red Sister? Suddenly Leora spotted Kitan Sedai across the garden, and slipped away from the conversation to approach her.
“Aes Sedai,” Leora said, getting Kitan’s attention. “Would you look at this for a moment?”
As she drew closer, Leora checked around her to make sure no one else was watching. The crowd of people was dissipating as Elanda was escorted back into the Tower.
Leora produced the silver pendent. She had just had time to pick it back up from the Amyrlin’s desk before rushing out of the room. “Do you recognize this language?”
Kitan Sedai took the triangular pendent in her hands, studying the inscription.
“It’s an obscure dialect of the Old Tongue.” Kitan nodded, as if confirming to herself. “The script is strange, though I think it says ‘Ehle an dar.’ I can’t make out the lower words without a magnifier. If you like, I could consult my notes to give you an exact translation of the top line.”
Leora shook her head. “Thank you Aes Sedai, but I think that’s all I need.”
Leora knocked on the pale wooden door. She was in the city of Tar Valon, in the housing district where many of the citizens lived.
Nebka Galen opened the door a crack, peering out at the Accepted. “May I help you?”
“I would like to ask you a few questions Nebka.”
The Citizen stiffened when she noticed Leora’s banded Accepted dress. She tried to close the door while murmuring excuses.
Leora Channeled a block of Air into the narrowing track.
“Please,” The Accepted said. “Just a few questions.”
Nebka blinked, avoiding Leora’s gaze. “Come in.”
Leora entered the small apartment. Nebka had come, like many others, to take up residence in the city of Tar Valon. Some decided to take rooms while waiting to apply to the Tower, others decided to remain in the city.
“Were you sent by the Illuminators to collect some extra-long fuses last night?” Leora asked.
Nebka opened her mouth, then closed it again. Finally she seemed to collect her thoughts. “No…Those people…They threatened my family. They said if I told anyone they would die.”
“The Tower will protect you and your family,” Leora assured her. “Who asked you?”
Nebka had not actually seen any of the saboteurs. They had contacted her through a note, threatening harm upon her family if she did not incorporate herself into the Illuminator group. Nebka had provided the saboteurs with the technical assistance against her will.
“Do you still have the note?” Leora asked.
Nebka shook her head. “The instructions said to burn it.”
Leora frowned. She pulled the silver pendent from her pouch. “Is this familiar at all?”
Nebka nodded, “It is similar to a sigil at the bottom of the note.” Nebka watched as Leora fiddled with the chain.
“Will you help me?” Leora asked, when she had made the chain into a full loop again.
She stood up, placing the pendent around her own neck.
“I think I know how they slipped under our noses.” Leora murmured. She touched the pendent with a thread of spirit.
Nebka gasped. Leora smiled. She turned to a small mirror on the wall. Elanda Tonil’s face looked back at her. Ehle an dar sounded like Elanda.
The saboteurs had ter’angreal.
Thanks for reading the fourth episode! Episode 5 will appear in next month's issue.