Eye Color: Blue-Green
Hair Color: Chestnut Brown
Weight: 125 lbs
Place of Origin: Andor
Cadwyn awoke in an unfamiliar bed, in a room that was not his. He got out of the bed slowly, his muscles feeling heavy as if he hadn’t used them in some time. A stone ceiling rather than that of a wooden deck, floors covered in carpets. The room’s furnishings were well crafted and kept, and would not be unfit in a merchant’s home.
The room was lit by a small candle which sat on a small desk and a window overlooking a yard of some sort, sat above that. A bedside table was on the opposite side of the bed, nestled between it and a wardrobe. Across the room from him was a large stand mirror and a pale, almost unrecognizable, reflection of himself stood staring back at him. It took him a moment to notice he was nude, and the sudden realization sent a shiver through him, as though it suddenly made him aware of the cool room.
He couldn’t quite how he got there. His memory was fragmented, as if there were hours and days missing. Keeping a hand on the bed to balance himself, he moved slowly around the bed to the wardrobe and opened it to find his clothes. All of them. They should be packed away in his chest on the River Mist. He frowned as he pulled on his small clothes, trying to remember how he got to wherever he was.
The wind blew into Cadwyn’s face, blowing back strands of his dark brown hair, as River Mist crawled along the Erinin. He loved few things as much as sailing, and in the past few years had little opportunity to go out with his father as he made his way to Aringill ferrying goods back and forth between the southlands and the Borderlands. He and his mother had spent the last several years living in Shienar, where his father, Deryk, had been able to procure a large house relatively cheaply, but for the last year his mother had been eager to return to her homeland in Andor, and so his father set about purchasing a new house there between his trips north and south.
“Son! Tell your mother we’re about to dock go tell your mother.”
Glancing ahead at the growing town, he smiled. He landed at Colburne before, the people were friendly. They were a week or so upriver from Tar Valon, supposing they made good time. “Yes father!” He shouted in response, as he swung down the short ladder onto the deck.
It didn’t take long for his father and his men to finish tying the lines to the small dock, but oddly no one came down to greet them. His mother, Amellia, had slipped into the town to see what was happening, stating she was of no use on the deck, so she might as well make herself useful. He smiled as he leapt onto the dock, glancing at the men having broken out their pipes now that his mother was gone and began walking toward the town.
He frowned as he got closer to the town, noticing boarded up windows and doors. As he walked through the empty streets a scream echoed from what he remembered as the local inn. Running toward it, through the open door he saw his mother standing in the common room with an expression of shock on her face. A thick scent filled the air as he got to the door, one that brought back memories of travelling through a northern Sheinaran village, that didn’t survive a raid. The smell of death filled the tavern.
On the floor several bodies lay decaying, skin deathly pale and drawn tight. Their skin blackened around the ends of their fingers and noses, and black sores covered the skin that wasn’t covered by clothes. Pulling his shirt up over his nose, to keep away the smell, he grabbed his mother’s arm and pulled her out. She swayed on her feet and he caught and steadied her quickly. Behind them heavy footsteps against the dirt path, announcing the arrival of his Father and several of the boats crewmen panting from the exertion.
His skin felt like it was on fire. Was it? He tried to open his eyes but there was nothing but blackness around him. His head hurt badly. He never thought that he could be in as much pain as this.
The door to his room crashed against the wall and a set of quick foot steps walked briskly across the floor, with another heavier set following like a shadow. He felt the slow breathing of another person across his face, has his eyelids were pulled back and a bright light shone into each of them.
“Well, Aes Sedai? Can you help him?” A familiar voice asked thick with desperation. His father? But his father never sounded desperate. The well-to-do river merchant was always a pillar of confidence. “I-I can’t lose him t-”
A tongue clucked like a hen, and a woman’s melodious voice interrupted the man. “The problem is anything I did may well kill him anyways. Do you still want me to do this?”
A moment passed before hands gripped either side of his head, and he let out a wheezing gasp as his body contorted and stretched, feeling a rush of cold sweep over his body, a bright light enveloping him inside his closed eyes.
As he finished pulling up his breeches, the door opened silently to admit a short woman, with shoulder length brown hair, and dark eyes. At first, he thought she must be young, because of her smooth face but her eyes seemed too bright, as if they’d seen many years. An Aes Sedai.
She looked him over thoughtfully for a moment, watching his eyes watch her, before carefully studying his body from every angle, occasionally poking him as if looking for a reaction. With a sniff, she sat down gracefully on the bed, and motioned for him to sit beside her.
“Do you know what I am?” She asked softly, waiting for his slow nod before continuing. “You may call me Marlein. What do you remember before waking up in this bed?”
He quietly spoke to her about the fragments he remembered. She studied him again when he was finished, making him feel uncomfortable. It reminded him of a blacksmith looking at a bar of metal to be crafted into a tool.
“Excuse me Aes Sedai, can you tell me where I am?”
“You are in Tar Valon. According to your father you were unconscious for most of the trip downriver. You developed the symptoms of this illness two days after leaving the town of Colburne.”
He studied the carpet on the ground for a few moments before voicing a question that worried him. “Where are my parents?”
“Your father has gone on down the river. He stayed until yesterday afternoon, waiting to ensure you’d be fine. He will return to pick you up when he returns up river.” Odd, his father didn’t wait for any reason longer than he needed to leave port. He must have been quite sick if he worried his father so.
“And my mother? Did she go with him?”
The women blinked, and then slowly put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m afraid your mother also took ill.”
He looked at her confused. “So you Healed her too, right?”
“No, I did not,” Marlein said calmly, “I’m afraid your mother did not live to make it to Tar Valon.”
His chest clenched up, making it hard to breath. He tried taking deep, shallow breaths to calm himself as his eyes welled up. It was hard to bite back the tears, but he managed somehow. He nodded to assure the waiting Aes Sedai she could continue. He’d not cry in front of her, he wouldn’t, couldn’t, let himself.
Wiping his eyes dry with a hand, she spoke softly that his father left him a letter and gave it to him. It wasn’t much, it looked hastily written, the writing tight and cramped, apologizing for leaving with a reinforcing statement about his principle about maintaining schedule and went on shortly to note the death of two crew members. Nothing about his mother unsurprising for his father, who distanced himself from his emotions when he couldn’t handle them. An oddity was in it though, a caution to stay away from the Warder’s Yard. He frowned at the letter and then Aes Sedai, wondering what she made of it, but her smooth face was unreadable.
A few softly spoken words of comfort, and the Aes Sedai took her leave. He waited several seconds before allowing the tight ball in his chest to be released with a sob, followed by another until he couldn’t control himself any longer and tears rolled down his face.
The first night was longest. He didn’t sleep much, and what he did get was fitful. He’d not have eaten if the servants hadn’t insisted on it, under threat of bringing an Aes Sedai to convince him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t hungry; he just didn’t feel like it. As time went on it got better. If he didn’t think about his mother’s death, or her and kept them forgotten he’d began to feel better. At night, he wasn’t able to, but at least he was during the day.
The days were long, but not without some enjoyment. The servants had fetched a small library of books for him to read, ranging from poetry to histories to novels. He didn’t particularly care what he was reading he simply told whoever was bringing the book to him chose something they enjoyed. Some of their choices were rather interesting.
The occasional comment on his health was always to be expected. From time to time, they spoke of this Aes Sedai or that, which had checked on him when he was sleeping saying his body was recovering. The dark circles under his eyes were slowly lessening, and his skin was not quite as pale as it was when he first awakened, but it didn’t seem to be regaining his natural skin tone.
He was no longer confined to the bed, and would read at the desk now. He tried to go on walks in the various gardens at least once a day and occasionally stopped to watch the trainees in the Warder’s Yard with a touch of jealousy. His father was a swordsman, and had spent a journey up the Erinin once trying to teach him how to use it, two years ago. Nothing fancy, just how to hold it properly and swing it in a way that he wouldn’t hurt himself. When his mother found out though, Cadwyn thought his father wouldn’t make it back to his boat alive.
Perhaps that was why his father cautioned him? His mother had always had a strong dislike for soldiers of any kind, and she endured living in a nation like Shienar grudgingly, at best. She never allowed Cadwyn to go anywhere near soldiers though, even when other boys played at it, she’d call him in and have him practice his letters or read. She treated stories of battles and heroes as propaganda, until he came to an age where he learned to quietly keep such things to himself.
On a pleasant afternoon he found himself sitting beneath one of the trees with a book, watching the boys and men practice at swords and fighting in the yard. He’d watched them as often as he read the book. Soon he found himself going there every day and reading beneath the tree, reading less and less until he found himself only watching. The way they gracefully moved as if dancing intrigued him.
One evening after they’d finished packing up all the practice weapons and everyone left to bath and eat, he stood to go do the same, when he noticed a practice sword sitting out not too far from him. Watching it for a moment, he looked around and didn’t see anyone who would put it away.
Slowly he walked up to it and picked it up and held it the way his father showed him. “Hey, look out!” A voiced shouted at him from behind.
Turning to look who called to him, his eyes widened in shock as another practice sword swung downward at him. He brought his up to keep it from hitting him. A woman stood across from him, swinging again at his shoulder this time, causing him to bring up his practice sword again deflecting the blow away. Something was wrong about her movement though, as if she had to restrain herself and she lacked the fluid motion that the others had shown before. She didn’t use, what his father called, forms to attack, simple swung at him.
Anger built up in him, and parrying her next swing, he darted at her swinging back. If he surprised her, it didn’t show, but that practice sword moved faster than he could see, knocking his own sword right from his hands and within seconds, he too was on the ground, breathing hard from a blow to the chest.
She lowered a hand down to him, and helped him up. “Boy, I’ve seen you watch us every day for the past half-week.” She noticed? Well it was not as though you were hiding, a small voice said in the back of his head. “Do you ever plan on doing more than that? You could be good, after being trained; you just proved to me that much.” Did she purposefully leave that sword out?
“W-well, I’m not sure,” he said hesitantly. “My father will be back to get me soon.”
“So you can’t give this a try in the mean time? Who knows, you might even enjoy it.” She said, smiling as if she said something funny.
Cadwyn stared at her for a moment, considering the offer. Stories were told about Warders, or people who trained with them, not that he expected that he’d end up in stories. After a moment he tried to return her smile with a small grin of his own, but he felt it might have been a poor attempt. “Why not? It couldn’t hurt right?”