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"Are you certain about this?" Androl asked softly.

"Too late now, regardless", Pevara replied, tying off the weaves of Air.

The accounts seem to agree. The more dedicated a person was to the Light before being taken, the more dedicated they 11 be to the Shadow after falling. And so . . "

And so this man, who had always been rather lukewarm, should be easier to break, bribe or convert than others. That was important, as Taim’s lackeys would likely realize what had happened as soon as—

"Dobser?" a voice asked. Two figures darkened the doorway. "Do you have the wine? No need to watch the front; the woman isn’t—"

Welyn and another of Taim’s favored, Leems, stood in the doorway.

Pevara reacted immediately, throwing weaves at the two men while forming a thread of Spirit. They rebuffed her attempts at shielding them—it was tough to get a shield between the Source and a person holding the One Power—but her gags snapped into place, stopping their yells.

She felt Air wrapping around her, a shield trying to come between her and the Source. She lashed out with Spirit, slicing down the weaves by guessing where they would be.

Leems stumbled back, looking surprised as his weaves vanished. Pevara threw herself forward, weaving another shield and smashing it between him and the Source as she slammed her body into him, throwing him back against the wall. The distraction worked, and her shield cut him off from the One Power.

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She flung a second shield at Welyn, but he hit her with his own threads of Air. They hurled her backward across the room. She wove Air as she crashed into the wall, grunting. Her vision swam, but she kept hold of that single thread of Air and by instinct, sweeping it forward, grabbed Welyn’s foot as he tried to run out of the building.

She felt the ground tremble from someone falling. He’d tripped, hadn't he? Dizzy, she couldn’t see straight.

She sat up, aching all over, but clung to the threads of Air she’d woven as gags. Let those go, and Taim’s men would be able to scream. If they did that, she died. They all died. Or worse.

She blinked the tears of pain from her eyes to find Androl standing over the two Asha’man, cudgel in his hand. He’d knocked them both out, it appeared, not trusting in shields he couldn’t see. Good thing, too, as her second shield hadn’t gotten into place. She set it now.

Dobser still hung where she’d put him, his eyes wider now. Androl looked at Pevara. "Light!" he said. "Pevara, that was incredible. You brought down two Asha’man, practically by yourself!"

She smiled in satisfaction and woozily took Androl’s hand, letting him help her to her feet. "What did you think the Red Ajah does with its time, Androl? Sit around and complain about men? We train to fight other channeled".

She felt Androl’s respect as he busied himself, pulling Welyn into the building and shutting the door, then checking at the windows to make certain they hadn’t been seen. He drew the shades quickly, then channeled to make a light.

Pevara took a breath, then raised a hand and steadied herself against the wall.

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Androl looked up sharply. "We need to take you to one of the others for Healing".

"I’ll be fine", she said. "Just took a thump to the head and it has the room shaking. It will wear off".

"Let me see", Androl said, walking over—his light hovering beside him. Pevara allowed him to putter about for a moment, checking her eyes, feeling her head for lumps. He moved his light closer to her eyes. "Does it hurt to look at this?"

"Yes", she admitted, glancing away.

"Nausea?"

"Slight".

He grunted, then took a handkerchief out of his pocket and poured some water on it from his flask. He adopted a look of concentration, and his light winked out. The handkerchief crackled softly, and when he handed it to her, it was frozen. "Hold this to the wound", he said. "Tell me if you start to feel drowsy. It could grow worse if you fall asleep".

"Are you worried for me?" she asked, amused, doing as he said.

"Just . . . what was it you told me earlier? Keeping watch over our assets?

I’m sure", she said, pressing the iced bandanna to her head. "So you know field medicine as well?"

"I apprenticed with a town’s Wise Woman once", he said absently as he knelt to bind the fallen men. Pevara was glad to release the weaves of Air on them, though she did keep the shields up.

"A Wise Woman took on a male apprentice?"

"Not at first", Androl said. "It’s . . . a long story".

"Excellent; a long story will keep me from falling asleep until the others come for us". Emarin and the others had been instructed to go and be seen, establishing an alibi for the group, in case Dobser’s disappearance was noted.

Androl eyed her, replacing his light. Then he shrugged, continuing his work. "It started when I lost a friend to the fevers during a silverpike run out of Mayene. When I came back to the mainland, I started thinking that we could have saved Sayer if any of us had known what to do. So I went looking for someone who could teach me . . "

CHAPTER 4

Advantages to a Bond

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"And that was the end of it", Pevara said, sitting against the wall.

Androl could feel her emotions. They sat in the storeroom where they’d fought Taim’s men, waiting for Emarin—who claimed he could make Dobser talk. Androl himself had little skill in interrogation. The scent of grain had changed to a rancid stench. It spoiled suddenly, sometimes.

Pevara had grown quiet, both outside and in, as she’d spoken of the murder of her family by longtime friends.

"I still hate them", she said. "I can think about my family without pain, but the Darkfriends . . . I hate them. At least I have some vengeance, as the Dark One certainly didn’t defend them. They spent all their lives following him, hoping for a place in his new world, only to have the Last Battle come long after their deaths. I suppose the ones living now won’t be any better off. Once we win the Last Battle, he will have their souls. I hope their punishment is lengthy".

"You’re so certain we will win?" Androl asked.

"Of course we will win. It’s not a question, Androl. We can’t afford to make it one".

He nodded. "You’re right. Continue".

"There’s no more to say. Odd, to tell the story after all these years. For a long while, I couldn&r

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