Disclaimer : I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Wheel of Time they are both copyrighted by their creators and I make no money from this fanfiction.
"Great job Summers," Dawn grumbled under her breath as she moved through the trees. "Not only did you get separated from the others with No weapon, your also completely lost. . . . And talking about yourself in the second person. Freaking fantastic."
Moving silently through the trees Dawn froze suddenly. Was that the wind or was something out there? Straining her eyes to try and make out anything in the moonlight she shifted her grip on the big rock she was holding. It was the closest thing she had to a weapon at the moment, and even though she knew there was no way it would do much damage to one of those demons she couldn't bring herself to get rid of it. She wondered what Angel would say if he could see her like this, somehow she didn't think this was what he meant when he said never surrender your weapon.
Deciding that it was the wind she started forwards again, hoping she was going in the right direction. This would be so much easier with GPS she thought grumpily as she tried again to figure out her location relative to the old road. If she could at least make it to the road it would make things so much less complicated. It only went to two places, the farm and the village so there would be a fifty percent chance she would choose the right on. And even if she didn't it would be nothing to turn around and find the village.
With a sigh she continued on in the same direction, she certainly wasn't getting any closer by standing still. As she walked she tried not to think about Rand and Tam to much, there was nothing she could do for them right now, and letting herself get distracted by worry was definitely not of the good. Tam she wasn't too worried about but Rand, the most violent thing he had ever seen was when a wolf attacked one of the sheep last winter. She could still remember the look on his face when he saw the stark red spread out over the white snow. How would he be handling this?
Shaking her head again she tried to focus on the task at hand, it wouldn't do to walk around blindly. After all with her luck tonight she'd probably walk right into a demon cook pot. Or worse the cheese man from her dream the other night could show up. Honesty she had no idea where that had come from.
"I wear the cheese indeed." She muttered. (*1)
As she walked she looked for a likely tree to climb. She wasn't an accomplished climber, in fact she'd never climbed a tree in her life, but she was sure that if she could find a tall tree with enough branches on it even she could manage. After all how hard could it be? It's not like it would be moving, or built by crazy people. Besides she was a Summers she could totally do this and . . .
"Holy shit that's a huge tree." (*2)
'Right' she thought 'this is the one. I can so do this.' Before she could loose her nerve she set her rock down, she couldn't very well climb one handed could she? Then she moved towards the lowest limb which was about a head taller than her. She wasn't sure how long she stood and looked at it, it could have been seconds minutes or even hours but finally she gathered up the will to shift a little closer and lifted her hands to grasp the limb and heave herself up. As she started moving slowly up the tree she thought that this wasn't so bad, she'd be fine, it was actually kind of easy. And even a little bit fun, if you squinted. Really hard. Half way up she was cursing the temporary insanity that had her thinking this could have possibly been a good idea. Her arms and legs were sore from climbing and being so tense, and her hands were covered in little bloody scraps from the bark. And some people did this for fun? What the hell is wrong with them? When she finally reached the top she was almost blinded by the tears of fear and frustration in her eyes. Holding tightly to a limb she settled her feet and leaned against the giant trunk to rest for a moment and put herself together.
Once she felt mostly calm again, or as close as she could be up here at any rate, she stood straighter and took a deep breath and looked to see what she could see. The sun was just starting to rise which told her what direction east was, that was of the good at least. The sky had lightened enough that she could see around for miles, it would have been amazing if there had been more to see than this never ending ocean of huge, evil, stupid trees. Well that and the distant view of the mountains of Mist to the west, that was actually pretty neat.
Turning around she made to move around to the north side of this big ass tree, maybe she would see something that would tell her were she was. She did know some of the local land marks from when Tam or Rand would take her out hunting. Stepping carefully from one limb to another she reached up and grabbed a limb intending to use it to swing across the big gap between her current spot and the next limb. But when she pushed off the one she was holding gave a loud crack as it gave way under her full weight. As she started to fall she reached desperately to try and grab another limb any one to stop her fall but she couldn't get a good enough grip and all she managed to do was shred her already abused hands more. She couldn't help the scream that tore from her throat as she plummeted towards the ground, as she fell she barely had time to wonder if this was how Buffy had felt before her world was engulfed by a strange green light and consciousness fled.
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The sun felt warm on her face was her first thought, followed closely by god my head is killing me. She opened her eyes slowly to let them get used to the light flooding the room through the window. Wait. . . , window? This wasn't her room at the farm, where was she? And how did she get here, where ever here was. It wasn't until she tried to move with the intention to stand that her brain caught up to the fact that the rest of her body hurt too. Grunting she sat up and swung her legs off the bed.
"Oh fuck me," she groaned, "did anyone get the number of the bus that hit me?"
Standing slowly she stood still a moment to be sure her legs would support her before shuffling over to the window and looking out. She breathed a sigh of relief when she spotted the Green, she was in Emonds Field. She'd made it. . . But how? The last thing she remembered was falling out of that tree. She should be dead. She pinched her arm, and yeah that hurt so she couldn't be dead, or dreaming. Holding her hands up for closer inspection she noticed they had been bandaged, it looked like Nyneaves handy work. That made her smile slightly, they went round and round on her clothing (Nyneave doesn't approve of women in pants.) and they didn't agree on most other things. Even so Nyneave would not stand to see someone injured and not tend to their wound. Dawn respected her for that, even if she'd never said so.
She headed to the door with the intention of finding out if Tam and Rand had made it, and just when she was about to open the door it swung open to revel mistress Al'Vere with a tray full of food. Dawn felt her stomach rumble at the smell of fresh baked bread, she hadn't realized just how hungry she was until now. All of the sudden she felt like she hadn't eaten in days. She stepped back as mistress Al'Vere entered with a tired smile.
"I'm so glad your awake dear, we were all very concerned when we found you of course." Moving over to the nightstand she put the tray down, "it was the old Gleeman who found you unconscious behind our stables. He carried you in himself shouting and carrying on. Almost as if. . . Well that's not important. What is important is the wisdom fixed you up right quick and she says you'll be right as rain soon enough. So why don't you just sit and enjoy a good meal dear. It will help you regain your strength."
"Mistress Al'Vere have you seen Rand or Tam? We were separated last night."
"They're here, both of them. Rand came into town this morning pulling Tam on a cart behind him. Tam was injured last night, quite badly too, but the Aes Sedai was able to heal him. He'll be fine dear, just bed ridden for a few weeks while he gets back his strength. He is in one of our other rooms right now. You can see him after you've eaten, if he's awake."
Nodding Dawn sat down and reached for some of the bread. She really was hungry, and it did smell amazing. "What happened here last night Mistress Al'Vere?" Dawn asked as she brought a piece to her moth only to freeze. "Did you say Aes Sedai?"
"Yes I did, now you sit there and eat that food before it grows cold and I will tell you everything." Moving to sit in the only chair she waited for Dawn to start eating before she'd say anything more. "The Trollocs came late in the night, most people were already abed and some even slept through half the attack. They set fire to some of the houses and just when it seemed the whole village might be over run they came out of the inn and put themselves to the fight like something from a story. Him with his great sword flashing this way and that striking down everything in his path, and her throwing around balls of fire and calling down lightning from the sky. It was them that drove the monstrous beasts away. With out them things here would have been much worse of that I have no doubt. As it stands now . . ."
Dawn was no logger listening as mistress Al'Vere continued on, she was to busy thinking of the Aes Sedai. She had heard about them before, there were many stories about them, and most didn't paint them in the best light. She didn't know what to believe and what not to as she had never met one before, Aes Sedai apparently never came to the two rivers. Not that anyone around here seemed too upset by that fact. But from everything she had heard she knew that they were this worlds magic users. She wasn't sure if their magic was the same as from her world. She knew from her watcher studies with Wesley that not every worlds magic was compatible with another's. All she had been able to learn is that what they do is called 'channeling' which somehow gives them access to great power.
When she'd first arrived and heard about them she had hoped to meet one thinking maybe they would be able to send her home. That hope had kept her going that first year, kept her sane. Funny really how now that same thought brought dread. Somehow she knew that this was just the beginning of trouble, and while she didn't think for a second that the Aes Sedai had caused the trouble she also didn't doubt that this woman would be at the thick of it and she wondered who else would be pulled into it before all was said and done. Just when she thought everything was going well the world just had to go to hell around her.
". . . Dawn?"
Jerking her head back up to meet mistress Al'Veres gaze she felt her cheeks redden in embarrassment. She wasn't entirely sure what all she had missed. "I'm sorry what?"
Mistress Al'Vere just smiled as she stood. "It's alright dear, it has been a long day. I'm sure you'll feel better after you've checked with Tam and Rand. Perhaps then you'd be willing to nip down to the green to help out. There is still plenty to do after all."
Dawn nodded eagerly standing, she would feel better when she saw them with her own eyes. Heading out the door she barely slowed to thank mistress Al'Vere for directions to Tams room. Heading down the hall and up the stairs she was opening the door in no time, and what she saw made her smile. Tam was asleep on the bed looking only a little worse for the wear and Rand was passed out on a chair in the other side if the room with a clear view of the bed. Not wanting to wake them she slowly eased the door shut before turning to go see what she could do to help. There would be no shortage of work over the next few days.
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With a tired sigh Dawn set the pail of water down on the table, fetching water wasn't exactly tiresome work but the sun had set hours ago and she was tired. Knuckling her back she stretched to loosen the muscles, and while she was still trying to figure out what needed done next when Master Luhhan entered the kitchen. He and his wife were staying here with the Cognars for the time being as their house had been one of the ones to burn. Moving to the table he put down his own bundle before turning to face her.
"That's enough for tonight lass. You won't be doing any good tomorrow if your dead on your feet. Go and get some rest."
Dawn just nodded and headed for the inn as she stifled a yawn. Maybe after she checked in on Tam she could drag Rand down to the common room to get something to eat. She hadn't had a chance to talk to him today, and she wanted to make sure that he was really ok.
When she got to the inn she stopped by the common room only long enough to make sure that Rand wasn't already there before heading up the stairs toTams room. She wasn't sure what she was going to say to them yet, She hadn't had time to tell Rand that she was leaving and with what happened Tam might expect her to stay and help rebuild. And she did want to help them, she loved them and she owed them so much, but she couldn't stay. She didn't know why, couldn't even begin to explain it, but she knew that she had to go.
Shaking her head she took a deep breath and fastened a smile to her face before opening the door. Stepping inside she was surprised to see Rand wasn't there, but Tam was awake and sitting up so she closed the door behind her and moved the chair closer to the bed before sitting. Looking at Tam she noticed with relief that he looked fine physically just tired.
"I came to see you earlier but you and Rand were sleeping and I didn't want to wake you. Are you okay? How is Rand? Did he already turn in for the night?"
"I'm fine, even though they think I need to stay in this sick bed for a few weeks. Wee will have to see about that. Rand is fine to but he isn't here. He left earlier with Mat and Perrin. . ."
"What do you mean gone! Left to go where and why? With Mat and Perrin?"
"If you will let me speak without interruption I will explain everything." Tam said giving her 'the look'.
Blushing slightly she sat back a little further in her chair and nodded. Why was it every parent had that look? Some things were the same in any world it seemed.
"When Rand woke up he told me of the conversation he'd had with the Aes Sedai who healed me. Her theories on why the trollocs attacked centers around those three boys. She isn't sure why they wanted them, or even which one they wanted, but we both believed she was right. If they had stayed the attacks might have continued. The only way for them to be safe is to go with her to Tar Valon. I would have gone with them but I'm not up to the journey just yet, when I'm well enough I plan to meet them there. Rand was supposed to find you and tell you about everything, I thought you might join him, but if he never came to find you they might have run out of time and left before he had the chance."
"Alright, let me see if I've got this right. For some completely unknown reason the devil wants one of those three, or possibly all of them, so he sent a legion of twisted demons to either kill or capture them. That left us with only one way to keep them safe, which was to send them with some Aes Sedia, whom we know nothing about, out into the big wide world to travel hundreds of miles with said Aes Sedia to her people's stronghold. They are to remain at said stronghold for an undetermined amount of time, until the reason for the threat is identified and eliminated at which time they will most likely be allowed to come home. That is assuming that they make it to Tar Valon in one piece in the first place, all with no one who can be completely trusted to lookout for them and watch their backs?"
"That's the right of it, yes."
Looking down at her entwined hands she bit her lip as thoughts whipped through her mind faster than the speed of light, looking back up to meet his eyes she hesitated, "I. . .," swallowing thickly she sat up straiter and squared her shoulders. "If I make its of the preparations tonight I can leave with the first light. They won't have gotten to far in the darkness, I should be.... no, I will be able to catch up with them before they get to Baerlon. Then I can travel with them north to look out for their best interests, I'll be able to help make sure they get to Tar Valon safely. Rand won't be alone in this, that is the least I can do after all you have given me."
Tam stared at her silently for several minutes, looking like he was about to say something several times before he seemed to settle on what he wanted to say. "That might be for the best, at this time. And in a few weeks time I'll be we'll enough to travel, I'll head out after you to meet everyone at Tar Valon. Try not to garner attention as you gather your supplies tonight. There are those here who would try to stop you for your own good if they were to find out."
"I know, and trust me I can be very sneaky when the occasion calls for it. I'd best get started." Standing she gestured to his dinner plate which still had some cheese on it, "Would you like me to take that back down to the kitchen on my way or were you planning on eating it?"
He shook his head looking bemused "Go ahead and take it, I couldn't bring myself to eat it after the strange fever dream I had."
"There was a man, he was not dressed in any fashion that I am familiar with, but he was standing in a great room filled with mountains of cheese. And when I entered the room he greeted me and offered a tray of cheese slices, he asked me if I wanted to join him and partake in the great cheese, and as I tried to leave the room he shouted after me that the greatness of the cheese would not be denied. It was the strangest fever dream I've ever had."
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(*1) I couldn't help myself with this, I was watching some old re-runs and I thought the cheese man was hilarious. I especially loved Giles response to him. "Honestly I meet the most appalling sort of people." This was taken from the episode 'Restless' season 4 episode 22.
(*2) for these trees I was thinking of something along the lines of a California Redwood (sequoia sempervirens). They are the worlds tallest trees, and can grow up to 427 feet. in other words they are crazy tall freaking trees.