Threads of Silver

Chapter 4: Windfinder

Faia din Corran Ocean Storm shivered in the cold night air, silently cursing Morya, all sul’dam, and her own stupidity. If only she had not volunteered for this voyage, she could have been sleeping safely in her own bunk, rocked to sleep by the movement of the waves. Not out here, freezing to death, with this Light-burned collar locked around her neck!
Damane may not strike at their sul’dam,” Morya had said. “You will spend a night out here, I think. Perhaps the cold will teach you obedience.”
The Light burn her! The Light burn all Seanchan!
I am a Windfinder, Faia told herself silently. I am the Windfinder of Seaskimmer, of clan Shodein, daughter to Seara the Sailmistress. I am not damane!
But all the oaths and all the wishes in the world would not take this collar off her...
Her head jerked up as the door opened and two women came out. Faia shivered again, and not with the cold, as she recognised Morya’s fur-lined cloak. But that was not Morya, surely - the height was right, but this woman was slender where Morya was stocky, and her loose hair reached well past her shoulders. The other woman, the one closing the door, was smaller, wrapped likewise in a warm cloak. Neither wore the blue dress of a sul’dam.
A flame appeared in the air beside the taller woman, and by its light Faia got a glimpse of her face. She swallowed a gasp. That was Tanya, damane like her. Where was her a’dam? How had she gotten free?
Although she had made no sound, Tanya whirled around, staring straight at her. The other followed her gaze, dark eyes widening. Faia knew her, too. Leanna, one of the youngest sul’dam. But she had never seen the two women together, never noticed the similarity in their features and colouring - until now.
“You’re sisters!” she exclaimed.
“Hush!” Tanya hissed. She glanced around swiftly. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Faia saw the glow of saidar around her; Tanya could surely see her a’dam, but was taking no chances that Faia might call for help. She had no intention of it. “I am Faia din Corran Ocean Storm, Windfinder of Seaskimmer. I - ”
“Atha’an Miere,” Leanna broke in. She stepped toward Faia, watching her intently. “You are of the Sea Folk? From the ship in the harbour?”
“I am.”
The tension went out of Leanna. She turned to her sister. “The ship, Tanya. If she comes with us, we can take passage on their ship. We won’t need to bribe a captain.”
“That’s crazy!” Faia protested. Both sisters glared, and she lowered her voice. “The ship will be guarded. Three or four damane, at the least. We can’t - ”
“I can shield them all,” Tanya said calmly. Faia blinked. Tanya was that strong? “If your ship is as fast as they say, we can get away easily. Is it?”
“Probably faster,” Faia muttered. Three or four? Light! “Can you get this thing off me?”
“I will.” Leanna reached up to work on the collar. “Tanya, find her a spare cloak.” The woman disappeared inside.
The a’dam snapped open, and Leanna dropped it into her pouch. “Thank you,” Faia told her, rubbing her neck. “Thank you,” she repeated, as Tanya reappeared with a third fur-lined cloak.
“Wrap it around to hide your dress,” Tanya advised. She pulled her own cloak tighter around herself. “Are you ready?”
Without looking back, they started down the street.

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