Other Side of the Wheel
Chapter Two: Awakenings
The words drifted through his mind.
The Dragon. Wake.
He had slept... How long? A long time, he thought somehow. But not an ordinary sleep. There had been something about it - Something -
The voice - a familiar voice - was speaking to him. Chosen - he was Chosen - but he was called something else as well. A name. He had a name - Not that. He shied away from the first that floated to the top of his mind. Another name - people had called him -
Yes. That was it. He was Daimon, and he was here because -
WAKE, CHOSEN. THE DRAGON IS REBORN!
Memory came crashing down on him. Daimon sank to his knees, and was only dimly aware of others doing likewise. The voice thundered in his head, leaving no room for thought.
YOU HAVE SLEPT LONG, CHOSEN. THE DRAGON HAS DIED AND BEEN BORN INTO A NEW LIFE. BUT THE SEALS HAVE WEAKENED ENOUGH TO LET YOU ENTER THE WORLD AGAIN. YOU WILL FIND HER FOR ME, CHOSEN, AND REMIND THIS AGE OF THE SHADOW'S MIGHT.
The force of the Great Lord's presence lessened, and Daimon could think again. Questions swirled through his mind, but he remained silent. There was much to be asked, beginning with how long - had another Age been implied? but he would let others ask it for him.
His fellow Chosen seemed no more eager, glancing at each other, but it was Lagime who spoke finally, holding her voice steady despite the shiver that ran through her body. " Great Lord, how long have we slept?"
IN MORTAL TERMS - NOT QUITE THREE THOUSAND YEARS.
"What?" Daimon recognised Sharsande's voice behind him, high with anger and dismay. "How can - "
Not even Sharsande was fool enough to disobey that voice. She fell silent.
The others too kept quiet, although more than Sharsande must have felt dismay. Three thousand years! How far had the world changed in that time? Were the Chosen even remembered? And the Dragon - reborn into a new life?
Lagime broke the silence again, her thoughts clearly running along the same lines as his. "Great Lord, where is Amera Sune now?" Her voice shook slightly over the name, with what emotion Daimon could not guess. "And who?"
Above the fire of the Pit, an image took shape. A woman, tall and slender - that was the same - but pale, with hair the colour of copper that blew in an illusionary wind. The image turned slowly, and Daimon caught his breath. Not a woman, a girl. Her face showed her little more than sixteen, grey-green eyes wide and wary. A girl - Could she even have touched the Power yet?
SHE KNOWS NOTHING, the Great Lord's voice echoed his thought. NEITHER OF THE POWER OR HERSELF. THAT WILL NOT, HOWEVER, LAST LONG. AS TO WHERE - THERE IS AN ISLAND NAMED TAR VALON, HOME TO THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES AES SEDAI IN THIS AGE. SEEK HER NEAR THERE.
So there still were Aes Sedai - if diminished. But his eyes remained on the illusion that hovered over the Pit, still turning like a windvane in the breeze. He found it amusing. Let the Dragon dance to the Shadow's tune.
A girl. A child. She would be easy to take.
ENOUGH QUESTIONS, CHOSEN. GO NOW. THE WORLD AWAITS YOU. There was a hint of amusement in that giant voice.
Daimon rose with the others, moving swiftly to the tunnel that led from the Bore. No one would have dared to leave before that command, but once commanded, no one tarried. He bent his head automatically beneath the low roof, emerging on the side of the mountain, and turned to exchange looks with the other twelve.
He frowned. The other - ten.
"Where are they?" Sharsande demanded. Her red lips twisted into a snarl. "Why are they not with us?"
"They were farthest away when the Dragon attacked," Maraan murmured. "It seems they escaped."
"Then they're dead," Daimon said flatly. No one lived that long. Some of the Chosen nodded in agreement, but others looked thoughtful.
The gnomish man shrugged. "Perhaps. Who knows what the Great Lord may do?" He glanced significantly back through the tunnel. "We would not so soon underestimate his abilities."
Daimon dismissed the comment. They were surely dead. He considered the other Chosen standing with him, assessing them as competition. Most were fools, although Maraan, plotter that he was, might be a danger. His eyes landed on Temad, and at his side, Conde. Those two - Alone they were nothing, but they had always worked together. If they reinstated their alliance, they were trouble.
As if reading his thought, Conde smiled. "Little is accomplished by standing around," she said pleasantly. "You will excuse us." He felt the tingle of saidar, and a gateway opened before her. To the World of Dreams, he saw from the shimmer. Still smiling, Conde stepped through. With Temad behind her.
Daimon cursed under his breath as the gateway closed. They were still allied.
But then - He recalled the red-haired girl. Just a child. It would not be difficult to capture her, and he knew where to look. Conde was cautious. She would rein Temad in, and in that hesitation Daimon would take the prize.
He smiled himself. The other Chosen might call him fool, but there was something to be said for action. When he brought the Dragon helpless to the Pit of Doom, the Great Lord would be more than pleased. Even they would have to bow to him then.
He would find the Dragon. And then they would see.