10 Years Previous
“Will I ever get to go home?” Arya, 17, looked down into the child’s face, ‘at least he’s speaking again,’ “Maybe someday, Rand.” The six-year-old wasn’t about to let her off that easily, “You don’t think so, do you?” Light, but he looked so helpless, so scared. ‘At least he won’t suffer for long.’ That was a dreadful thought, and she knew it, but no man survived being gentled for long. ‘If only I could find something he likes to do, something to take the place of the power.’ “Rand, what do you like to do, for fun?” After a moment, Rand hadn’t answered, but she wasn’t about to give up what little progress she had, “Do you like plants?” There! A nod, albeit hesitant, “would you like to see the gardens?” another nod, more certain now. Arya drew Rand along beside her and walked him to the garden, determined to head to each and every place of interest in the Tower until she found something Rand liked, since one stop probably wouldn’t do it. “Here they are,” she waited, hoping for some sign of interest from him, “you can take one if you like.” His hand tentatively reached out and grasped at a tulip, picking it. He held it out to her, presumably for inspection, so she decided to humor him and took it, “It’s a very nice flower, Rand, but you should keep it. Here you- Did you prick your hand on the roses?” Sure enough, there was a small cut on the back of his hand, “let me see your hand, I’ll heal it for you.” Rand held his hand out to her, looking downcast the entire time. ‘Not flowers then. Alright, some water, spirit, air, twine around the wound and- what in creation?!’ Somehow, the weave of healing had been absorbed into Rand, but not with the intended results. In fact, it seemed to have no effect at all.
Rand looked around the Heart of Stone. He had to look into how those portals were made. They could prove to be incredibly useful. Now all he had to do was find his way to the basement, or did he? He had told Lanfear that he needed to see if he was the Dragon Reborn, and instead of sending him to the twisted doorway, she sent him to Callandor. It was said, “The Stone of Tear will never fall, till Callandor is wielded by the Dragon’s hand.” If he took Callandor, wouldn’t that make him the Dragon? ‘I’d better not risk it. There is a plan for a reason, and besides, I can’t even touch the Source.’ With that though, Rand began making his way to the main passageway of the Stone. Unfortunately, no sooner did he entered the hall than he found himself staring at fifteen armed guards, arrayed with their backs to the doorway to the Heart. Suddenly, Callandor began looking a whole lot better. Rand ducked back through the doorway before he was seen and approached the Callandor. As he neared the sword, Saidar began to leech off the wards, as expected. So did Saidin. The rush of power was nothing, easily subjugated under the Void. The taint, on the other hand, Rand could never have been prepared for. Like refuse swimming through his veins; like rotting death embracing him. Rand’s hand found the sword in his torment, and all hell broke loose. In the halls, the sound of fighting could be heard as Rand struggled to control the Taint. Just when Rand had managed to stand, a man entered the room. Somehow, Rand knew without a doubt that the Betrayer of Hope had arrived.
Ishamael entered the room, eyes blazing, with an army of trollocs at his heels. He looked to Rand, who immediately felt more Saidin entering him. Imagine Ishamael’s surprise when instead of having his head severed, his opponent began to vomit. Rand looked to the Forsaken and decided that he needed to rid himself of Saidin, soon. A voice whispered to him from far away, telling him patterns of weaves he had never heard mention of: Fire, Earth; Earth, Air, Fire; Fire, Air. As Rand followed the unknown instructor, the room erupted in plasmic blasts. Pillars of flame reached the ceiling, lightning crackled into walls. Needles of flame shot from Rand’s fingertips as he poured everything he could into the plasma, hoping to rid himself of the tainted power. When the fires died, and the flashes stopped, only Rand and a badly burned Ishamael remained. THWACK! Rand felt a club of air impact his head, sending him sprawling. The forsaken advanced on him, “Did you really think Saidin was all I had, Lews Therin? Stupid of you to release it. Try to grab Saidin again and I’ll kill you before you can channel.” One of Arya’s lessons returned to Rand: Men couldn’t sense women channel. Rand prayed that this lack of sensation was due to the powers, not genders, before channeling a stream of Saidar-woven balefire into the Betrayer of hope. Contrary to most heroic plans, Ishamael dodged the attack, but was caught off-guard enough that Rand was able to tackle him to the ground. The battle began anew, not as another clash of titans, but resembling a child’s wrestling match. Lews Therin Telamon’s reincarnation and the Forsaken that was once Elan Morin Tedronai rolled across the floor, attempting to throttle one another. While Rand was, without a doubt, physically superior, Ishamael had the True Power backing him, adding force to his every swing. Rand had gotten himself into a fight he couldn’t win, however, and before long he was propelled into a wall by a blast of the True Power. Ishamael scooped up Callandor and approached Rand, intent upon using the Crystal sword at its most basic function. Then he died. Rand’s mind, in his stupor, had wandered to his previous discussion with Lanfear. At the time, he had wondered if she had been telling the truth, about water saturating the blood and causing the ‘vessels?’ to rupture. In Rand’s dazed state, he had wondered, and tried it. Rand struggled to his feet and used the rest of his Saidar to form a final bar of Balefire and directed it at Ishamael’s body.
Rand was tired, so tired. After the Tariens had found him holding Callandor in the ruined Heart of Stone, he had found a completely new use for the Void, holding back the want to kill somebody. The High Lords had gone on for hours about what he had no inkling of. Could anyone blame him? Rand had just been in a fight with a forsaken. Thankfully, Moiraine had arrived soon after he had sent for her, and his interrogation was soon to begin. The door to the chamber Rand had commandeered burst open and Moiraine rushed in, followed by Lan. Rand sighed, there were going to be a lot of questions.