Threads of Silver

Chapter 3: Escape

“At the seventh stroke of the clock...”
The sixth stroke pealed out, and Tanya jumped despite herself. Six! Only two more minutes. Only two more and she would be free.
And then - To the harbour, and a ship that would take their money without asking questions, and a port on the other continent, and - who knew where then? To one of the countries her sister spoke of - Saldaea, or Mayene, or Andor - or even, as Leanna urged, Tar Valon, island of the feared Aes Sedai.
Wherever - freedom.
Tanya heard a faint footstep outside the door just as the seventh stroke echoed. In a moment, the handle was turned and Leanna, her dark eyes sparkling, hurried into the room.
“Look!” she exclaimed, then lowered her voice. “They were all asleep, so I went into Dara’s room, and look what I found. Maps!” She tossed her bundle to the floor. “A map of the whole continent, and a smaller one showing the main ports and cities. Dara’s notes are on the back, too. We can go just about anywhere, but we have to avoid this place Amadicia. They have laws against channelling.”
Tanya sat up on her mattress as Leanna continued. “Tear is dangerous, too, but most of the other countries are safe. And I took money from the chests. We have enough to bribe a captain, and to pay our way across the continent too, if we’re careful. We’re free, Tanya! Free! Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Wonderful,” Tanya told her, laughing and crying at the same time. “Now, if you could just take this off me - "
Leanna knelt by her, fumbling with the silver collar at her neck. “How does it come off?”
“I don’t know. The catch is at the side, but I can’t unfasten it,” Tanya said. “Maybe it opens the same way as the bracelet.”
Leanna tried. “Yes, I think that’s it. There...” The collar snapped open.
Tanya lifted her hands to her throat, hardly able to believe it was gone. She felt tears running down her face. Thirteen years! Thirteen years leashed, and now she was free. There would be no more cages.
“So,” Leanna said, “are we leaving or what?”
“Oh, we’re leaving.” The tears were gone. Forever! “Did you bring clothes?” She could not wear the gray dress out on the streets.
“In the bundle,” Leanna said. She was wearing a plain black tunic and trousers. Her hair, brushed and loose, shone like a dark halo around her head. “I bought them on my day off, but I couldn’t find a cloak your size. Take Morya’s: it should fit you.”
“Irony is a beautiful thing,” Tanya murmured, smiling. Morya was one of the crueler sul’dam: Tanya would take her cloak with pleasure. She took out an outfit similar to Leanna’s and started changing.
“Isn’t it just?” Leanna’s eyes danced, and once again Tanya felt she was looking into a mirror. She pulled the tunic over her head.
“What’s more,” Leanna continued, smiling slyly, “I took most of the gold from Morya’s purse, too, and replaced it with stones. So you can thank her for our passage.”
Tanya choked down laughter, pulling trousers and boots on. “Irony indeed!” She laced up the soft boots and unbraided her hair, brushing it out like Leanna’s. It reached nearly to her waist. “Shall we go?”
“Why don’t we?” Leanna picked up her bundle, tossed her dark hair back and left.
Tanya followed her sister out the door, but looked back a moment before closing it. The a’dam lay on the floor, glittering silver in the faint moonlight. That collar, and its matching bracelet, had been her cage for thirteen long years.
Tanya closed the door.

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