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Found 344 results

  1. Elebet Kholin by Beth Hamilton Gianakouros Chapter 1 KHOLINAR Elebet Kholin was in the place she loved the most on Roshar— the royal stables next to the palace of Kholinar. The open yard was surrounded by high walls, and set against the palace wall on the side away from the storm’s approach. There were stalls, a tack room, and wash racks in a huge attached barn, and a few large shed-row stalls along the palace wall side. A hay storage barn was on the third side, with a large arched gate leading to the edge of the city at the opposite end. It was the place she felt she belonged. Never mind Vorin ladies thought she was rough and uncouth. She loved silk dresses and slippers on occasion, but preferred her riding breeches and boots. The stable wasn’t right, though. She tried not to think about what had happened to all the horses. They were almost all gone. She assumed they’d been eaten during the Parshendi siege. There were only two now, both Ryshadium, and she had them closed in the roomy shed-row box stalls. One was her own big bay mare, Belle, her coat dappled dark red with shining black mane, tail, and legs. Elebet assumed Belle had survived either because Ryshadium were so valuable, or because Belle had stayed out of the city while Elebet was locked in the palace prison. She had always allowed the horse free turnout to graze, and Belle may have stayed away when she didn’t feel Elebet around. They had a special bond, and could feel each other’s thoughts. They could almost carry on a conversation, or at least Elebet thought she could hear Belle in her head, usually making wisecracks about other horses. The other horse had wandered in a few days ago. She was black with a white blaze on her face. She would try to kill anyone who came near her except Elebet, pinning her ears, baring her teeth and kicking at them. Given any chance to reach them, she would bite or charge to stomp them. Elebet, she merely tolerated. Was she hunting her person? She had come to an odd place at an odd time for that. Elebet turned to the yard’s horse watering trough. She held a long handled brush in her gloved safehand. Her left sleeve had been ripped too many times to cover her hand any longer. The glove was actually much more convenient, especially since she was safehand dominant. She wondered what man had come up with the idea of a woman covering her left hand. Was it so different from the right? She actually liked the glove and had decided it would be worth the scandal. The little viney Cultivation spren that had begun following her after her release from the palace prison was twined across the base of the trough. She was grateful for his company, and grateful that he helped keep her havah repaired, pulling the ripped parts together and stitching it with small vines, with little crystals forming along the vines in a decorative pattern. It had once been her favorite—Kholin blue silk. Now it barely fit. Going hungry had at least let her lose the weight so the remnants it still met around her. Thank the Almighty that the little spren stitched it with a vine that disintegrated into dust when necessary, which kept it from being ripped further. He didn’t say much. He called himself Jon. She loved it when he formed his sweet, leafy face. Leaning over the trough to check how dirty the water was, she saw her reflection in the still water: blond hair with just a hint of red pulled back and tied in a tail, blue-green eyes that changed with her mood, fair skin with a sprinkling of freckles. Not an Alethi face. The left side of her face was bruised and swollen, her lower lip swollen and split on the corner. It cracked and bled if she smiled. In the center of her forehead, the slave brand had mostly healed. She jabbed the brush into the water and scrubbed furiously, erasing the face. Bending hurt her body, but she needed to clean the trough, and she gritted her teeth as she scrubbed. “Excuse me.” The male voice behind her surprised her. She straightened and spun, the brush held like a weapon. It was all she had. A single purple blob of fearspren appeared briefly at her feet. “I won’t hurt you.” He held his empty hands out from his sides, palms facing her. He hesitated, staring at her. “But somebody already has.” His expression told her he was upset by that. Very upset. He was tall, even for an Alethi, muscular, lean and broad shouldered, maybe a year or two older than her. His scruffy, few-day-growth short beard barely covered a square jaw over tanned skin, with long, softly curling black hair that hadn’t been combed in a while. His had soulful dark eyes. The dark eyes surprised her. His bearing was noble, though his drab vest, ragged britches, and worn boots agreed with his eye color. And it wasn’t just his eye color that contrasted what she sensed. He had a slave brand and a shash brand— dangerous— on his forehead, too. Elebet smiled half a wry smile. “It’s what happens to women in a city that gets conquered, especially ones who resist.” She raised the brush to point briefly at his forehead. “Looks like you resisted, too.” The man put a hand nearly to his forehead and dropped it again. “Yeh. I ran away a few too many times.” Looking at his expression, she didn’t believe the dangerous brand and relaxed her arm a little. His was the first expression of sympathy she had seen in a long time. “I’m looking for someone,” he said. He reached into a pocket inside his vest, pulling out a neatly folded sheet of paper. “Her father sent me to bring her back. One of her brothers said this was where she’d be if she was still alive.” He unfolded the paper and held it up, looking at it and then at her face. “They said she was the image of her mother a few years ago, and probably would be now. You look a lot like the picture they gave me. Well, parts of your face do.” Elebet froze. She hoped he couldn’t read her face, hoped he couldn’t see both the relief and the dread she felt. “Which part of my face?” He obviously didn’t get the joke, so she added “Poor girl either way.” She smiled. Her lip cracked and bled. His lips twitched slightly upward, briefly. He turned the picture to her so she could see. It looked for the world like her mother. Then from the street outside, another male voice shouted. “Kholin slontze, where are you?” “Hide, quick! In the stalls there,” she hissed at the stranger. “If he finds you here, they’ll kill you.” Any other way would take him past the gate, and he would be seen. She saw a ribbon of blue light fly through the gate and stop near his ear for a moment. Then he ran to the shed-row stalls, and to her horror, leapt into the black mare’s stall. She didn’t have time to stop him. She had to quickly go back to scrubbing the trough. “I’m here!” she shouted as she bent over the trough, “like I always am,” she said more quietly. She didn’t hear any commotion from the stall, thank the Stormfather. The man came through the gate, striding purposefully to her, grabbing her arm, pulling her upright, holding her face close to his. He was typically dark Alethi, with a thin face and hawkish nose and tan beads for eyes. He was almost as tall and a little more muscular than the kind faced stranger. Behind him, four other men lined up in the gate, two darkeyes and two lighteyes, and she could see the robes of several Fused floating above them. “You don’t leave without telling me where you’re going. And if you try to run away again, I WILL kill that horse. Hear me?” He shook her to make his point. “You know I’m either here or in the kitchens.” “You always tell me when and where you’re going. Every storming time. You didn’t do the things we told you to do this morning. Those better be done when we get back. And have food ready.” She jerked her arm from his hand and went back to scrubbing. He put his hand on her hip and said, “Brightness,” his tone was mocking. “When will you stop fighting me like a whitespine? If I didn’t need them to help,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder to the four standing in the gate, “I wouldn’t have to give them a turn.” Elebet threw the brush at him, grabbed the edge of the trough and heaved upward, dumping the crem filled water onto the man’s feet. He grabbed her by the front of her havah and drew his hand back to hit her, but stopped when he heard the Fused above him. “Vyre” one called down, “we don’t have time for this. Let her go. You humans always in Mateform are disgusting. Come. Now.” Vyre shoved her and left through the gate with the others. The Fused lifted the four other men into the sky, Vyre rose with them, and soon all were out of sight. Elebet ran to the black mare’s stall, flinging open the door, expecting to see the stranger stomped into a gooey spot. Instead, he was pinned in a corner of the stall with the mare nuzzling him, making soft ruckling noises deep in her throat like she’d just had a foal. “You want to call her off, please?” He was fine. “Looks like she’s chosen you,” Elebet said, leaning, her hands on her knees. “Congratulations! You have a Ryshadium.” “I don’t need a horse, Brightness.” Elebet straightened up and frowned. “Please don’t call me that. And I don’t think ‘need’ has anything to do with a Ryshadium choosing a person.” “I heard the man call you Kholin, so I am assuming you are Brightness Elebet Kholin. Your father sent me to bring you back to your family. I apologize for not helping you just now...” He was thinking—that man’s voice sounded too familiar..... “But you weren’t going to beat five men and at least that many Fused.” “Not and keep you safe, and get you out of the city, I don’t think.” “You know who I am. Exactly who are you?” “I’m Captain Kaladin.....” “The one they call Stormblessed? The one who saved my father and brothers from the Parshendi when Sadeas abandoned them?” “I really don’t like being called ‘Stormblessed’” he shifted from under the contented mare’s nose and stood up. “How’d you know....” “My brothers wrote me before the spanreeds stopped. Adolin had lots of time to write me.” She frowned. “My father doesn’t hate me anymore? He really wants me back?” “Brightness, he never hated you....” “Please don’t call me Brightness.” “But it’s the proper....” “You heard how Vyre said it. They call me that when.....” her voice trailed off. “Understood. Princess then. Will Princess do?” “How about just Elebet?” “Inappropriate, Princess. You’re a Lighteyes and I’m a Darkeyes.” “My mother, the woman in that picture, always said ‘there are good people and there are bad people, and the color of their eyes, skin, or hair has nothing to do with it.” “Your mother sounds like an unusual woman. But you ARE the daughter of my commander, so I need to address you properly.” She sighed. “Fine. My father doesn’t hate me?” “No. He never hated you. What he told me when he gave me this mission was that he sent you away after your mother’s death because he saw HER every time he looked at you. He said the pain over her death drove him mad. He finally went to the Nightwatcher to ask for his pain to be taken away. She did, but took his memory of her with it. He couldn’t remember her face or even hear her name.” “He FORGOT my mother?” “Yes. He’s guessing that since you are so like her, he forgot you, too. Seeing your face would be seeing her face, I guess. When he remembered, he told me to come for you.” “How can I go back now?” She put her safehand to her forehead and the slave brand. “They’ll know. They’ll know everything. Shame for my family.” “None of this is your fault, Princess.” He said it quietly. She saw that he wasn’t looking at her, that his mind was someplace else. “You know how the Alethi think. I failed to stop them, and failing makes it my fault.” Kaladin rubbed his scruffy chin. He knew only too well the guilt of failure. “I heard the man say you fought like a whitespine. How were you going to beat so many? He said you tried.” “Every time. Every. Time. I don’t know why they didn’t kill me.” “I may have an idea how. And maybe something can be done about the scar.” Kaladin tilted his head, looking at the little Cultivation spren that had scooted over and was twining around Elebet‘s ankle. “Maybe.” Elebet followed his eyes. “You can see him? You can see Jon?” She smiled when Kaladin nodded. “Nobody else can. No humans anyway. He always hides from Parshendi and Fused.” “Actually, I have a spren of my own. Syl,” he called, “you close?” The blue ribbon on light that she had seen near his ear swirled from above them, alighting on Kaladin’s shoulder in the form of a girl with a flowing skirt and hair. “All clear? They all gone?” “Yes,” Syl said, “all five of them with the men. I don’t see any others.” “Ooohhh,” Elebet’s eyes widened. “Honor spren! She’s so beautiful!” Syl smiled at Elebet, and turned to Kaladin, “I like this one.” Kaladin frowned at Elebet. “Don’t encourage her, please, Princess.” “But Stormblessed, she’s an Honor spren!” She wrinkled her nose at Kaladin when he scowled at her. If he was going to call her Princess, she would call him Stormblessed. “Jon is it?” He squatted down to Jon’s level. “Has she said the words? Can she draw Stormlight and heal herself?” Jon’s vine body formed a face and arms. “She has lived ‘life before death and strength before weakness,’” but has yet to completely understand ‘journey before destination.’ I have accepted her actions as her words. She does not know about Stormlight.” “And the second words?” “She is not at all ready for the second words.” Elebet was looking at them like they were speaking a foreign language. “What are you talking about? What words?” “‘Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.’ Those are the first words to become Radiant. If you say the next words, and can draw Stormlight, it may heal you. Erase the scar. “ “What are the next words? “ Kaladin sighed. “You have to know them and say them yourself. No one can tell you.” “That’s not helpful.” “You are not ready, Elebet.” Jon shook his head. “Kaladin Stormblessd, they’re setting a trap for whoever comes to get me.....if someone came to get me. It’s been long enough I think they were giving up. But Vyre has an Honor blade, and the plan is if a Radiant comes and draws Stormlight to fight him, that will call the Fused.” Jon and Syl started making faces at each other, then alternately sticking their tongues out at each other. “Then we need to go, Princess.” “Not yet. I have some things to tend to in the kitchen. And....” “The kitchen? You’re joking.” “No. People who need to be taken care of. And I need to get more for us to take to eat. I only have enough for one stashed....” “So you are planning to run again.” “Planning a journey. Didn’t have a destination. Where would I go? I couldn’t go to my family.” “You CAN go to them. The trip won’t take long. Don’t worry about food. We’ll get far enough away from the screamers so when I use Stormlight no Fused will bother us, and we’ll fly...” “Fly? You fly? I don’t.” “I’ll do the flying for both of us. More like falling, really.” “Falling? I don’t like flying. I don’t like heights. I REALLY don’t like falling. And we have to take the horses.” “The horses? No. No. No horses.” “Then I don’t go with you.” “Princess, I have orders. We go now.” “No. Not until I take care of my people. Not without our horses. And not until Vyre and his crew fall asleep tonight. We leave now, we only have a couple hours head start. They’ll miss me at dinner and come looking. We go tonight, we have nearly eight hours until morning. Now. Are you hungry?” “Hungry?” “When did you eat last?” “Umm...” “That’s what I thought.” She looked down at Jon then to Syl. The tongue war continued. “You two. Stop. Stop now! Listen.” She pointed at Syl. “There is no life without Cultivation.” She pointed at Jon. “Life isn’t worth much without Honor.” She folded her arms. “Now stop.” They did. Syl looked a little embarrassed. “Good job, mom.” Kaladin smiled at her. He has such a nice smile, she thought. “I’ll get you some of the troop ration bars I’ve got hidden and a crispmelon. Good crispmelons, fresh, not soul cast. And even the rations taste delicious if you’re hungry enough.” Kaladin nodded. She’d obviously been hungry if she knew that. “You rest here and eat. I’ll be back when the crew is asleep and we’ll go.” She got him a handful of bars, a big crispmelon, and a cup of fresh water. He accepted them, shaking his head in wonder at this girl, beaten and abused, making sure he was fed. He settled on some hay bales, eating and watching her finish her chores for the horses. Here was not just a Lighteyes, but a Princess, doing chores—cleaning horse poop out of stalls, scrubbing water troughs—things Parshmen used to do. Doing them and seemed to enjoy doing them. He began to feel guilty for not helping her, got up and followed her to the feed room. She got lavis grain for the horses and handed him a bucket. They fed the mares, and Kaladin gave the black mare his crispmelon core. “She looks familiar,” he said stroking her silky neck as she ate. “Reminds me of a mare I rode when your father ordered me to learn to ride. But she wasn’t Ryshadium. Couldn’t be the same horse, could it?” “I’m not sure. Did a spren bond her and turn her into a Ryshadium? I don’t know. That’s the theory, so could be her.” “I’ve been thinking about taking the horses.” “Which we ARE.” “We can use them for our escape. Ride them out far enough to avoid screamers and Fused, and then let them go to confuse whoever follows us, lead them in the wrong direction.” “I’ve led the horses out to graze outside the city every night. We can walk on their side away from any sentries, then ride after we are far enough away that we aren’t seen. That is how I had my next escape planned. But let them go?” “They’ll find you—us—again, won’t they? They seem to be very intelligent . I have heard your father talk to his Gallant like a person and Gallant responded like he understood perfectly. We need to get out of Parshendi territory as quickly and quietly as possible. And we have a very long way to go.” She grew quiet. “Journey before destination, huh? I tried journey with no destination the first time. I guess you’re giving me a destination now.” “Urithiru.” “What?” “Shallan found it.” He saw the question on her face. “Adolin’s wife. Another story for later.” “Adolin is married! Ok, I need to sit down!” But she didn’t. “I need to get a couple of women to the kitchen and get back to feed Vyre” she said his name through gritted teeth. “I’ll make sure they are all asleep, come back here, and we’ll go. I have a pair of boots, breeches, and shirt hidden in the hay for me to wear, and you can pack the food we need while I’m gone.” She showed him her food stash and a couple of feed sacks to carry things. When she left, she didn’t know he followed her. She walked a few streets over from the stable and knocked on a door. A young woman came to the door, and after a few minutes she and another slightly older woman stepped into the street. Five children poured out the door, the smallest grabbing his mother’s leg to be picked up, and the next smallest stopping in front of Elebet, holding her arms up to her. Elebet scooped her up and kissed her. The women and children came back towards Kaladin and the palace, and he ducked from sight. As they passed, he could see they were all Darkeyes except for the Princess. He followed as they went to the palace kitchen, and he easily mixed into the people taking supplies in and out so he could stay close to Elebet. She greeted a large older woman who seemed to be in charge. “Swene, these are the two ladies I told you about. They’ll be good help for you. One can work while the other keeps the children, and they can switch places when needed.” “And just how much food are THEY going to steal?” Swene put her hands on her hips. “Swene, please. What I took was mostly for them, and a few other widows. Mostly. Their husbands died defending us. Their children are hungry. We need to help them.” Elebet pleaded earnestly with the old woman. “Fine. Fine. Come over here and let me show you what you’re going to do tomorrow.” She waved the women over. “Don’t need you this late today.” Elebet took the children while their mothers followed Swene and found pieces of lavis bread for them. The children ate hungrily. When their mothers came back to leave, they hugged Elebet and thanked her. They all left with some food for later, and Elebet went to work. As Kaladin moved in and out of the kitchen moving heavy boxes with several thin men, he saw her peeling vegetables and washing pots. He couldn’t picture any of the other Kholins washing pots except for Renarin, and that still didn’t seem normal. Elebet left the kitchen when evening came with food for five men and herself. It was nearly dark as Kaladin followed her to Vyre’s camp. Vyre and his four men had a small bunker to sleep in, with an open area in front of it with cooking fire pit and seating around it that reminded Kaladin of his bridge carrying days. The difference was various weapons piled around the edge of the camp. Vyre yelled as Elebet appeared, angry that she was so late getting there with their supper. She ignored him, unloading the food, slicing the pork into portions for each of them, putting it into bowls and handing them out. She cut bread, took a chunk to each man, and carefully placed the sharp, pointed pork carving knife and serrated bread knife near the fire. Then she moved to the edge of the camp and ate her food—men’s food— as far from the men as she could be. Kaladin froze as the man Vyre turned to the firelight. No wonder his voice sounded familiar. It was Moash. Storming Moash. He should have killed him so many times. How much good would he have done if he had killed his best friend? How different would so many lives be? If Moash called his Honorblade, would it draw the Fused? He didn’t dare call his Sylblade and risk it. Well, he’d killed shardbrearers with a wooden spear and not using much Stormlight before. But the Honorblade would definitely give Moash the advantage. He would wait, let the Princess’ plan unfold. Kaladin was too far away to hear much of what was said, but watched closely when Elebet began collecting bowls. She was taking them to wash when Moash grabbed her and jerked her around. Dishes flew everywhere. A feral roar came from her as Moash ripped the front of her havah. She lunged at him, biting and clawing. Moash punched her in the stomach. Elebet doubled over, and the other four moved in a practiced formation, each grasping an arm or leg. They slammed her to the ground, the one on her left ripping off her glove. Kaladin had already taken a spear from a pile of weapons. Now he stepped into the firelight. “Moash. Get off her.” Moash and the four men stood and turned as one. “Well, old friend. I wondered who they’d send for her. I hoped it’d be you. We’ve been enjoying our time with her.” The four men scrambled for weapons. As Moash talked and held his hand to his side to call his Honorblade, Jezrien’s blade, no one noticed Elebet. She knew very well where the sharp pointed carving knife was. She placed it in exactly the same spot each night in hopes she got an opportunity to use it on more than meat before the men took it away. And she remembered very well the things her big brother taught her as a little girl, showing off what their father had taught him. “Vyre!” The tone of her voice from behind him made Moash turn to face her as his blade coalesced in his hand. Elebet grasped the knife with both hands, tip pointed slightly up. With a roar, she stabbed him low, then ripped upward until the tip cut under his ribs and into his heart. Blood gushed from his split torso and heart, covering her hands and arms. He fell, the embedded knife pulled from Elebet’s hands. His Honorblade dropped to the ground beside him. Kaladin had little trouble with the first two men. The spear in his hands felt natural, and they were no match for him, even without Stormlight. He was turning attention to the second two before they could react and go for the Honorblade when he saw Elebet, havah ripped open down the front and flowing around her, blood all over her, her face wild, find the bread knife. He ran the spear through his man as Elebet ducked under the other’s sword arm, stabbing him with the same move she had Moash. Elebet collapsed on to her knees, sitting on her heels, trembling. Her hands were sticky with blood, still holding the knife. Jon had appeared and was carefully pulling her havah together and stitching it with vines. Kaladin looked around for her glove, but couldn’t find it. He knelt next to her. She flinched from him, jerking the knife up. “Easy! It’s me. Are you hurt? Any of that blood yours?” “I can’t stop shaking.” “It’s adrenaline. It’ll pass.” Kaladin dragged the bodies into the bunker, placing them on their sleeping mats, covering them with blankets, noting the bite and scratch marks on the four. One’s ear was even notched. He left the knife in Moash’s chest. He wrapped the Honorblade in a blanket, tore strips to tie it, and strapped it to his back. That would definitely have changed the fight, he thought. He quickly straightened the area up, dumping the unwashed dishes under another blanket, piling the weapons up. The less noticeable it was, the more head start they were likely to have. He knelt back beside Elebet. “Can you stand?” “Sure.” But her legs would not cooperate. Kaladin scooped her up, Jon still stitching. He carried her through deserted streets the short distance to the stable yard, sitting her gently next to the water trough. “Let’s get you cleaned up. Got any towels or cloths? And where are the clothes you have hidden in the hay?” She pointed to the horse grooming shelves and the neatly folded towels, and told him where to find her riding clothes. He came back with them, dipping the towels into the trough and washing the blood from her face. Her hands were so gummy with blood that the bread knife was stuck in her safehand. The adrenaline rush was wearing off, and she was feeling steadier. “Thank you. And I’m sorry I’m slowing us down,” she said softly as he worked. “Slowing us down? You saved me some time. You were brave and fierce. You fought like a whitespine.” She looked intently at his face for a few moments. “Vyre called you old friend.” “He was my best friend when we were bridgemen. Moash.....”. He looked her in the eyes solemnly. “I should have killed him a long time ago. I am so sorry for what he did to you.” She smiled weakly. “The Fused would just have given me to somebody else.” Storms. How could she smile? “You knew that’s what they’d do to you. Why did you go back there? We should have left this afternoon.” “No. We need the time tonight to have better chance to escape. You’re risking your life to get me out of here. I needed to make sure I didn’t get you caught and killed.” He shook his head. “Storms, Elebet. You were going to let them....” he couldn’t say the words, knew she didn’t want to hear them, either, “to protect me?” She nodded, staring at the ground. When he got to her safehand and the knife, she was embarrassed. “Here, let me.” She got up and dipped her arms into the trough, then toweled them off. “I’ll go change.” She took the clothes along with a wet and a dry towel into the tack room and finished cleaning herself up and changed into her shirt, buff breeches, and black boots. The shirt was Kholin blue, split front and back to go around a horse, and hung to her knees. Kaladin noted that the clothes were very dirty, purposely so, to act as camouflage. “Did you pack some food?” “No. I followed you.” “Men,” she muttered under her breath, only half joking. She took two of the bags and stuffed ration bars and a few crispmelons into them. He filled a couple of canteens with water. “Tack? Saddles?” He looked around. “No. We need to walk out, no halters or anything, like they have every night going to graze. We’ll walk on their other side and ride when we get far enough away from the sentries. You said you can ride.” “I said I had lessons,” he shrugged his shoulders. I can use just enough Stormlight to stick to the horse and not be too bright—I hope. Elebet put her face up to Belle’s and explained their plan to the mare. When she got to point about the release, she asked Kaladin where to tell the mares to go to find them. “The Shattered Plains will be closest and fastest for them, and they can go through the Oathgate to Urithiru. That way they’ll give anyone chasing us a logical direction to assume we’re headed. When it’s daylight, we’ll fly a different direction.” They walked out with the horses, Elebet short enough to be invisible if the sentries didn’t count legs. Kaladin had to duck a little to keep his head completely below Dreamstorm’s shoulder. Outside the gate, they meandered as the horses grazed. No one raised an alarm. Out of sentry range, Elebet found a rock to get her high enough to climb onto Belle’s back. Kaladin stood head to head with Dreamstorm, whispering to her his intentions, then grabbed a handful of mane and swung up onto her. He used as little Stormlight as possible to adhere to her. He tried to remember to use leg and seat pressure to guide her, but found it easier to just think for her to follow Belle, and she did. They didn’t talk as they rode through the moonlit night, each moon coming and going. They stayed off the road as much as possible, so both were thankful for the horses’ excellent night vision. Kaladin was happy with the speed and ground covering stride of the big animals, and had to admit to himself that the Ryshadium were special. It was a weird sensation to him to have no saddle for support or bridle for control, but he actually liked the feel of the powerful moving body under him. Nearly daybreak, they stopped on rocky ground so their human footprints would not betray them. The Ryshadium hooves left marks on the rock. Elebet cried just a little as she told Belle and Dreamstorm to leave and find them at the Shattered Plains. The bay mare put the front of her head to Elebet’s body and pressed there for a moment. The black mare put her nose to Kaladin and took big, puffing breaths. Then the two were off at a gallop, leaving a trail for any who might follow. Kaladin led Elebet into the woods, looking for a good place to hole up for a few hours to rest and hopefully see their pursuers pass them by. Kaladin sent Syl to the treetops to watch the sky, and Jon to the edge of the woods where he could blend to see the road. Elebet was plainly exhausted, the spren—brown jets of dust— blowing around her. She was even paler in the morning light than normal. They found an area with thick foliage around it, but open in the middle, and sat. Each ate a ration bar and drank water. Kaladin unstrapped the Honorblade from its place on his back, laid it at her feet. “This is yours, you know.” “I don’t want it. I don’t want to touch it. It’s yours.” “I don’t want or need it. I’ll give it to your father.” Elebet couldn’t hold her eyes open any longer, and curled on her side and slept. Stormlight had kept Kaladin going for days, and he had to not use any as they hid. He felt the exhaustion overtaking him, too, but only dozed, ears alert to any strange noise. He came fully awake, feeling surprisingly refreshed, hearing Fused calling to each other above their hiding place. The leaves above them were thick so he was sure they couldn’t be seen. They were following the Ryshadium hoof prints. Please don’t stop to graze, he thought to the horses. Keep going as fast as you can for a little longer. There was a danger of Elebet waking and making noise, but when he looked at her, he saw she was in deep sleep. He kept alert, but rested until Syl and Jon appeared. “Five Fused,” Syl reported quietly, standing in the air before him. “Probably the five who were working with the men yesterday, and found them this morning.” “Gone? Following the horses?” “Yes. I believe it’s safe to go now.” “I agree,” Jon added. He turned to Elebet. “Elebet? Elebet? Wake up, my girl.” He patted her face with leafy fingers. Elebet stirred and sat up. She looked around not knowing where she was, looked a little startled when she saw Kaladin, but focused and remembered. She smiled a weak smile. “That was a bad nap. Too much. I feel groggy, in a fog. Did you get some rest?” “Yes. Syl says the coast is clear. Ready to go?” He stood, strapped the Honorblade to his back, and held his hand down to her to help her up. She grasped it with her freehand and pulled herself up. “Kal.... something’s wrong. I don’t feel so good.” Kaladin caught her as she fell. There was bright blood all over her breeches. A lot of blood. Too much blood. Kaladin was knowledgeable about any battlefield wound, the best at triage, a good surgeon. But he knew very little about women’s care. He’d never needed to learn it. He felt panic rising in him. He knew the flight to the nearest Oathgate was the direction the Fused had gone. Besides, he didn’t think Elebet would make it that far losing that much blood. The only answer was to get her Hearthstone and his father. Jon had twined around Elebet’s waist and was making distressed noises. Syl zipped around him in a blur. Kaladin drew in Stormlight and launched into the air, cradling the girl and her spren in his arms, headed for home. Chapter II HEARTHSTONE Elebet felt like she was trying to climb out of a deep, pitch black well—a well with no water. She tried to open her eyes, but they felt like balls of sand in her head. Her throat and mouth felt full of sand, too. She tried to call for help. Only an odd croaking noise came out. “Lift her up a little, son, and let’s see if we can get some water in her.” It was a woman’s voice. Strong hands lifted her gently, and a cool cup touched her parched lips. She tried to drink too much, too fast and choked. “Easy, sweetie,” the woman’s voice said. “We’ll give you all you want.” Elebet took several sips. “Kaladin? Is he ok?” “Right here, Elebet,” His voice came from above her head. She didn’t know that she smiled. “We’re safe. We’re at my parents’ house. You rest.” She didn’t have as much trouble climbing out of the dark well later, and her eyes didn’t feel so rough. She opened them, blinking to adjust to the dim light in the room. She was in a clean room with clean sheets on a sturdy bed. Her bed gown was soft and had a long, buttoned safehand sleeve. A little face with baby cheeks, dark curling hair, and huge brown eyes was studying her intently. “You gotta wotta booboos,” he said solemnly. “Did you faw down?” “Yes, I guess so. A bunch of times.” “You gotta be more careful,” he said it like an order, shaking his finger at her. “I will, I promise. What’s your name, little man?” “I’m Ory,” he said, pointing his finger to his chest. “Well, I’m Bet. Pleased to meet you Ory.” She held out her freehand. He hesitated a moment, then shook it enthusiastically. “I wike you funny pwant.” “I am not a funny plant,” Jon sniffed. “You most certainly are the funniest kind of plant,” Elebet corrected him. She looked at Ory. “Do you have a drink of water around here, Ory?” Kaladin’s voice came from a few feet away, “Right here, Bet. Ory, go tell mother and father that Bet is awake.” Ory thundered from the room yelling, “Mama! Daddy! My Bet is awake!” “I believe my little brother is quite impressed with your booboos. And you weren’t crying, so he is extra impressed.” “Booboos are badges of honor at that age.” Kaladin chuckled. “They really are.” His face grew serious. “So how are you feeling?” “Thirsty.” “Here.” He lifted her a little and handed her a cup. She drank, draining the cup of cool water. “What happened?” she asked. “The Fused passed us by, following the horses, and when we got up to leave,” he struggled to find words, “and you were bleeding. Those storming chulls beat you one too many times, I guess.” “Bleeding? I kind of remember.” She looked up into his face so close to hers and saw the concern in his eyes. It slowly dawned on her that he was clean shaven, his hair combed, clothes clean. “What...” “My father is a surgeon. He’ll talk to you.” His parents came into the infirmary room and Kaladin introduced them, Lirin and Hesina. Ory followed them in and hung on his mother’s skirt, staring at Elebet. “Do you feel like eating? Yes. I’ll bring you something.” Hesina tried to leave but Ory pulled her back. Kaladin swooped him up and threw him over his shoulder. “Come on, brother. Let’s help Mother.” He didn’t add ‘so Father can talk to his patient.’ “How are you feeling?” Lirin sat on a stool and leaned over to feel Elebet’s pulse on her freehand. “Wrung out like a rag.” “You lost a lot of blood. Keep still and rest, and we’ll get food and fluids into you and see how you feel later.” He looked at the table next to her bed. There were a couple of dun spheres on it. “Honestly, I believe without your little spren friend” he pointed to Jon curled at the foot of the bed, “and a fused gem or two, you wouldn’t still be with us. Or so my son says. I can’t see any other medical reason. I would like for you to have your father’s surgeons examine you when you get home.” “Why?” “Just rather have a second opinion, some surgeons with more specific experience in what is going on with you, see how you heal.” “Sounds serious.” “Let’s not worry yet. Get strong and feel better. Hesina! Have you got something for our patient to eat?” Hesina came back with a tray for Elebet. Kaladin propped her up so she could eat. The food was simple, but tasty, vegetables with a warm cup of tea that was a little sweet. There was not a lot of it, but she hadn’t had a big meal in a long while, and her stomach was shrunken anyway. Ory hung on the side of the bed watching her eat. Elebet noticed his eyes following her hand to her mouth, and offered him bites, which he happily accepted. “Oh, no, my little piggy. That’s for Elebet. It’s your bedtime anyway.” Hesina tried to shoo him away, but he protested loudly. “Ory, it’s my bedtime, too. I’ll still be here in the morning.” Elebet looked to Kaladin, who nodded. Ory let himself be herded out of the room by his parents. Kaladin took Lirin’s place on the stool next to her. “I apologize for addressing you so familiarly. But we don’t want Oroden to know who you are and tell anyone.” “Not safe for you family.” “Not safe. But you need to recover at least a little before we move you again.” “I don’t want to endanger them.” “We’re far enough from town, it’s ok for a couple of days. You sleep now. It IS your bedtime, too.” He left a couple of infused spheres next to her bed and took the dun ones away. She fell asleep easily in their soft glow. She woke early the next morning. She heard deep breathing in the room, and when she stirred to see who was there, Kaladin woke, too. He was on a pallet on the floor on the other side of the room. He sat up, stretching as he asked how she felt, looking at the now dun spheres beside her. “I feel better. I’m sorry you slept on the floor.” “This? More comfortable than other places I’ve slept. My mother made sure of that. Ready for some breakfast?” She was, and she ate lavis bread and drank sweet tea. Lirin checked on her before he left for town and suggested she move outside and sit in the sun for a while. He instructed Hesina and Kaladin keep a cup of something to drink next to her at all times. He left something bitter and medicinal tasting for her, and Hesina cut the taste with her sweet tea. Kaladin got a chair with a footrest, put some cushions on it, his mother found a blanket in case she was chilly in the morning air, and Kaladin came back to escort her outside. Ory ran laps back and forth between them all. “Ready? Let me help. Are you okay with me touching you to help?” “I’ll always feel safe in your arms.” “Ok. Go slow.” She swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat for a moment. She felt a little dizzy but it passed. “Tell me when you’re ready.” She nodded, and Kaladin helped her up. She stood still a moment, but as she stepped, the room got darker. “Oops, going down...” she warned. Kaladin helped lower her back to the bed as she collapsed. “Blood didn’t go up with the head.” “Sit a bit more. No rush. Take a couple of deep breaths before we try again.” She took a few deep breaths, stood with him supporting her, and she stayed upright that time. Kaladin held her freehand arm and held her around the waist for support. He guided her out to the yard behind the house. Hesina had a garden there with both vegetables and flowers. The hills in the distance were covered with rockbuds blooming after a recent storm. There was a riot of color. She settled into her chair, and Ory came flying, throwing himself onto Elebet. “Whoa there, brother!” Kaladin was quick and caught the child before he landed hard on Elebet. “Careful. Bet’s tummy is still sore.” “I wanna cuddle my Bet!” Ory squirmed in Kaladin’s grip. “Is it ok? I’d really like a good cuddle.” I’m dirty, she thought. They might not want this innocent child touching me. “I mean, if you’re ok with him touching me.” “Bet. Stop. Ok, brother, but be careful of your Bet’s tummy.” Ory climbed carefully into the roomy chair with Elebet and snuggled up to her side. She put her arm around him and squeezed gently, kissing the top of his curly head. Elebet sighed and closed her eyes. The sun was warm and she felt safe and content for the first time in so long....she couldn’t remember the last time. Kaladin moved through his mother’s garden, checking the plants with a eye for things ready to pick. He gathered whatever was ripe, piling them next to the edge of the garden. He found an unused garden stake, long and smooth as a spear shaft. Ory was quiet, and Elebet was dozing. He began swinging the stake, naturally falling into a kata. It felt good to stretch his muscles. In spite of what he’d said, it had been a while since he slept on a floor. “Why is brudder dancin’ wif a stick?” Ory’s quiet voice made Elebet open her eyes. She watched Kaladin who was unaware of either her or Ory’s attention. Jon, who had been following Kaladin through the garden, joined her and Ory in the chair. Syl had seen him and come down from her lookout duty to form a blue spark flowing with Kaladin’s movements. It was a beautiful dance and Elebet just watched, not answering Ory. Ory was mesmerized and didn’t ask again. Kaladin finished, saw his audience and sheepishly tossed the stake back where he’d found it. Ory climbed out of the chair and ran to him. Kaladin picked him up and tossed him into the air, catching him and swinging him up, “flying” him around like a Windrunner. He circled the yard, swooping Ory up, down, and around until Ory was barely able to breathe for laughing so hard. Laughterspren, little silver minnows, darted around them. They ended up wrestling on the ground, Kaladin letting Oroden pin him on his back. Kaladin picked Ory up over his head, lowering him to pretend gnaw on Ory’s belly. Ory squealed with laughter and when Kaladin lifted him overhead again, he said, “Again! Do it again!” Hesina had come quietly out of the house bringing a cup of tea for Elebet, and sat next to her. Joy spren whirled around her like blue leaves as she watched her sons playing. Syl sat on nothing in the air next to Elebet’s head and smiled a knowing smile. The sun was getting hot as it climbed in the sky, and the boys were exhausted. Kaladin rolled over and stood up, looking at the women as he flipped Oroden over his head and onto his shoulders. Ory grasped two handfuls of hair on top of his brother’s head to hang on. “That was the hardest workout I’ve ever had,” he smiled. “Is it lunchtime yet?” “It will be when it gets fixed,” his mother nodded. Hesina helped Elebet up and into the house. She was going to take her to the infirmary room and bed, but Elebet asked if she could help fix lunch. Hesina stopped and stared at her for a moment. “What do you think, Kal? Should she be up?” “I can sit and peel or slice or do something, can’t I?” Kaladin thought and decided if she felt like it, it was a good sign. “As long as you don’t get hardheaded and overdo.” “Me, hardheaded?” He grimaced at her in reply. The women sat at the table peeling longroot while Kaladin wrangled Oroden. Lirin came in for lunch after doing his morning rounds in town, looking very professional in black trousers, white shirt, and black coat with many pockets for his instruments. He looked taken aback at the sight of a Kholin Princess at his table preparing his lunch. Elebet suddenly realized that she was going to have to move. It was one thing for the women of a family to sit at table together in private with the men, but she was not family. She thought Lirin looked uncomfortable, so she looked at Kaladin, hoping he would notice and offer to help her move quietly, not drawing attention to an awkward situation. Hesina was clearing the table. Kaladin was getting out dishes to set the table with Oroden. Lirin was still staring at her. “I’ll get out of your way, if you’ll excuse me.” She pushed the chair away from the table and stood. Where was she going to go? Back outside? Which way was the infirmary? She was all turned around. It wasn’t that big a place! “No!” Oroden protested. “I wanna sit next to my Bet!” Kaladin set five bowls on the table. “Have a seat, Prin...Bet.” Hesina gave Lirin ‘a look.’ He nodded subtly to her. Lirin moved to the back of Elebet’s chair, ready to push it back in. “Please. Have a seat. I am very happy to see you moving around so well. Remember, one of the requirements to be discharged is a good appetite.” She smiled gratefully at Lirin and sat. She ate quietly, listening to Lirin tell about his morning, and Hesina tell him about their sons’ wild rumpus. When they finished, she started to clear dishes from the table to wash. “No, ma’am. Time for a nap. Son,” Lirin pointed at a door. Kaladin took Elebet by her freehand elbow and guided her to her bed in the infirmary. Oroden of course followed them. “Time for your nap, too, Oroden!” his mother called. “Come here!” Oroden was tired and very young. He immediately began to cry. Hesina called again. He cried harder. Kaladin tried to get him to go to their mother. Oroden got nearly hysterical. His face was wet with huge tears, and his nose was running. Elebet couldn’t stand it anymore. “He could nap with me.” Oroden jumped on the bed, the crying calmed some, but he had worked himself into such a state that he couldn’t quite stop. “Ory, do I need to zurbert you?” “No!” “I think I do.” Elebet pulled up his shirt, put her lips to his tummy and blew. The flubbering noise it produced made him laugh. “Ha! Made you smile! Bonus! Made you laugh! Oh, no! Double bonus! Made you blow snot bubbles!” “Again, Bet, again!” She flubbered his tummy again. “Now, lets wipe your face and take a little nap.” They cuddled and as her fingers traced up and down his arm, he wouldn’t move for fear of her stopping the gentle tickle. She couldn’t see the broad smile on Kal’s face as he left the room. Elebet could hear voices faintly from the kitchen, the faint droning putting both to sleep. When they woke up, they went outside. Elebet was much steadier on her feet. She took Jon to the garden. He touched some of the weaker plants and strengthened them. Oroden followed them for a bit. Then boys played windrunner again, wrestled, and then took turns being a whitespine hunting the other. Elebet sat watching them when she was tired, then went to the kitchen and helped with dinner. At dinner, Oroden pointed to Jon, who was draped over the back of her chair, and said, “Does you funny pwant eat?” “I am NOT a funny plant,” Jon said. “You most certainly are,” Elebet nodded. “But, no Ory, he doesn’t eat.” She noticed Kaladin and Hesina exchange looks, and Lirin’s expression was decidedly unhappy. She decided it was best to change the subject and get Oroden focused on something else. When dinner was over, she helped clear the table and started to wash dishes. Hesina stopped her. “Enough, sweet girl. Go out and enjoy the evening. It’s beautiful out. Oroden! Don’t go far. It’s about bath time.” Elebet wandered out front, facing Hearthstone. There was a little rock sitting area with natural benches with colorful rockbuds blooming. She sat, looking at the distant town with the hills behind it. The sky was clear and the sunset brilliant. She wanted to stay there forever. “There you are. We wondered where you were. You look lost in thought.” Kaladin sat next to her. “Thinking how beautiful this place is, how peaceful. Wondering how you could leave. I know I don’t want to.” He looked across the little valley. He hadn’t seen any beauty there when he was a boy. It almost surprised him when he saw the beauty she saw now. “I have orders. And it isn’t going to be safe here for too long. My father said there are a few Parshendi in charge of Hearthstone, but a Fused comes every week to check on things. We need to be gone before then, soon as you feel like it.” “I know. And I would never get over it if anything happened to your family. But I wish....” “You wish?” “I wish I could stay here. Live here. Help your mom with Ory and her garden and the house.” “You mean like a servant?” He shook his head at the thought of his mother having a high princess as a maid. Elebet laughed. “However they’d take me.” “You don’t want to face your family.” It was a fact, not a question. “Or the others who’ll judge me. I don’t feel judged here.” “You’re a Kholin. You ARE strong. You can do this.” She smiled at him. “And you have your orders.” Kaladin nodded, held his hands out, palms up, “And men to get back to, my job.” “I know, Captain.” She studied his face. “Why did you leave here?” He pulled a rock out of his pocket. “This.” “It’s a rock.” “A very special rock.” He handed it to her. “Get it wet. It turns colors. Here.” He spit a little on it to wet it. She took it, held it in the dying sunlight. “Oh, how gorgeous. Look at these colors! Who would’ve known they were there?” “My brother, Tien.” “Your brother? You have another brother?” “Had.” “Oh, no. Tell me.” For some reason he didn’t understand, Kaladin told her. He had never really told anyone the whole story in detail, but he did now—all of it, Roshone, Amaram, him giving up going to school to be a surgeon and joining the army to protect his brother, Tien’s death, his failure to save him. He talked leaned over, his elbows on his knees, looking at the ground. Elebet strained to hear as he spoke quietly. She moved closer to hear better. When he got to his failure and Tien’s death, she instinctively put her arm over his shoulder to comfort him. She was crying quietly and a tear dropped from her chin to Kaladin’s bare forearm. He jerked his head up, pulling away from her, and she recoiled from him like she was afraid he was going to hit her. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have touched you.” She curled up in a ball, her arms around her knees. “No. No, Elebet.” How could anyone hit this girl? “You’re crying.” He looked at the teardrop on his arm. “I didn’t expect that. I never told anyone all of this. I told your father some of it, but...” “Mama said to come kiss you goodnight!” Oroden’s voice interrupted. Elebet tried to wipe tears away, but Oroden saw them. “Brudder,” His voice was stern. “Did you make my Bet cry?” “No, Ory, he didn’t hurt me. He told me a sad story.” “You made my Bet cry. You needa hug her and make her not cry.” “It’s okay, Ory...” Elebet assured him. “Now, brudder. Mama says you gotta always say you sorry and make them not cry. Hug her. Now.” Even Captain Kaladin couldn’t refuse the order from the tiny tyrant. He and Elebet stood, facing each other awkwardly, but Oroden ordered them again. “He’s very bossy,” Kaladin observed. “Commanding, I’d say.” “Are you okay with it?” Kaladin asked. “I’ll always feel safe in your arms.” Elebet put her arms around his waist, pressing her face into his shoulder, alternating rubbing and patting his back with her freehand, still crying a little. Kaladin wrapped his arms around her, put his mouth close to her ear. “I’m sorry I made you cry.” “I am so sorry for all of you. So sorry you lost your sweet brother. So sorry you feel so responsible. It wasn’t YOUR fault. You gave up everything to protect him. You tried.” “Like you said, in the Alethi mind, trying doesn’t atone for the failure.” “Oroden! Where are you! Kiss them goodnight and come now!” Elebet waved him over. “Quick Ory! Three way hug.” Kaladin picked him up in one arm, and Elebet put an arm around him, too. Oroden kissed them each on the cheek, squirmed to get down, and ran to the house. “There’s more to the story. You were in Amaram’s army. How did you end up with a slave brand?” “It’s another long story.” “Then sit down while you tell it to me.” He did. Elebet sat close to hear him and by the end of his tale had her arm over his shoulders again. “Such terrible things were done to you, but you still saved my family. No wonder you attracted an Honor spren.” She could see Syl high above them, a brighter blue mixed with a small group of windspren, keeping watch. She wanted desperately to hug him again. Kaladin straightened, and she removed her arm. He couldn’t tell her how it made him feel having told her, because he wasn’t sure himself. He didn’t want to admit that her sympathy somehow helped him since she had gone through terrible, unjust things, too. She was a Kholin princess and always would be. He respected her family, but they were Lighteyes. “We better get some sleep. If you are up to it, we should leave tomorrow.” Elebet’s heart dropped. She didn’t dare say anything for fear her voice would break. She could only nod. She swallowed hard a couple of times to get control. “I don’t have any way to repay your parents for what they’ve done for me.” Kaladin laughed. “You’re the first person in years to worry about paying them.” “Made you smile, bonus, made you laugh.” She grinned. “Seriously. What can I do to repay them? And how can people expect your father to take care of them and not pay them? That’s ridiculous!” “You’d think so. Don’t worry about paying them. I’ll leave a considerable pile of dun spheres with them.” “Still....” “Later. Let’s get some rest.” He pulled a couple of dun spheres from his pocket. “How are you feeling?” “Stronger, better.” “Good. A good night’s sleep should have you ready for tomorrow.” He got her into her bed, put a couple more infused spheres on the table beside her, and settled on his pallet on the floor. She drifted off, and wondered how long she’d been asleep when she heard little bare feet coming across the floor. She opened her eyes. The spheres were still glowing softly enough for her to see Oroden crossing the room to her bed. He climbed into bed with her very carefully and quietly. She hugged him to her, kissed his round cheek. In the dimly lit room she could see Kaladin’s eyes gleam in the light. Oroden had waked him, too, she supposed. Mother’s ears, her mother had called them. Or in Kaladin’s case, guardian’s ears. “My Ory, do you know how much your big brother loves you?” “Uh-huh,” he hummed sleepily. “Don’t you think he’d like to cuddle you, too?” “Uh-huh.” He looked over at his brother and climbed out of her bed, going to Kaladin. Kaladin hugged him, kissing his curly hair. Oroden stretched out on Kaladin’s chest, and wrapping their arms around each other, they fell sound asleep. Elebet fell asleep with a smile on her face. The morning light woke all of them. When Kaladin asked Elebet how she felt, she thought for a moment about lying and saying she didn’t feel well. But she couldn’t risk his family any longer, especially when she felt so much better. Tears welled a little in Hesina’s eyes when Kaladin told her they were leaving. Instead of getting weepy on him, she got busy fixing them all a big breakfast while Kaladin washed and shaved, combed his hair, tying it back. Hesina brought Elebet’s clean breeches, shirt, and boots, and found a safehand glove for her. She had practice in getting blood out of clothing. Elebet thanked her and changed. Hesina helped her braid her long blond hair so it wouldn’t be in one knot from the wind when they reached her family. She found leather strapping to tie the blanket around the Honorblade, and wider strapping so her son could get it more comfortably on his back without digging into his shoulders. After eating, Kaladin handed Lirin a pouch of dun spheres. “They’re the smallest ones so hopefully no one in town will be suspicious.” They all went outside for goodbyes. Kaladin hugged his family, promising his parents to be careful. He picked Oroden up and hugged him, holding him while Elebet said thank you. “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me,” she stood a little awkwardly in front of Hesina. She wanted to hug her, and fortunately Hesina felt it and hugged her first. “I am so sorry for the reason, but it has been a blessing to have you and Kaladin here. It has been wonderful for Ory to get to know his brother.” Oroden flopped from Kaladin’s arms into Elebet’s. “I don’ want you to go.” “I don’t want to go, and I bet your brother doesn’t want to either.” She hugged him. “You are a precious boy.” “I not pwecious!” “You are. Do you know what precious means?” “Nooo?” “It means something or somebody extra special that you love a lot.” “You pwecious and brudder pwecious.” “Your brother is very precious. You always remember that.” She gave him back to his mother, and turned to Lirin. What to say to him? She’d hugged the other two. She was keenly aware that Lirin was not comfortable with her, or with his older son’s abilities. “Thank you.” It seemed a good beginning. “Honestly, I didn’t do much. Your ‘funny plant’ and Kal’s spheres did most of the work. You promise to go to your father’s surgeons soon as you get where you’re going.” “Then thank you for your son.” Lirin straightened a little. “My brothers wrote me that he saved them and thousands of my father’s men. And now he’s risked his life to save me. You should be very proud.” To her shock, Lirin hugged her. “I know you said you won’t leave, but if you change your mind...” Kaladin began. “I can’t leave these people, son.” “And I won’t leave your father,” Hesina added. “But if you change your minds,” Elebet said, “my father will always have a place for you. And when Roshar calms down, we can visit.” “Do you think it will ever be normal again?” Hesina frowned. “It isn’t that bad here. Yet. But who knows?” “It has to be normal again. If it isn’t, what are we doing? We have to have hope.” Hesina hugged her again, “You have hope? Then I do, too.” Kal and Bet each hugged Oroden one more time and walked away from Hearthstone, as close to cover as possible, just in case. Elebet had an energetic walk, and Kaladin was happy she could keep up with him. “We’ll walk far enough away to not risk drawing any screamers or Fused. Then we’ll fly. You tell me if you need to rest.” “I’m fine. I am NOT looking forward to flying.” “I know. For more than one reason.” He walked a bit, quietly, thinking. “I appreciate what you said to my father, but the ones that lived, do they make up for the ones that didn’t?” “Aren’t some living better than all dead?” “I suppose, thinking of it that way.” “You can’t keep beating yourself up. You can’t save everybody, no matter how hard you try.” His voice became so quiet she could barely hear him. “And if I didn’t try?” “What? You not try?” “No. I froze.” “I don’t understand.” “When Kholinar was under siege, King Elokar, Adolin, Shallan, a few of my best men and I went to try to get the queen and their son out. The Parshendi attacked before we got them. We were in the palace when they came in, Moash—Vyre— with them. I knew the Parshendi fighters. I had traveled with them.” “You helped them somehow.” “I did,” he nodded. “How did you know?” She just pointed at him. “They were good people. Families. What was it your mother said? About good and bad having nothing to do with eye, hair or skin color? She was right.” “So the battle ended up being your friends killing your friends.” He looked at her, nodding. She understood? “It did. They were. All I could do was yell at them to stop.” “And they didn’t.” “No. And because I froze, almost all of them died. Because I froze, Moash killed Elokar. Because I froze, Moash......hurt you.” Elebet walked, letting what he’d told her sink in. His voice was earnest, “I don’t even know how to tell you how sorry I am, how to ask for your forgiveness .” “There’s nothing for me to forgive. If you hadn’t frozen, what would you have done? Kill your friends? Which friends?” “I could have at least killed Moash, saved Elokar, saved you.” “You told me he was your best friend.” “Once. I thought he was.” “And if you HAD killed him, would someone else have killed Elokar?” It was Kaladin’s turn to walk and think. “Who knows?” “Exactly. Who knows. Probably? Maybe?” He looked at her again. “And I’ve already said they’d have only given me to somebody else as a reward, or as bait when they found me.” “Where were you?” “In the palace prison.” “Prison? Storms, Elebet! Why?” “The queen had gone crazy, holding orgies while people starved. I had an ardent friend who was trying to help feed people. She protested loudly and the queen executed her. When I protested, I guess she was too afraid of my family, or wanted a hostage, so she threw me in prison to keep me quiet and out of the public eye.” “We’ve both been through terrible things. It’s a wonder we’re sane.” She laughed. He looked at her, the amazement plain on his face. “Maybe we aren’t. I think that’s what attracts these things.” She pointed to Syl zipping around them and Jon trailing along, leaving vines that disappeared into dust. “But we should be better now. We’ve been getting hugs.” “Hugs make you sane?” “My mother said you need five hugs a day for good mental health. Ory has been making us well.” “Your mother was full of words of wisdom, wasn’t she?” “Yes. I’ll teach you her silly poems, too, if you like.” “No, thanks. That’s ok.” He smiled. “Made you smile.” She smiled back. “Don’t you feel better after hugging your brother?” “I do. Now,” he stopped, “I think we are far enough away to take to the sky. Hang on to her, Jon.” Jon clung around her waist. “I was hoping we could just walk the whole way.” “I was going to take you straight to Urithiru, but I’ve got a different idea.... Your face is healing well, the swelling, bruising much less, the cut lip nearly healed. But the brand isn’t healing at all. I’ll take you to the Shattered Plains Oathgate, get Renarin there to see if he can heal you so no one will know... But we have to go a longer route there to avoid Fused. Sorry.” “Renarin? He can heal me?” “Maybe. He’s a Radiant, too. One of his powers is regeneration. If wounds aren’t too old, he can heal them. It’s worth a chance.” “Yes.... A longer trip? Falling?” “It won’t be so bad. Just close your eyes. If it makes you feel better, I can use adhesion and stick you to me. If it makes you feel more secure.” “I did say I’ll always feel safe in your arms. Please don’t make me regret those words. Do you have enough spheres? I was draining a lot of them.” “I kept a couple small ones near you to heal, but not big ones to draw screamer attention. I have plenty for our trip. I think.” Her eyes got big. “Just kidding,” he said. “Not funny! I take falling very seriously!” “I do, too.” With that, he drew in Stormlight, took her in his arms, adhering her to himself, and fell into the sky. Chapter III. THE SHATTERED PLAINS Elebet’s cheek was pressed—and firmly stuck—to Kaladin’s chest. Every part of her that touched him was stuck to him. She might have liked it if it weren’t for the sickening feeling of falling. She felt the lurch when he shifted gravity so the up became down for them. She heard him tell Syl to double check the area for screamers and Fused, but not so much as words from his mouth as rumble from his chest. She tried opening her eyes. It was a mistake. She gripped him harder, if that was possible. They were still going what was normally up, and the ground was receding rapidly. Then she felt him shift direction again, still getting farther from the ground, but moving in a direction she assumed was their circuitous route to the Shattered Plains. The falling sensation lasted so long that it almost became mesmerizing, surprising that they weren’t hitting bottom, and she tried to relax. She held on tight, adhered to him or not, but she tried to crush the feeling of abject panic that had her heart hammering in her chest. Kaladin was watching the sky for danger, Syl ranging around them like a hunting axhound to help him determine if they’d been spotted. He could feel the girl’s heart thumping against him. He tried to keep his arms around her to make her feel safe, but that hindered his maneuverability. If they were attacked, it would not go well. He would have to float her free of him so he could fight, but that would leave her defenseless. Storms, he should have given her some kind of weapon. Jon would be no help. He was glad and thanked his mother mentally for braiding Elebet’s hair so it wasn’t in his face. He lashed them away from both the Plains and Urithiru for a while. He hoped that would keep them out of the path of any searching for Elebet. He wondered what the Fused reactions were if or when they had caught up to the Ryshadium. If they had, and he was sure they had—the horses were remarkably fast, but not as fast as a flying Fused—they would be ranging in a wider search. After a few hours, it occurred to Kaladin that Elebet couldn’t draw Stormlight yet, and she was probably exhausted, hungry and thirsty. He changed to half lashes up and down to stop them so they could talk above the wind. They were at an altitude that made the ground below look unreal, but not so high as to be cold or have trouble breathing. As they stopped, he asked, “You okay there? We can stop so you can eat and drink, rest a little.” Muffled against his chest with her cheek still stuck to him, she said “If we are anywhere near, let’s keep going.” “Have you opened your eyes to see how beautiful this is?” “No.” “Try. It really is a different view of the world. It’s what the Stormfather sees.” She let her eyes open slowly. Her vision took a second to adjust. He had her turned away from the sunlight so she could see better. They were so far up that it didn’t look real. Without the sensation of falling, she could look. “Oh, Kaladin. It’s beautiful. Beyond beautiful. Too high up, but spectacular.” She squeezed him in a stuck hug. “Thank you for making me look.” He laughed, his chest rumbling in her ear. “Like anyone can make you do something you don’t really want to do that easily, Princess.” “Made you smile, bonus, made you laugh. I think. I can’t see the smile. I’m happy that you see the beauty up here. Now warn me when we start falling again, please.” “Warning given.” And he lashed them toward the Plains after checking with Syl that they were still alone in the sky, In a couple of more hours, they were over the Plains. It would have taken days, maybe weeks, to have traveled over land. Kaladin thanked the Stormfather for getting them there without incident. He half lashed them to a stop again. “You may like this view, too. See the pattern? Shallan noticed it from the ground.” “My sister-in-law? Knew there was this pattern from the ground?” “Yes. She is a Radiant, and sees patterns.” He explained briefly about Shallan lightweaving, creating disguises. “If Renarin can’t heal you, maybe she can cover the slave brand for you. No one will have to know, Ele-Princess. Storms. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten used to calling you by your name.” Elebet sighed against his chest. “I prefer my name. Not Princess.” “Inappropriate, especially when we get you back to your family. When we get to the Oathgate, there should be one or two of my men there. They can be trusted. If I tell them to keep what they see to themselves, they will. There’s a spanreed at each gate. We can send for Renarin, see what he can do, then Shallan.” Elebet didn’t say anything, which surprised him. “Ready?” “As I will ever be, I suppose.” Kaladin lashed them to the rocky ground in front of the Oathgate , setting down lightly, releasing the girl and her spren to the ground. Elebet was unsteady on her feet after so long in the air with no food or water. Kaladin steadied her to a bench, Jon still wrapped at her waist. He looked to see who was on duty. Lopen. The Lopen. Storms. Well, he trusted him, didn’t he? Lopen snapped to attention for half a second, then came quickly to greet Kaladin. He gave Kaladin a closed fist, cross wristed salute and said “Bridge Four,” which Kaladin returned. “Lopen, this is Princess Elebet Kholin. You are NOT to EVER address her as Brightness. Princess only. Understood?” “Yes, Gon.” “Princess, this is the used-to-be-one-armed Herdazian, Lopen.” “Used to be...? Pleased to meet you, Lopen.” “THE Lopen. Pleased to meet you, too, Princess. We’ve been worried, Gon. You were gone longer than we thought.” He was talking to Kal, but staring at Elebet’s forehead and her slave brand. “We’re here now. And you are never to tell anyone or discuss in any way what you see or what is about to happen here.” “Ok, Gon, I—“ “No questions now. Get the spanreed. And have you got any food and water for the Princess.?” “Yes, Gon, to both.” Lopen handed Kaladin the spanreed, and quickly brought Elebet chouta and water. “Sorry, Br-Princess, but it’s men’s food. The Lopen was not expecting you.” “Thank you, Lopen. This is just fine. It’s too much for me, though. Just a little,” she didn’t want to eat all of his food. “Small bites, he likes it spicy,” Kaladin warned. It was too spicy for her, but she did take small bites followed by a sip of water, and ate hungrily. The Lopen loved that she appeared to relish his chouta. Kaladin wrote glyphs saying he needed Renarin at the Oathgate, and activated the ruby on it. It took a few minutes for the reply saying whoever was on the other end would send for Renarin. More minutes passed, and the Oathgate flashed as it was activated from Urithiru. Elebet took Kaladin’s hand to pull herself to stand. He reached to help her, steadying her, holding her freehand elbow. As people poured from the Oathgate, she unconsciously took a half step behind Kaladin. She didn’t know most of them. The first through were three strange men, one a large Horneater. Next was her father, looking much older than she remembered, followed by her Aunt Navani and two young men who she was sure were her brothers, no longer boys, but men. Adolin had changed the least. Renarin looked more mature than she’d expected. Her cousin Jasnah was the last she recognized. There was a beautiful red headed girl. Shallan, maybe? And there were three more men she’d never seen after them. She gripped Kaladin’s hand a little tighter. “I thought you were just sending for Renarin.” He answered her very quietly, “I did. I should have known a message from me for him would set off a panic in the family. And the men are my men, their security escort. You can trust them.” Elebet squared her shoulders and stepped from behind Kaladin, releasing his hand. The dozen newcomers fanned out, family in the center, Dalinar a few steps in front. Everything was quiet, everyone was staring. Elebet was very aware of her slave brand and her gloved safehand. Would her family accept her or reject her as tainted? She waited. She looked from face to face, saw shock and dismay on the faces of her family, and a knowing sadness on the faces of the soldiers. Dalinar slowly stepped forward, holding his arms out, tears welling in his eyes. “Daddy?” Kaladin registered a little shock at the word. Dalinar was “daddy.” Dalinar broke down at the word, stepping quickly to Elebet, taking her in his arms in tears. Kaladin stepped back a bit. He still felt that she was his charge until he had made his report to Dalinar on the mission, and until he had taken the girl to the surgeons as his father had told him. But he would not get in the way now. He could just hear Dalinar telling Elebet how sorry he was and asking for her forgiveness. Elebet was crying. “You don’t hate me?” “Oh, my precious, precious girl. Of course I don’t hate you. I couldn’t look at you without seeing your mother. I couldn’t bear it. And you are her very image.” “Hate me for....this.....on my forehead....for....what they..... did....” she couldn’t finish saying it. “How could I? Do you forgive ME?” “Why do you and Kaladin—Captain Kaladin—blame yourselves for what other men do?” “My baby girl. So like your mother.” Kaladin unstrapped the Honorblade from his back, ready to hand it over to Dalinar. They held each other long enough that Kaladin felt the need to speak. “Excuse me, sir, but...” and to his utter amazement, Dalinar released his daughter and gripped him by the upper arms. “Thank you, son, for bringing my girl back to me.” And then he hugged Kaladin, pounding him on the back. Kaladin was was speechless, almost forgetting what he was going to say. “Sir, we need to see if Renarin can help her.” He held out the Honorblade, which Dalinar accepted. “And your daughter killed the man this belonged to.” “I’ll get your full report later. Tell Renarin what she needs.” By this time, Adolin and Renarin were hugging their sister, and the women were crowding around her. Adolin introduced Shallan, who hugged her warmly. “Welcome home, sister.” She hugged her back. “Kaladin told me a little about you.” Shallan smiled at her, “Oh, no. Don’t believe anything he said about me!” “Why? He only said nice things. He said I’d love you.” Shallan laughed, “Love me to do what? Leap off a cliff?” “Your cousin is now queen,” Adolin informed her. “Your majesty,” Elebet bowed to Jasnah. “Stop that! Come here and hug me.” Jasnah hugged her, but it was a stiff, held back, don’t really touch hug. But that was Jasnah. Elebet turned to her aunt. She had never been nice to her mother. Elebet had never liked her because of it. Adolin had always loved her in spite of it, but Elebet saw the pain it had caused their mother. Navani knew this, and didn’t hug her. “Your father has been frantic. We are so happy Captain Kaladin has brought you back to us.” Navani wondered if Elebet knew she had married her father, but she didn't bring it up now. “Thank you, Aunt Navani.” “Renarin,” Kaladin called. “Yes, sir?” Kaladin sighed. It made him uncomfortable for Renarin to answer him that way, especially in front of Dalinar. He talked to him quietly, explaining what he needed Renarin to heal for his sister. There were still plenty of infused spheres for Renarin to use. They just needed to get Elebet away from the crowd to let her brother work. He turned back to Dalinar. “Sir, we need to let Renarin try to heal Elebet. If he is able.“ “Right, son. Everyone, let Remarin through.” Everyone stepped back and Renarin drew in Stormlight. Jon was still entwined like an elaborate belt around Elebet’s waist, and he didn’t move. Renarin touched Elebet’s face. The nearly healed cut and bruising didn’t change. The slave brand stayed red on her forehead. Renarin moved his hands to her abdomen. After a few moments, he looked into his sister’s eyes, and sadly shook his head. He turned to Kaladin, “sorry, sir. The wounds are all too old for me to heal them.” Kaladin put his hand on Renarin’s shoulder. “Thank you for trying. I was afraid of this.” “I could Lightweave and cover the scar,” Shallan offered. Kaladin looked at Elebet, “It’d only be temporary. The scar would reappear when the Stormlight wears off. But it would cover it in public.” Elebet was exhausted and overwhelmed. She couldn’t respond to any of what was being said to her. All she could do was look at Kaladin and shake her head no. It all felt wrong to her and she didn’t know why. She wished they were riding their horses. She wished they were in Hearthstone. She wished they were walking somewhere. She wished they were falling through the sky. She wished all the people pressing around her were gone, except for Kaladin, who assumed her lack of response was terrible disappointment, and he cursed himself for getting her hopes up that the scar could be healed. She has been through too much, he thought, and this is the last blow she can handle. He turned to Dalinar. “Sir, may we go to Urithiru? My father told me to get her to your surgeons. I will give you a complete report later, but I don’t feel that I have completed my mission for you until she is taken care of.” Dalinar nodded and ordered everyone back into the Oathgate. Elebet started to follow them and stopped. “Ka-ptain, the horses.” “Lopen, if two Ryshadium show up, send for the Princess or for me. Leave word with all who replace you.” “Yes, Gon.” Elebet then followed the others into the Oathgate, and stood transfixed by the elaborate room, turning slowly, trying to take in everything. Her new sister nodded approvingly, “Sis, we’re going to get along fine. I’ll bring you back to study it all. Pattern” she pointed to her spren on her skirt, “will be more than happy to spend a day here.” Pattern was barely visible, forming a design on her skirt. He and Jon waved odd, mismatched hands at each other. Kaladin was worried. The Princess wasn’t talking or smiling. He was next to her, hand on her elbow, and he could feel the tension in her. He didn’t know the gratitude she felt that he was there, surrounded by strange men and family that were nearly strangers after so many years. He only felt guilt for her situation, for disappointing her now. He held hope for her becoming an Edgedancer and healing, but that wasn’t helping at the moment. He leaned down to her and said quietly, “When we get there, I can fly you to the surgery. You won’t have to walk through the city.” The smile she gave him was weak, but a good sign to him. She shook her head. “I need to walk through the city. I am the daughter of Dalinar Kholin. I can do this.” The smile she got in return was genuine and shone in his dark eyes. Jon smiled at her waist, “So close, my dear girl, so close.” “We ARE going to get along,” Shallan had seen Kaladin’s smile. “How did you get the King of Scowls to smile like that?” “By doing what I was told.” He shook his head. “Hardly. Following a suggestion, maybe. I know better than to expect either of you ladies to do what you’re told.” The Lopen activated the Oathgate, and with a flash of Stormlight, they were in Urithiru. Chapter IV. URITHIRU When they exited the Oathgate in Urithiru, Elebet gasped at her first sight of the towering city. “Impressive, isn’t it?” her father said at her side. “Beyond anything I could imagine. And Shallan found it?” “She figured out where the Oathgate was and how to operate it,” Adolin bragged. “She and the Bridgeboy there have both saved our army.” “Son. Enough with the Bridgeboy comments.” “Yes, sir.” They formed a procession without formal organization. The big Horneater, Rock Kaladin had called him, and two others of his men led the way, followed by Navani and the queen, then Elebet flanked by Kaladin and Dalinar, with Adolin, Shallan and Renarin behind them, trailed by the last three of the Bridge Four guards. Elebet patted Kaladin’s hand on her arm, pressed it, and motioned with a nod for him to let her arm go. She squared her shoulders, held her head high, and walked as regally as any queen. There was no avoiding people, or avoiding the eyes on her. She kept her face impassive, tried to walk with confidence and power. Kaladin kept one eye on her. He hoped her father was proud of her. The surgery had been set up on one side of the ground level of the tower. As they entered a narrower hall, they had to go two by two. Kaladin and Elebet were again side by side. She was looking at the rock walls with their varying lines of color. “Kaladin. Look at this.” She ran her hand along the stone. “Tien would have loved this, wouldn’t he?” Kal smiled down at her. She was maybe the only other person on Roshar besides his parents and himself who would have thought of Tien, a boy she’d never met, just looking at colored rock. “Storms, what have you done to the Bridge—um, Captain, Sis?” Adolin asked. “I’ve seen him smile more in the last hour than I have in all the time I’ve known him.” Storms is right, Kaladin thought. I need to get a grip on myself. She’s the daughter of Dalinar storming Kholin. When they arrived at the surgery, Kaladin naturally took charge. He was technically the attending surgeon in his father’s abscence, so he took Elebet in and asked everyone else to wait outside. He asked for a surgeon or ardent who specialized in midwifery as well as a general surgeon. While Elebet was taken into a room to be prepared for examination by the surgeons, Kaladin explained to them what had happened and told them his father’s diagnosis. The midwife was an older woman, Ardent Malata, who Kaladin had no experience with, but surgeon Palmeri was Dalinar’s chief of surgery, who had an impeccable reputation. When they went to examine Elebet, Kaladin went to report to her father. His stomach churned. How was he going to tell the girl’s father what he had seen? It had been difficult enough telling the old ardent and the surgeon. “Sir,” he addressed Dalinar, “you and I should probably speak privately.” He thought a moment, “and someplace you can sit.” There was a small waiting area across the hall, and the whole family followed them in. Dalinar didn’t object, so neither could Kaladin. The Bridge Four guards all remained outside, with Rock at the door. They all sat, but Kaladin stood straight and tall, looking at the far wall, looking none of them in the eye. “This is not a report I want to give you, sir.” “I know, son, and I can guess too much of it.” “I found her in the stable yard, just as Prince Adolin said I would.” He made the report, leaving out no details, noting the bruising and swelling were much worse than now, and there was bruising all over her. When he got to the part where he stopped the five men attacking her, he began pacing a little. Adolin stood and paced, too. Kaladin stopped and faced his commander. Dalinar’s fists were clinching and unclenching, almost like he was calling and dismissing a shardblade. Tears had formed in his eyes. Navani was hugging his arm with one hand and wiping tears from her face with the other. “It was obviously not the first time,” he said. “I haven’t asked her how many times. But I heard them say she fought like a whitespine EVERY time. Moash had an Honorblade and was calling it to fight me when she killed him.” “SHE killed him?” Navani was the one who doubted. “Yes, Brightness. She used a carving knife left by the fire. And she killed a second man, too. Said she used a move Adolin taught her when they were children.” “Moash. He’s the one who killed my son?” “Yes, Brightness. And she probably saved us both. If Moash had gotten his blade, I may have had to draw Stormlight, and that would have drawn the Fused. We may not have gotten out.” Kaladin finished his report, leaving out details about his family other than their care of Elebet. He included information about Hearthstone, the Parshendi governing the town with Fused supervision. Dalinar swallowed hard, getting control of his voice. “Thank you, son. I know I asked a great deal of you to retrieve Elebet, and I know this was a difficult report for you to give. Not what any family wants to hear. But we need to know what your father thought that he wanted her to see my surgeons.” “I would rather your surgeons give their report first to confirm or deny his diagnosis, Sir.” “I understand.” Dalinar thought for a minute, “We may need to send you back at some point to keep current on the situation and conditions in Kholinar and the surrounding towns. Navani and Jasnah have been working on a new spanreed that won’t draw enough power to attract screamers. Having some spread throughout the region would be helpful.” “Yes, Sir.” Through the door, they saw the surgeon and ardent leave the examination room. Adolin and Renarin didn’t wait for permission. They bounded across the hall and into the room, closely followed by Shallan. Malata and Palmeri walked past them, and disappeared into another room. Kaladin followed them down the hall, knocked but didn’t wait for an answer and went in. The two looked up from their conversation and motioned for him to join them. “I am afraid we concur with your father,” Palmeri said sadly. “Not what we had hoped.” “Not at all,” Malata agreed. “Very sad for the poor girl.” “Please tell me you haven’t told her yet,” Kaladin almost felt panic. “No, we thought we should tell her father first.” “As the original attending surgeon, I would like to be with her when you tell her.” “Yes,” Malata agreed. “I suppose so.” “Let’s ask her about that. She may not want me. We’ll do what she wants.” Kaladin walked back to the examination room, tapped on the door, and heard Adolin invite him in. Her brothers and new sister-in-law surrounded her bed. Elebet looked pale and tired, dressed in a surgery gown. Jon was curled on the pillow around her head like a bejeweled green halo. When she saw Kaladin, her face lit like a chasmfiend gemheart. He was very careful to keep a pleasant expression even though his chest ached for some reason. “Well Bridgeboy, her face didn’t light up like that when I came in. What do you think, Shallan?” Adolin teased. “No, it didn’t. Hmmm? And she makes him smile, too.” “Ady, it’s not your fault you aren’t as handsome as the Captain,” Elebet teased back. “See, Princeling? Somebody thinks I’m more handsome than you.” “But I’m her brother. I guess if she thought I was more handsome, it’d be kind of creepy.” “What’s with this calling each other ‘Bridgeboy’ and ‘Princeling’? What happened to ‘inappropriate,’ Captain?” “We say it with affection, or so your brother claims.” “We do. I do. Don’t you?” “Of course.” Adolin waved his arm at Kaladin. “He thought I was just looking at fashion books all day when we were in Kholinar. I was looking for you in the stable yard.” “I still think you spent most of your time studying your tailor’s catalogs.” There was a tap at the door and without invitation, Malata came in. Her face was serious, “If you will excuse us, I need to talk to the patient.” The three walked to the door, but Kaladin stayed. Adolin turned when he missed him, “Bridgeboy?” “Attending surgeon,” then he looked at Elebet, “with your permission, I’d like to stay.” “I need you to.” “Close the door on your way out, Princeling.” “Still giving me orders,” Adolin said as he closed the door. Ardent Malata was well into her sixties. Her hair was gray, about a finger’s width long and stood straight out all over her head. Her face was creased and deeply lined, with gray eyes that had no warmth in them. Kaladin pitied the baby that had her face as their first view of the world. She stood beside the bed. When he sat in a chair beside the bed, Elebet reached her freehand out to him slightly, not demanding, just asking. He took it and squeezed it reassuringly. “Brightness...” “Princess. Never call her Brightness.” Malata gave him a nasty look. “Princess, I am afraid that Surgeon Palmeri and I agree on our diagnosis. Though you appear to be healing well from being beaten, the damage to your reproductive organs has been severe, and we do not think you will ever be able to have children. We also agree that you probably lost a pregnancy due to being beaten, and was the reason for the blood loss that Captain Kaladin reported and you confirmed.” Elebet was quiet for a moment, her fingers squeezing Kaladin’s a little harder. “This is what your father thought, too, isn’t it?” “Yes, but say the words, Elebet, and you WILL heal.” “What words?” Malata frowned at them. “Words won’t change what was done to this poor girl. Even if she could have children, she shouldn’t. Shouldn’t ever marry. You can be an ardent, dear, and...” “I don’t want to be an ardent.” Kaladin stood, facing Malata, the anger plain on his face. “What do you mean she shouldn’t get married and have children?” Malata lifted her chin, literally looked down her nose at Elebet. “You know what happened, Captain. She’s damaged. No self respecting man will have her.” “How dare you? Out, old woman. Get out now, before I....” Kaladin almost reached across the bed to choke her. She scuttled out, making little shrieking noises. “Ignore that old fool. I promise you, if you say the words, you will be fine, have all the babies you want.” He stopped and looked at Elebet. Her eyes had welled with tears, but they didn’t fall. “She didn’t say anything I didn’t already know. I’m not stupid. I knew before we left Kholinar what people would think. And I knew in Hearthstone I had probably lost a baby. I knew.” “You knew and came with me anyway. And you walked into this city like a queen. You wouldn’t let Shallan hide the scar on your face. Why? Not everyone needed to know.” “I don’t exactly know. It just felt wrong. I guess....I guess what happened to me is part of who I am now.” “But it’s not who you are.” “No. Not all of who I am, but part of who I am. My experience.” “Don’t let that old woman...” “You keep telling me to say the words. But have you noticed? We don’t say one word. None of us. Not me. Not you. Not even the surgeons.” “I didn’t want to upset you.” “No one does. But you heard Ardent Malata. I’m judged whether I hear the word and am upset or not.” She looked up at Kaladin. “I was raped. I was raped by five men. By five men so many times, I don’t even know how many times.” Two huge tears rolled down her cheeks. Kaladin kelt beside the bed and took her hand again. “I don’t know what to do for you. To help you.” She smiled a small, sweet smile. “You help me by not judging me like the others. By giving me a hug. By letting me hug sweet little Ory, like I’m not too dirty to touch him.” “Bet. You’re not...” He stopped. He thought his voice would break if he continued. He swallowed hard. “The women in Kholinar didn’t judge you, let you touch their children.” “Women in a conquered city. They had the same happen to them. And I was helping feed them and their children.” She squeezed his hand. “Vyre—Moash?— branded me to make sure the world knew, in case I ever did get away. I won’t let him win.” She looked Kaladin in the eyes. “Hiding the brand, denying it, would be denying myself. I can’t pretend I was never raped. But I won’t let it stop me from being me, living my life.” Jon wrapped leafy arms around her face, kissed her cheek. “My sweet girl, ‘journey before destination.’ These words are accepted.” Kaladin might have taken her in his arms then, but the door burst open and Navani swept into the room, followed by Dalinar and the rest of the family. She dropped onto the side of the bed and embraced Elebet. “That horrible old woman just told us what she said to you. She wanted the Captain punished for threatening her. Your father told her she could leave the city if she wanted.” She held Elebet out to arms length. “The Captain said you killed the man who killed my son.” And she hugged her again. “Thank you.” She rubbed her hands up and down Elebet’s back. “Dear, dear, you are so thin. We have to get some meat on those bones.” “Say, Sis, was Bridgeboy proposing?” Adolin tilted his head to one side. Kaladin had tried to get up and remove his hand as discretely as possible, but too late. She was a Kholin princess. He had brought her home to her family as requested by her father, had the surgeons tend her as his father had instructed. She was in her family’s hands. As they surrounded her, they all seemed to welcome her in spite of the brand and rape. The word sickened him, but she was right. And his job was done. “Sir, if there’s nothing else, I need to get back to my men.” “Of course. Thank you again, son, for bringing her back to us.” “Sir.” He walked out, but he inwardly fled the room. Chapter V. LADY WHITESPINE The first thing Elebet did when the family and their entourage of guards got them to the family quarters was take a hot bath. She felt clean—on the outside, anyway—for the first time in many months. Navani and Shallan fussed around her, finding clothes to fit her, making sure her room was ready, ordering food to brought for her. Navani had a silk havah of Kholin blue laid out for her. She would have preferred something in simple material, but she didn’t refuse the silk. She hated that the sleeve was long and covered her safehand. She missed a glove already. And the women’s food tasted sickeningly sweet. She’d get used to it again. Her room had a huge window and small balcony overlooking the mountains with a dizzying, breathtaking view. It was sparsely furnished, like all of the family quarters, very typical of her father, but comfortable. She wasn’t completely surprised to learn that Navani and her father had married. She was maybe even a little glad. At least she wasn’t the first shocking member of the family—a man marrying his widowed sister-in-law was unheard of. Navani had never been able to mother Jasnah like she wanted, had lost her son, and she took over care for Elebet almost desperately. Elebet had never liked her, but she saw that things between them had changed now, and why. She understood as an adult now, instead of as a child. She loved Shallan like a sister almost immediately. Shallan was so perfect for her brother. And she and Shallan had their love of nature in common. It turned out Shallan had drawn the picture of her mother for Kaladin to use. She had impressive talent. After a single day of “resting,” she was restless and wanted to be outside. Kaladin had been in once to report to her father, spoken politely and asked how she was. He obviously didn’t want a long answer as he kept moving as he asked. She asked how he was, too, but he only nodded. She called after him to ask about the horses. He looked over his shoulder to say they’d tell her when there was news. He looked so handsome with his beard shaved, hair neatly combed, in his crisp blue uniform. When she saw him, she felt her heart beat a little harder. When he left, the room full of family felt empty. She needed to get out. She needed a purpose. On her second morning at breakfast with the women, she asked what she could do. Where did they need help? Jasnah had an answer. “We have refugees pouring in every day. We need to house and feed them, find them jobs. You could help with that.” “That’s perfect.” “I’ll put you with the ardents in charge.” “Thank you. And may I ask a favor?” “You may ask.” “I wasn’t here to thank Bridge Four for saving my father and brothers. With your permission, I’d like to do something for them, to thank them. And something to thank Captain Kaladin.” “That would be fine, not too extravagant. What did you have in mind?” “I have to think about it. Any ideas?” She looked at Shallan and Navani, too. Navani thought a moment, “Why don’t you ask your father for a suggestion?” “Do you think he has time to talk to me?” Navani got up from the table. “He absolutely does. Come with me.” Dalinar had long ago finished eating and was at a table studying a map. He looked up when Navani spoke. “Elebet has a favor and a question to ask you.” When her father smiled at her, Elebet nearly cried. It was a thing she’d never thought she’d see. “Sit down, Bet, and talk to me. Favor and question?” He looked her in the eye. She saw the smile in his eyes, a happy light, and she smiled back as she sat. “Daddy..... am I too old to call you that now?” “No. Is that the question?” She giggled a nervous giggle. “No, sir. I want to do something to thank Bridge Four for saving you and Ady and Reny, and something for Captain Kaladin for risking his life to get me out of Kholinar. Any ideas?” Dalinar leaned back in his chair. “Well, as an old soldier, I know two of a soldier’s favorite things are food and drink.” “So a special dinner? And the Captain?” Dalinar scratched an ear. “Hmm. That’s a tough one.” He stretched his arms behind his head, looked up for a few minutes. “Anything you do for his men will make him happy.” “What about his parents, for taking care of me.... I know he hated leaving them behind under Parshendi occupation, but they refused to leave the people who might need them.” “Sound like anybody you met recently?” She giggled again, but not from nerves this time. “Most definitely. He left them some dun spheres, but I wanted something from me. From us. I don’t know how we’d get anything to them.” She looked dejected. He sat back up, “I may have your answer. I have already told the Captain that I need him to take new spanreeds into the area, ones Navani and Jasnah have been working on that would be safe to use. You can give him a pair to keep one here and give one to his parents.” Elebet jumped from her chair and hugged her father, kissing his cheek, “That’s perfect! They can let each other know they are fine, or need help, or just say they love each other. Perfect!” Dalinar hugged and kissed her, too, “You are so like your mother, in every way.” “Can you arrange for Bridge Four to be off duty for a dinner together?” “I can. And you can go to the quartermaster and arrange for your feast. Let me talk to the Captain to get a day arranged first.” “Yes, sir. But don’t tell him about the spanreed, please. I want that to be a surprise.” “So Evi of you.” She thanked him three times, hugging him again. If she’d been a little girl, she would have skipped back to the women. She already had an idea for a small gift for Oroden. She needed to find a toy maker. Surely there was one in this huge place. “Navani, you were right. He had the answers. Now all I need is a toy maker. And something to pay for a toy.” She bit her lip. Shallan looked at her, her face deadpan. “Are the toys for Bridge Four or the Bridgeboy? Something to make him less grumpy, I hope.” Elebet laughed at her. “No, for Kala—the Captain’s little brother. Do you know why he’s so grumpy? I do. He could be a lot worse than grumpy. So. Toy maker?” “This should be more than enough for anything you need.” Navani handed her a small emerald sphere. “You’ll need to go to the market to find a toy maker,” Shallan said. Navani nodded, “But you’re going to need an escort. And you’re going to need to be prepared.” Elebet sighed. “I know. Malata was only the beginning.” “A trick your cousin taught me,” Shallan pointed at Jasnah, “is to project what you want them to see. Believe you are, and so will they.” “And what do I believe?” Navani held up her freehand, then went to her room and came out with a beautiful leather belt and gem encrusted scabbard. The knife in the scabbard had a Whitespine tusk for the hilt. Navani pulled the blade from the scabbard. It was a little longer than a carving knife, slightly curved in the opposite direction to match the curve of the tusk hilt, and sharpened on both sides of the blade. The tip came to a needle point. “We had this made for you. The armorer worked all day and into the night. And no Whitespine was injured in making the hilt.” She smiled and winked. “Shallan’s idea.” Elebet accepted the gift, looking at it, sliding the blade in and out of the scabbard once. “He told you.” “His report to your father was very detailed. I am sorry if you didn’t want us to know.” Navani put her hand on Elebet’s shoulder. “But we knew already, really. This was just a detail.” “A detail you can use,” Shallan said. “BE the Whitespine if you need to.” “You know...about the rapes.....and you still...” “Are your family? We are.” Elebet hugged them both. “Thank you. I hope I don’t have to be the Whitespine, but I will if I have to.” “We’re your family, but not everyone is. Remember that. Be safe.” Shallan warned. Elebet had chosen a simple homespun havah in a pale blue. She buckled the knife low on her left hip, the other side of the belt higher at her waist. She wished she had a glove instead of a sleeve. “Thank you. How do I look?” “Honestly, not like a Whitespine. But we aren’t attacking you.” Shallan hugged her. “Now, let’s see who we have for escorts today and go toy shopping.” Navani said she would talk to the ardent in charge of the refugees while they were gone, and Elebet could spend the afternoon with him. Shallan led her to the door and opened it to find their guards for the day to escort them to the market. Elebet was pleased that she recognized both. One was The Lopen who had shared his chouta at the Shattered Plains. The other was the big Horneater. They were dressed neatly, but neither was dressed in a Kholin uniform. “Rock? You don’t usually do guard duty. And no uniforms.” Shallan was surprised. “We are dressed as Captain told us. I volunteered to guard my princess. I fight for my captain. I will fight for my princess, too.” “Rock? I’m Elebet. You can call me Elebet. You, too, Lopen.” “Oh, no, Princess. We have orders. We were warned you would say this.” Rock smiled at her. “The Lopen would never disobey the Captain.” “I wouldn’t, either,” Elebet agreed. “You’re all sissies,” Shallan dared them. They went down to the market. It was early, and the crowd had not grown yet. The men walked one before and one behind, alert. The women strolled and shopped. Elebet was pleased with the well stocked booths and variety she saw. She ignored the stares as best she could. People wouldn’t know who she was, but she assumed they would recognize Shallan and the two Bridgemen. She hoped she wouldn’t have to introduce them to the Whitespine. “I can cover that brand whenever you want,” Shallan said discreetly. “I know, but no, thank you.” They found a toy maker and stopped at his booth. A woman with a small child looked at them and smiled until she saw Elebet’s brand. She frowned, took the child’s hand and left. Elebet sighed. “I am looking for someone to make a gift. I need a small horse, a Ryshadium, and rider.” The man was a Darkeyes, and seemed to recognize Elebet. “Brightness? Brightness Elebet? You escaped Kholinar, too! Thank the Stormfather!” He bowed at little bow. “You helped my family, got us some food so we could leave before the Parshendi arrived.” He looked at her face, saw the scar. “No. You didn’t quite escape, did you?” “Captain Kaladin came to rescue me. The gift is for his little brother.” “Of course, of course. Horse and rider it is. I don’t have anything made, but I can do whatever you want.” “Wonderful,” she smiled. “A black Ryshadium with a white blaze, and a rider in a Kholin uniform with long black hair and dark eyes. And small enough to fit in a pouch about this size.” She held her hands as best she could—stupid sleeve. “But not too small for a small child to play safely.” “I can have them in a few days, Brightness.” She flinched a little at the word this time. “Thank you. How much?” “Wait and let me see when I am done, please. It won’t be much for you.” She smiled, thanked him again, and they left. They walked and looked, talking like the brand on Elebet’s forehead didn’t exist, like no one noticed it or made comments as they passed, ignoring them. Elebet found a leather worker, and decided it was time for gloves. She ordered a black pair for riding, and then a safehand glove in several colors of leather. Time to set a new trend. Then they went back upstairs for lunch, and Navani told Elebet that she could go to the refugee center after they ate. Rock and Lopen escorted her back down to the huge main ground level. They knew where the refugee processing center was, and helped her find the head ardent, a man named Patat. Patat was a lighteyes of middle age, short and thick, with a pockmarked face. His dark hair was very tightly curled, cut close to his scalp. He had obviously been instructed about her—no staring at the brand, didn’t call her Brightness. He struck her as kind and caring, a mild man doing a near impossible job. Refugees were lined up, lines divided into light and darkeyes. “These are the processing lines, Princess. We have space in the city, but the quarters must be prepared, jobs found, food prepared for them as they come in, and some order kept.” She saw that immediately. There were several lighteyed women in line complaining loudly about how long the process was taking, and that the darkeyed line was moving faster. Their children were running and screaming, getting in the way of people trying to work. The mothers let them, ignoring them. Elebet was watching as one toddler, a chubby little girl, wandered into the path of an oncoming pushcart. The cart was heavy and piled high, and the man pushing it toward the distribution area didn’t see her. Elebet didn’t hesitate and ran, snatching the baby out of the path of the cart wheels. “There, my chopsy cheeks,” she smiled at the surprised little face. The child started to cry at the stranger holding her, but saw Elebet’s warm smile and stopped. She smiled back. “Storming whore! Get your filthy hands off my baby! Help! Somebody help!” The mother came shrieking. Her friend came with her. “How dare you touch that child! Put her down now!” Rock and Lopen flanked Elebet, ready to defend her. Elebet held her hand out to stop them. “Step back please.” She put the little girl down at her mother’s feet. An anger spren popped at her feet and disappeared. These women were ignorant, and probably very selfish. She wouldn’t waste anger on them. She’d treat them like aggressive axhounds that didn’t know her. First she squared her shoulders and stepped towards the mother, looking her in the eyes. She spoke calmly, her voice low. “First, if YOU had been watching your child and seen her about to be crushed, I wouldn’t have had to touch her. But you were too busy complaining. If you think your line moves too slowly, go to the darkeyes line. Second, do you think I did this to myself?” She pointed to the brand. “But I’m happy you’re SO ignorant. You’ve obviously never been a woman in a city that falls in a battle.” She took one more aggressive step forward, like chasing off a snarling axhound. “Now, take your child and WATCH her, get in a line and be quiet.” She turned to the friend. “You, too. Now.” The women stood for a moment, mouths gaping open, but they did as they were told. Elebet turned back to Patat. Rock and Lopen were smiling their approval. “I am so sorry, Ardent Patat. Maybe I should help some place less public, for now anyway. I’m pretty good at organizing.” “No apologies necessary, Princess. Thank you for saving that child. Let’s look at all the areas and see which you prefer to work.” They spent the afternoon with Bet studying each area, making suggestions to streamline the processes. She hadn’t picked one. She’d have to think about it. “Little Princess, it is late, and I have stew that needs tending. I left one to stir, but I am cook for Bridge Four. May we take you back to quarters now?” Rock asked. “Certainly. I’m ready for some stew myself. So, if you’re the cook, I don’t want to offend you. I know how cooks are.” She smiled tiredly. “If I arrange for a special feast for Bridge Four as a thank you, would you allow the royal cooks to do it, or would you prefer to prepare it yourself?” She pointed at the Lopen. “Our secret. Kal...the Captain trusts you.” Rock thought a moment. “This is gift for Bridge Four? From you?” “Yes.” “Then I accept this gift. I will not cook.” As they talked, they made their way through the open area, past shops, eating places, and bars. There were more on the balconied area above. They were almost to the lifts to take them up to the Kholin quarters when three drunk lighteyed men blocked their path. “Look what we have here! And she’s a lighteyes! Hello, brightness, want to join us? You have a place close by?” Rock and Lopen immediately stepped in front of her, but she pushed between them. She would show no fear, allow no fearspren to appear. She had practiced that enough. “I’ve got this,” she said. She tapped the fingers of her freehand on the Whitespine fang hilt of the knife Navani had given her. She dropped her chin, getting into the stance Adolin had taught her so many years ago, a wicked, pleased smile on her face. “The last fool to talk to me that way paid more than you want to pay. He’s dead. His friend, too. Want me to show you how I killed them?” She drew the knife. “I’ll be very happy to show you. One had an Honorblade. Do you? Didn’t think so. My father is the Blackthorn. They call me the Whitespine.” The men took a step back. One grabbed the sleeve of the one who’d spoken. “Come on, not worth it.” They took a wide birth around Elebet and her guards. She looked at Rock and Lopen. Lopen’s expression was a mixture of shock and admiration. “Is this true?” Lopen was wide eyed. “Yes. Vyre—Captain Kaladin called him Moash—had an Honorblade.” “I confess. I heard Captain’s report to your father,” Rock turned to The Lopen. “Is true. Princess Elebet killed traitor Moash. And one other.” “I couldn’t have without the Captain’s help,” she said just as Kaladin landed next to her, startling her, dropping from the balconies above. He had been watching all afternoon, just in case. “Nicely done, Lady Whitespine.” “Until they’re too drunk or not drunk enough and I actually have to fight.” “Good point. I’ll have Teft arrange some training in private. And the Princeling could teach you a thing or two.” “So, you were watching?” “Yes, in case you three needed help. Your father wanted you to make an impression yourself, instead of him or the queen announcing your arrival. That’s why I chose Rock and Lopen for duty today. Rock is our cook, and not as associated with guarding the family. Lopen is good at blending, so hopefully he wasn’t an obvious Kholin guard. “ “So fall on my face or make a lasting impression?” “And you made the exact impression your father knew—or hoped, at least—you would.” “Which was?” “Patient, strong, brave. A Kholin.” He nodded, “and maybe a little bit crazy.” He didn’t smile, waiting for her reaction. His lips twitched up slightly when she smiled. “Glad I made Daddy proud. I think. Little crazy, huh?” “My words. Not his.” “I thought I needed a little crazy to be Shallan’s Whitespine.” “It worked.” Rock and Lopen nodded agreement. “They were plants?” “No, sorry. They were actual jerks. All of them. They needed to be real to spread the word, be believable.” Elebet nodded, “The little girl was really in danger. You wouldn’t have orchestrated that.” “Never.” Kaladin looked at Rock and Lopen. “You two are dismissed. I’ll escort the princess home and report to her father.” Rock did the Bridge Four salute to Kaladin, and turned and also gave it to Elebet. Lopen followed his motions. “It has been an honor, Princess.” “The honor has been mine. Thank you both.” Lopen nodded to her, and quick stepped to keep up with Rock’s long legs as they headed back to their barracks. Kaladin motioned Elebet to precede him into the lift. He stood slightly behind her, which made her unhappy. Conversation in that position was awkward, but when a couple others joined them, it didn’t matter. The things she wanted to say, she couldn’t. She was just happy to feel him close to her. The day had been long, and not seeing him at all had been harder than she thought it would be. It struck her like a thunderbolt that she didn’t feel quite complete without him. But she was glad she hadn’t known he was there, watching over her. It might have affected how she reacted. She had been strong because she had to be, needed to be. Her first impulse when she saw him had been to go to pieces, want him to hold her. That would have been totally inappropriate. She could hear him saying it in her head. As they walked down the hall to the family quarters, he stayed behind her. The guards outside saluted them both, and opened the door for them. When they stepped inside and the doors closed, she turned and looked up at his face. Their eyes met, but he quickly looked up, beyond her. “Home safe and sound. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll report to your father.” He glanced down, waiting for her dismissal. She could tell that he didn’t want any conversation, so she thanked him and went straight to her room. There she threw herself on her bed and cried into her pillow. After a while, there was a tap on the door. “Elebet?” It was Shallan. “Come in.” She wiped her face with her safehand sleeve. Well, it did come in handy for something. “Storms, he’s made you cry. What did Captain Scowls say or do?” “Nothing. It’s not him. It’s been a long day, and I needed to let go.” “I heard. Sounds like the Whitespine did her job. Good girl! It probably won’t stop yet, but as the stories spread, they’ll leave you alone more and more. Family dinner tonight, so you don’t need to change, but wash up. Dinner is nearly ready.” Shallan closed the door quietly. Cool water calmed her red eyes, and no family members mentioned her crying. She appreciated Shallan’s discretion. They did all greet her with smiles, and Adolin and her father hugged her. She was glad—she needed some hugs. “Bridgeboy....” “Son.” “Sorry. The Captain said you were terrific today.” “I’m proud of you, little Bet. The Captain told us you handled a couple of problems in true Kholin style.” “I need to do some training, though.” She looked at Adolin. “My one move can’t work every time.” “The Captain suggested you work with your brother here, in private, and he’ll arrange for you to train in a private setting with Lt. Teft. I believe he’s the best instructor.” “Yes, sir. And did you arrange to have all of Bridge Four off duty for their dinner? I need a day to organize it.” “The Captain needs a couple of days to schedule it. So in three days? I told the quartermaster to expect you tomorrow morning.” Dinner was good, the family supportive, and Adolin offered to start training after dinner, but she was too tired. She slept well because she was tired but not exhausted, and got up ready to meet the quartermaster. Her knife became part of her everyday attire. The havah she chose was a soft green, and Shallan helped her put her hair up. She rushed through breakfast, excited about her plans. Her escort for the day was Rock again, who she had requested, with a girl named Lyn. She appreciated Kaladin picking guards for her that made her comfortable. She’d have to thank him. She liked Lin immediately. Lyn seemed a little put off by her, though she sensed it wasn’t the brand for some reason. As they walked, Elebet asked nonstop questions about the women Windrunners and their training. Lyn’s answers got shorter and shorter. Maybe she was distracting her from her job, so she stopped. The quartermaster, Petras, was a tall man, fit for his age and job, a little loud, a darkeyes of fourth nahn, very friendly, and enthusiastic about her plans. He had been in her father’s army, but had injured a knee. He was a good scrounger, and had become a good quartermaster. “My Princess, welcome home. Tell me what you want. Your father said anything you ask, give you.” Elebet smiled. “Petras, have you got enough fresh things for all of Bridge Four? Nothing soulcast at all. And wine and ale, not too strong, but not too weak, either. I want them happy, but Captain Kaladin might not appreciate it if we get them too drunk.” “I believe we can do that.” “Lyn,” Elebet turned to the girl, “how spicy or sweet do you ladies in Bridge Four like your food?” Lyn was plainly surprised at the question. “Oh, uh, a little spicy, not too sweet.” Elebet grinned, “same as me.” Lyn finally smiled at her. “Savory may be a better word.” “Yes! Savory. I love savory. Save sweet for dessert.” “Exactly!” Lyn shook herself back to guard mode, but the smile lingered. Elebet made sure Rock and Lyn had say in the menu. Rock was giving up cooking, and she wanted to make sure he didn’t feel left out of the decision making. Lyn was a surprise bonus since she hadn’t known there were women allowed in Bridge Four. She was sure they hadn’t run bridges. She’d get that story later. Petras introduced them to the royal cook, a man who looked a great deal like the quartermaster, only much older and much shorter. He and Rock took over from there, which suited Elebet just fine since she didn’t cook. Everything was arranged, and Elebet had to wait two days. She had plenty to do, training with Teft and Adolin in the mornings in the family’s quarters, then going to the refugee center in the afternoon. There she rotated through the different jobs, helping where she was needed. Her new connection with Petras would come in handy for the refugees, too. But what to wear? It wasn’t like her wardrobe was full. Shallan came to the rescue, drawing a havah that was perfect, and calling in the queen’s tailor. It was done just in time—Kholin blue silk, of course, with the bodice closely matching the men’s uniforms except for the safehand sleeve, but the skirt, instead of the traditional havah skirt, was full and flowing with godets outlined with long ruffles that swirled as she walked. It made her feel feminine and sophisticated. She wore the jeweled belt and scabbard with her knife—she would always wear it in public. Navani and Shallan helped her do her hair up and off her face. She hadn’t seen Kaladin except for when he came to report to her father. When he did, he spoke politely but only hesitated to tell her there was no news when she asked about the horses. When he was the escort at the door to take her to the Bridge Four barracks, she was surprised. Then it struck her—they were all off duty, so no trusted escort. He had taken the duty himself. Kaladin watched her walk toward him, and she couldn’t read his face. He stepped to one side for her to pass him, and as he turned to follow her, he mumbled that she looked nice. She smiled at him over her shoulder and thanked him. “I haven’t seen you wearing princess clothes, Princess.” “I clean up when I have an occasion. It isn’t my usual choice, but I wanted to be appropriately attired tonight.” “You look very appropriate.” “Thanks. You look very captainly yourself.” His formal uniform was impeccable. “Tell me, has Rock survived not cooking?” “Honestly, he cooked. Just a side dish, but something he can turn into lunch tomorrow with any leftovers.” She laughed, “I knew he couldn’t stand it. Most cooks can’t.” They walked the rest of the way in comfortable silence. When they arrived at the barracks, Kaladin opened the door for her to enter, and followed her in. The royal cooks had just finished setting up a serving line. They had put linens on the tables in the mess area of the hall, which gave the room a more formal feeling. After calling the men to attention, Kaladin introduced Elebet. “Bridge Four! I am honored to introduce Princess Elebet Kholin, daughter of Dalinar Kholin, sister of Prince Adolin and our own Prince Renarin. She has graciously provided dinner this evening, and I am told by her father that she has something she wants to say. Princess?” He stepped to one side, next to his officers, Teft, Sigzil, and Rock. Elebet wasn’t used to speaking to a crowd, and a room full of mostly strange men almost made her turn and run. But she remembered why she was there, and stood straight and tall. She hoped her voice would be strong. First she turned to Kaladin. “I thank you, Captain Kaladin, for rescuing me, for risking your life to bring me to my family.” She curtsied, bending her knees and bowing her head to him. When she stood, his face was shocked, and he waved his hand in a stop motion. She ignored it. She faced the men in the hall, and curtsied deep again, bowing her head again. “And I thank you, noble members of Bridge Four, for risking your lives to save those of my father and brothers, and so many of their men.” Kaladin stepped forward, taking her freehand arm, pulling to straighten her up. “Princess, it’s not appropriate for you to bow to us,” he said quietly as he released her arm. “You’re nobility, and we’re mostly darkeyes...” “Forgive me, Captain, if I embarrassed you,” she said quietly, but in a loud voice, she said, “and forgive me for contradicting you, but eye color, or the color of your hair or skin has nothing to do with nobility. Nobility isn’t a circumstance of birth. It’s what’s in your heart, what you do, that makes you noble. You and Bridge Four have risked your lives for strangers. How is it inappropriate for me to show gratitude and respect for men of such honor?” Someone yelled “she is the Lady Whitespine” and the room erupted, chanting “Whitespine!” until Rock could be heard above the din shouting “she killed traitor Moash, she is Bridge Four!” Then then chant changed to “she is Bridge Four!” Elebet was overwhelmed. These men and women who attracted Honorspren accepted her, cheered her as part of them. She blushed, and with her pale skin, her cheeks glowed quite red. Tears ran down her cheeks as she smiled and gave them the Bridge Four salute, and they cheered even louder for her. She laughed and cried. When she looked around at Kaladin, Rock, and the rest of the officers, all were cheering except Kaladin. He had an odd expression she couldn’t read. “You disapprove?” She mouthed over the din. He shook his head, no. “You angry?” She mouthed. Again he shook his head, “Tell you later,” she read his lips. She motioned to them all to quiet down, then invited them to the buffet tables, one for the men, another smaller one for the women, and told them to eat all they wanted. Servers circulated through the tables, ready to pour a choice of drink. The room was divided with dining tables for men on one side and for women on the other, with a head table for Kaladin and his officers, and a table with a lone chair for Elebet. She frowned at that. After all the women had filled their plates, she got a taste of each thing and took her plate to the table with the Windrunner women. “Do you mind if I join you ladies?” she asked. They nodded as they chewed, scooting over to make a space for her. She put down her plate and went back for her chair. Kaladin was standing beside it. “I am sorry if I offended you,” she began. “I am not offended, Princess, I...” he hesitated. “It just struck me that you are one of the only people I know who laughs and cries at the same time. My mother is the other.” She smiled at him, eyes sparkling. “I am flattered to be compared to your mother for any reason. Happy tears. Happy tears. They’re a good thing.” She reached for the chair to move it, but he took it from her. “Let me.” She tried to ignore the scowl on Lyn’s face as he seated her and pushed the chair to the table. As she ate, she asked them each how they became Windrunners with the Bridge. When she finished, she excused herself and went to each man to to speak and thank them individually. Jon was draped around her shoulders like an elaborate wrap. Many acknowledged him, and he seemed to enjoy the attention, especially from Rock, who made a sign of respect to him. Elebet also acknowledged their spren. When the food was gone, and just drink left, she knew enough about the army to excuse herself and leave. She finished her evening by thanking the cooks and servers. She nearly left without an escort, but Rock caught up to her, explaining that he would see her safely home, and then join his family. “You have family here? Wonderful? Do many of the others?” “Not many” “Is there one with a wife who acts as a scribe? The Captain isn’t married, is he, or have someone?” Storms, that had never entered her mind. “Or does one of the women scribe for Bridge Four?” “No, Princess, my wife is not so good with Alethi language, and women refuse to do it. Our scribe is Sigzil, and he only knows glyphs.” “I’ll see if I can help.” She thanked him when they reached the Kholin quarters, and went in to find her father to thank him again. She found him at a table writing. It was her turn for shock. It was even greater when she saw he was writing women’s script, not glyphs. “Daddy?” She put her hands on his shoulders, leaning over to read what he had written. “That’s amazing.” She hugged him. He patted her arm over his shoulder. “Don’t tell anyone. It isn’t finished.” He turned in his chair. “How was your dinner?” “Better than I could have hoped. Thank you for letting me do that. They seemed to appreciate it, too. And I could never have imagined seeing so many Honorspren!” She hugged him again, kissed his cheek. “It all made me happy. Oh, and your daughter has been declared not only the Lady Whitespine, but a member of Bridge Four.” The next morning began a new routine. Her escorts both wore an armband of Kholin blue embroidered with a whitespine. She trained with Teft and Adolin, then went to the barracks to help there, either scribing for Sigzil, who was very happy to hand the chore over to her, or helping Rock with leftover stew for lunch and beginning his stew for the evening. Then she spent the rest of the afternoon in the refugee center. The refugee children flocked to her, drawn by her obvious love of them. Elebet was careful to get permission to interact with them first, and got it most of the time. Her reputation had spread, and people knew the Whitespine was there to help them. With so many farm families coming in, it was natural to begin plots of farm land around the city. Jon loved helping there. And though she enjoyed organizing and arranging quarters and food for the people, it turned out that her most important help was as a woman who had a shared experience, for the ones who had experienced rape. They didn’t have a slave brand like hers to announce to the world that they had been raped, and they came to her quietly, shyly. Elebet arranged for a discreet place for them to meet. They shared their experience and their pain, and they reassured each other that they were not at fault. It was good for Elebet, but in spite of it, she still felt dirty and unworthy. She did her best to hide that feeling from the others. Knowing in her head that the men who had violated her were the evil ones did not keep her heart from feeling that their evil had transferred to her. She was Alethi after all. The best part of her day, her favorite part, was working in the kitchen, helping Rock and whoever was on duty that day with him, listening to each of the men of Bridge Four tell stories of how they ended up running a bridge and of their bridge running days, of how Kaladin had brought them hope, made them a team, saved them all. They confirmed everything she already knew about him. He was the best man, the best person, she knew. Chapter VI. RYSHADIUM AND CHASMS Kaladin found Elebet peeling longroots in the Bridge Four mess with Rock and Lopen. “So, here you are. What are you doing?” She held up the knife and root, “Peeling longroot. You know I’m good at it.” “Why are you here peeling longroot?” “Be useful as well as ornery...” “Your mother always said.” “Yes!” Her smile lit the room. “But why are you here when there are Ryshadium at the Oathgate on the Plains?” Elebet squealed, dropping the knife and root, quickly hugging Rock and Lopen, and pecking each on the cheek. She ran to Kaladin and did the same to him, then grabbed his hand and started dragging him to the door. “Stop. Stop.” He pulled his hand away. “I don’t have time to go now. I have other things to do.” She dropped his hand, put her hands on her hips and cocked her head at him. “How can you say that? You have one of the most magnificent creatures on all of Roshar who has chosen you to love and devote herself to. How can you ignore her?” The Lopen leaned close to Rock, “Is she talking about herself or the horse?” “Both, I think.” Kaladin and Elebet both heard them, but chose to ignore them like they hadn’t. Kaladin rubbed his clean shaved chin. “Ok. Fine.” Elebet hopped up and down a couple of times like a little girl going to her first party, started to reach for his hand again but stopped herself. She started for the door, saying, “Come on, Jon, come on Kal-Captain!” over her shoulder. As Jon wrapped around her, Kaladin followed her, actually having trouble keeping up with her. “You’re in such a hurry? Fine. You come on.” He wrapped an arm around her, drew in Stormlight, and they zipped across the ground to the Oathgate. There, with a flash of Stormlight, they arrived at the Shattered Plains. The mares were outside the Oathgate, and Elebet was happy to see that Sigzil, who was on duty, had gotten them water. She hugged him and thanked him. She was also happy that the huge horses were in good weight after their long journey. Dreamstorm nickered to Kaladin, and Belle walked up to Elebet and pressed the front of her head to Elebet. Her head was the length of the girl’s body. Elebet wrapped her arms around the mare’s head, and buried her face in her long black forelock and sighed. After a few minutes, she looked to see Kaladin scratching and rubbing the black mare’s neck and ears. Sigzil scratched his head, “That black mare was not letting ANYONE near her. I might have gotten the other into the gate to send over, but not the black.” “No risking your toes, much less your life,” Elebet nodded. “She has her man, now.” They walked into the Oathgate with the horses following, and took them to their new home. Elebet had stalls prepared already, in anticipation of their arrival. They only needed fresh water in their buckets. Kaladin helped fill and carry them. His uniform was styled for riding, but Elebe’s havah was not. She went in the tack room and changed into her riding shirt, breeches, and boots, which she had kept there, and slipped on her glove. Then she got grooming tools for Belle, and handed Kaladin a box of brushes, combs, and a hoof pick for Dreamstorm. She began grooming Belle, talking softly to her, hugging her neck every so often. The dirt coming off the horse filled the air around them. Kaladin tossed brushes around in the box, trying to remember which was for what purpose. He looked at Elebet to see what she was using. “Why are you cleaning her face and legs? Can’t we just knock the dirt off the saddle areas and be done?” “No, silly! You’re right about the saddle area needing to be clean so they don’t get sores, but it’s a process. More than cleaning.” “A process?” “Yes. Think about it. Did you you just order the men in Bridge Four and expect them to obey you? Or did you do things to earn their obedience?” “I did things to earn it, I suppose.” “Of course you did. You do the same for the horses. Any horse. And you have to be partners. This is the time you clean them and check for injuries, but more important, get to know each other. You’ll be riding, and communicating without words. You need to feel what she’s thinking, feeling, what she likes or doesn’t like. Don’t just brush. Caress, love on her a little. Make her relax and be receptive to what you want to do. Affection helps you bond, so when you ride, you become almost one creature.” “Storms, Princess. You make it sound like making love.” Elebet stopped brushing, her arm frozen in mid stroke of the brush on the horse’s back. Kaladin closed his eyes. Idiot. How could you say that? Syl smacked his head. “I don’t know about that,” she said slowly. “I’ve never made love.” “I’m sorry, I...” “No, no. It’s good to know. Sounds like it would be nice. But I guess I’ll never know for myself.” He couldn’t help himself. He asked, “Would you ever even want to?” “Only with the one I feel safe in his arms,” she said it quietly. “I couldn’t hear.” “Nothing. Doesn’t matter. Won’t ever happen. No one will want me.” Syl was on his shoulder and whispered in his ear. She had heard clearly. “Elebet, I’m sorry. I’ve made you cry.” “No, I made myself cry. Look. I’m hugging myself.” She wrapped her arms around herself, patted her own back. He had said her name, not called her Princess. She smiled. “See? All better. Could we change the subject? How about I recite some of my mother’s funny poems? ‘There was a young man named...’” “No. No bad poetry. And my mother taught me that one.” “Really? Our mothers would have gotten along so well.” Her smile grew bigger. “Yes. They would have.” That made her laugh. They finished grooming, Kaladin trying to do what Elebet told him, and tacked the horses up. They rode side by side, walking the horses to warm them up. “How do you do it?” Kaladin asked. “After all you’ve been through?” “Do what?” “Smile. Laugh. Like nothing ever happened. How do you do it?” “I don’t know, exactly. I guess I don’t think about it if I don’t have to.” “But how do you not think about it?” “I think about other things.” “Like what?” “Well, for one thing, the beauty around me. You’ve seen the beauty in the sky.” “I do, but it helps when it’s pointed out to me.” He took the stone Tien had given him out of his pocket, rubbed it with his thumb a few times, slipped it back into his pocket. “What else?” ‘I can do that,’ she thought and smiled. “Belle. Belle makes me happy. I love her, and she loves me. But you aren’t a horse person.” “No, I wasn’t, but I am becoming a Dreamstorm person.” He patted the mare’s shiny neck. ‘I helped you with that,’ she thought. “You love Bridge Four, and they love you.” He agreed, “And I am proud of them. They do make me happy.” ‘I will do my best to help you with that,’ she thought. “But what makes you happiest? What do you see or just think of that makes you smile?” He thought a while. “Oroden. Ory makes me smile just thinking of him.” He smiled, his love of little Oroden shining in his eyes. Elebet saw it, and she got quiet. The smile left her face. ‘I can’t do that,’ she thought. He glanced over at her. “Now you aren’t smiling.” He had noticed her expression, and that made her happy, so she smiled again. “There. Better?” “I’m sorry. I brought up a bad subject again.” “No, don’t be sorry! I asked an honest question and wanted an honest answer. And thinking of that precious face would make anybody happy.” She knew now what she had to do. The thought made her sick, but she knew what he needed. “Here’s a good place to let the girls stretch their legs.” They picked up a trot, the mares keeping a perfect two beat gait. Music spren, like spinning translucent ribbons, began to appear around them. After a distance, they cantered, and the three-four beat of the steely hooves on stone brought more music spren. Syl swirled among them. Joy spren began to form around Elebet, Belle, and Jon, who was wrapped around Elebet’s waist. They came to the end of the plain that ran around the front of the tower city and slowed back to a walk. “That was amazing. A Ryshadium makes a difference I couldn’t imagine before. This mare liked her feet off the ground when she was a regular horse. Should I see what she thinks of flying?” Kaladin had a huge smile on his face. “Ask her. Feel what she says.” “I have no clue how to do that, but.... Ok, girl, want to fly for real?” The mare lifted her front feet from the ground. Kaladin took it as a yes, and changed the direction of gravity, stuck himself to the mare, and they took off. The mare’s feet flailed for a few moments, but she quickly got the feel of balance with Kaladin, and seemed to love soaring with him and Syl. Elebet wondered which drew the joy spren that appeared around them. Lifting the weight of the huge mare burned a great deal of Stormlight, so the flight couldn’t last too long. Kaladin lowered them gently so he didn’t injure her legs. The mare tossed her head and danced, neck arched, back to Elebet and Belle. Kaladin was flushed and laughing. “I think she liked it.” “Careful. She may make you carry her from now on.” Elebet was about to burst. Ory had made him laugh that hard, and now the Ryshadium mare. She beamed. As Kaladin looked at her face, his smile faded slowly, his expression becoming sad. Elebet saw it. “You ok?” “Of course,” he said. “We need to get back. I really do have other things I need to do.” They rode back to the stable quietly. Elebet felt almost frantic wondering why his mood had changed so fast. She wondered what she had said or done to kill the smile she loved seeing. The horses were cooled out when they arrived. They brushed the sweat marks out. Elebet would clean the tack later, and turn the horses out after feeding them. She told Kaladin to leave her to do chores so he could finish whatever he needed to do. She nearly forgot to ask him a favor, and hesitated when she remembered to ask. “You look like you have something to say.” “I don’t want to keep you any longer. Thanks for coming with me.” “So you do have something you want to say.” “A favor to ask.” He sighed. “So ask.” “I want to go down into the chasms.” “What? Why?” “Well, Shallan...” “Shallan’s idea. Of course.” “She said they’re beautiful and wants to go draw. I’ve heard so many stories when I’ve been helping Rock, and if I’m Bridge Four, I need to see what the men saw, what they did. I can’t carry a bridge to battle, but I can...” “You want to see dead, rotting bodies? Have you discussed this with your father?” She could see he didn’t want to do it. She was sorry she’d asked and put a final bad note on the end of what had been a happy day. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have said anything. I enjoyed our ride. Thank you again.” She went to the tack room to clean the saddles and bridles. She was rinsing the bits off when he spoke from behind her. He leaned against the doorjamb. “We HAVE to have permission from your father. It’s dangerous down there. Who wants to go? You, Shallan, and who?” “Just us girls, I don’t know. But you don’t want to, I can tell, so...” “No, like I said, it’s dangerous. And it’s a long way down. You won’t like getting there.” “With two or three Radiants—how dangerous can it be? And I will always feel safe in your arms.” He rubbed his chin. “Get permission.” He turned and left. Dalinar’s first impulse was to say no, but Navani pulled him aside, and after a few minutes of quiet conversation, he said yes, but only if Kaladin went and at least one other Windrunner. Elebet hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Dalinar talked to the Captain himself, set a day and time, and gave him permission to chose the second escort. Kaladin chose The Lopen. He hoped The Lopen would irritate Shallan. Kal and Bet groomed and tacked up their horses. Shallan chose a buckskin with a golden coat, big blaze and white socks, very flashy, and had a cavalry trooper groom him for her. The Lopen chose a dependable little chestnut with a perfect white star in the center of his forehead. Elebet made sure they had food and water, and the four rode to the Oathgate and out on the Shattered Plains. They didn’t talk too much as they rode. The Ryshadium had to slow down to let the two normal horses keep up. Kaladin got them to an area he knew well, and they dismounted, turning the horses loose. The Ryshadium would stay near, the other two would stay with the Ryshadium. Slinging light packs with the food water over their shoulders, and Shallan with her satchel of art supplies, Kaladin lifted both women, but not Lopen, who could change his own gravity, over the side of the chasm, and began their descent. Elebet squeaked, “oh, no, no. I can’t fall free! Somebody hold me!” Lopen would have, but Kaladin reached her first. He wrapped an arm around Elebet and Jon, her face immediately buried in his shoulder. “I thought you wanted to see this.” “From the ground.” When they reached the chasm floor, Elebet couldn’t pick a thing to look at first. She spun several times, her mouth agape. It was early, so the sun was at an angle that didn’t allow much light down the deep walls. The sky was a narrow strip of brilliant blue. The stone walls were layered with years of rushing water and wind exposing different colors and kinds of rock. The rock buds and vines were far different from any Elebet had seen above, anywhere, with chulls she didn’t recognize, either. The colors were amazing, even in shadow. Elebet found a chull shell with iridescent blues and greens on the inside, with a brown rough outer side. “Look at this,” she held it out to Kaladin. “Tien would have loved this place, wouldn’t he?” she said as she turned in circles trying to take it all in at once. He studied her for a few seconds before agreeing, seeing the wonder and amazement on her face. The blue and green iridescence reflected her eyes. “Could I take this with me?” she asked. “I don’t see why not.” Elebet slipped the shell into a pocket. “Shallan, how fast can you draw? I need pictures of lots of these things.” “Just show me what you want. I can remember them if we don’t have time down here. It’s fun that you are as excited about this as me!” Kaladin looked at Lopen. Lopen shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. Then Kaladin set out in a direction he knew well, the others following in line. All of them had trouble keeping up with Kaladin’s long legs. The Lopen was at the back of the line, both as a guard and to discourage lagging behind to gape. Shallan finally protested. “Slow down! We’re here to look and enjoy.” “Just getting you to the spot I know you’ll want to stop.” “Which is?” “Just around here.” He led them around a bend into a more open area. There were several pools of water with a riot of plants covered in flowers of every hue. “You got me, Bridgeboy. You are right.” Shallan plopped down on a flat rock, got out her paper and colored pencils, and went to work. “Lopen, would you escort the Princess to where...” “Oh, no, Bridgeboy. Lopen stays with me. I won’t have your dower face darkening my art.” She pointed a finger at Jon. “You’re the chaperone.” She pointed at Pattern on her skirt. “You! Don’t say it.” Pattern hummed. “Fine. I’d rather hunt rotting bodies than stand here with you. Come on, Princess. Let’s go find you some bodies.” He marched off. They wound through the chasm, with Elebet struggling to keep up. His mood had grown too foul for her to say anything to slow him down. What had she said or done? Did mentioning Tien upset him? She was very much regretting the trip, even though it was beautiful. But he must have noticed the beauty before since he knew where to take Shallan to draw. She found that encouraging. They entered another broad area with big pools of stagnant water. Elebet saw a series of stones that almost crossed one wide pool. Kaladin was already half way around it when she began to step from stone to stone to catch up to him. “I wouldn’t do that....” he began. Elebet hoped the chull shell sticking above the water would move and not be crushed when she stepped on it, if it was alive. It shot from under her foot, and she fell with a huge splash into the water. Kaladin roared with laughter. The water wasn’t deep, coming just over her hips sitting down. A piece of something stringy and slimy draped across her head. She reached up and grabbed it to sling at him, then splashed water in his direction. When she put her freehand down to help push herself up, something sharp cut her hand. She squealed “ow!” and jerked her hand up, holding it tight. The laughing stopped as Kaladin jumped into the pool and swept her out of the water, carrying her to the side and putting her down. She let her safehand arm linger over his shoulder. “You’re much heavier wet,” he said. “Let me see. Chulls, sharp things in the water, Rotspren. Not a good place to fall.” He held up her hand, found the cut. He put his mouth to it, sucking the blood out of the cut and spitting it out. He did it a second time. She thought her insides were melting. I could rip off this glove, tangle my fingers in that mane of hair, and kiss him. He poured water from his canteen over the cut, and got antiseptic from a pocket. Of course the surgeon had brought antiseptic to this place. “Make sure you keep it clean when you get home, keep antiseptic on it. You don’t want Rotspren.” He looked at her face then. She was looking at his eyes, studying them. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for YOU to get wet. You’ve probably ruined your boots.” “Didn’t mean for....? You meant to do that?” “You think I don’t know a wet chull shell from a wet rock?” “Why?” “Made you smile, bonus, made you laugh.” “Storms, El-Princess. You got hurt. To make me smile?” “I didn’t mean to get hurt. Just make you smile.” “I don’t have to be happy all the time. Nobody is happy all the time.” “But I want you to be.” “Why do you care?” “Because I,” she caught herself before she said love you, “think you are the best person I know.” “I’m not the best person you know.” “Of course you are.” He was shaking his head. Elebet touched his arm with her freehand. “Who’d my father trust to come get me? You kept saying you had orders. But did he order you to, or ask you to?” Kaladin hesitated, rubbing his chin once. “He asked, but anything Dalinar Kholin asks is an order to me.” She laughed, “I think your men think the same of you. But my point is, you could have refused, going into enemy territory, risking your life for a stranger. But you didn’t. Only a truly good man would do that, and you deserve to be happy.” “Nobody deserves to be happy. I don’t.” “Everybody deserves to be happy, especially you.” “Such a lighteyes thing to think.” “What has eye color got to do with being happy?” “Little things. Like enough food to eat. Being killed in lighteyed men’s wars. Justice. Want me to go on?” “All things we need to change. But I’m a Lighteyes. Did it save me from being starved, thrown in prison, beaten, raped? Why Lighteyes over Darkeyes? Was it because Radiants’ eyes turned light? Things need to change.” He stared at her a minute, then shook his head. “No wonder they threw you in prison. You’re quite the revolutionary. Come on, let’s get you back.” “But we didn’t see what we came to see.” “Fine. It isn’t far where we used to find a lot to scavenge.” They found bodies in crevices, trapped under debris in the next narrowed area, both human and Parshendi. All of them were covered in rotspren, the smell horrible. No one had gathered the weapons that fell with them. Elebet had her freehand over her mouth and nose, a trickle of blood still on the cut place. She took her hand away long enough to talk. “Do you ever think we are fighting the wrong people?” “The Parshendi? Yes.” “Me, too. The Parshendi who found me in the palace prison were much kinder to me than the humans who put me there. Definitely more kind to me than the ones the Fused gave me to. You said the ones taking the palace were your friends.” He nodded. “You said you couldn’t stop them fighting your other friends.” He nodded again. “See? You had two problems. You didn’t have TIME for an answer. And you didn’t have the right question. You couldn’t have an answer when you didn’t have the right question.” “The question wasn’t how to make them stop?” “The first question is who should we be fighting? Then you figure out how to make them stop. You didn’t have time for that. You think you failed. You didn’t. You didn’t have time or an answer to the question yet.” “So who do you think we should we be fighting?” “Odium. Evil. There are good Parshendi. We both know that. We’ve seen that. Look at Rlain. And there are evil humans. We’ve seen lots of them. It’s evil and Odium we should fight, whether they’re human or Parshendi.” “Your father figured that out, too, maybe too late.” “He has. He still hasn’t got an answer to stop the fighting. You think you could come up with it in a split second when he’s had, what, months?” He studied her face, and nodded after few moments. “I never thought of it that way.” He started walking back toward where they’d left Shallan and Lopen. “Was this little expedition a plot to have that discussion? You seem to have thought about it.” “Not on my part. This was Shallan’s idea to come down here. Then the stories I’ve heard made me want to see where Bridge Four became who they are.” She walked beside him. He had slowed down. “Plot is such an ugly word.” She added quietly, “And yes, I have thought about it.” They walked a bit, and she said “You’re like him, you know, my father.” “Me? Like your father?” “Yes. You both want to save everyone, take responsibility of the world on your shoulders, blame yourselves for the evil things other men do. You both even had your best friend betray you.” She didn’t add the differences—that she could hug her father when she wanted to, that he had Navani for support, that she wanted to be Kaladin’s support. “Sounds like you’ve thought about that too.” “I have.” She hesitated. “And I have missed talking to you.” “We see each other all the time. And you have your family now.” “We see each other in passing, and the conversation is ‘good day, how are you, fine.’ Family? They love me. But they don’t understand me. Well, maybe my father does, but not in a way that’s comforting. Honestly, most of the time I wish I’d stayed with your family. At least I could get hugs from Ory.” “Your family doesn’t hug you?” “Daddy does. He about crushes me. Not the others. The Jasnah and Shallan aren’t huggers, and my brothers sort of do the ‘don’t actually touch me hug.’ You know, arms around you but no touching any other place. Navani tries, but...” “But?” “My father was always” she hesitated, hunting a diplomatic word, “uncomfortable with the way my mother wanted to cuddle all the time, even in public. He seems very comfortable cuddling with Navani, and it makes me...” “Uncomfortable.” “Yes.” She sighed. “None are snuggly like Oroden.” Kaladin smiled, “He is a snuggly little guy.” He looked at Elebet. “Storms, I’m making you cry again.” “No, I’m making me, or Ory is.” She dashed tears from her cheeks. “Either you need to take me back there or bring them here.” “Not much chance of either thing right now.” “Well, great, now I’ve got us both not happy. Sorry.” “Just get those tears done before we get back to Shallan. She’ll never let me live it down if she thinks I made you cry.” “Yes, sir.” “Ele—Princess, this has been...nice....talking... I do feel better, somehow.” Elebet was going to ask for a hug, but was afraid to ruin the feeling by pushing too far. “Me, too. We need to talk more often.” The Lopen and Shallan came around the bend in front of them. Good thing she hadn’t asked for the hug. “What have you two been doing? You’re all wet.” Shallan put her hands on her hips. Lopen was carrying all the bags and her art satchel. “At least you are, Sis.” “Little chull accident, no blood or bones. Er, a little blood.” Elebet held out her cut hand. “The Princess slipped trying to cross some water. She’s fine. Have you two seen what you needed to see?” “No chasmfiends?” “Not today, Princess.” “Then I guess we have.” Elebet was happy to have Kaladin hold her to get her out of the chasm. She counted it as a hug. When Kaladin left her and Shallan in the family quarters, she immediately dragged Shallan to hunt someone to make a couple of special pieces from her chull shell. They found a jewelry artisan who could cut the shell, and she described what she wanted. A few days later, she had a pair of small iridescent earrings in the shape of the Bridge Four glyph for herself, and a larger Bridge Four glyph made with both the rough outer side and the inner iridescent side of the shell for Kaladin. It took another few days to see Kaladin as he left from reporting to her father. “Ka-ptain, excuse me.” He stopped, “Yes, Princess?” “I have something for you, a thank you for taking us down to into the chasms.” “That’s really not necessary, Princess.” “I know, but it’s something I wanted to do.” Kaladin shifted his feet uncomfortably. “You said Tien gave you that beautiful rock to remind you that there’s beauty to be found if you look when you were depressed during the Weeping.” “Yes.” “This,” she held out the Bridge Four shell glyph, “is to remind you there’s good even in places or people that seem bad. There’s a rough, ugly side that sometimes hides a smooth, beautiful side.” Kaladin took the shell glyph from her, flipped it over a couple of times. “Tien would have liked you,” he said looking at her. She smiled a dazzling smile. He looked down and away from her face, focusing on the glyph. “Thank you.” He rubbed the iridescent side with his thumb like he always did Tien’s rock. “Thank you,” he held it up, studying both sides again, and slipped it into his pocket. “If you’ll excuse me.” She nodded, and he left. He hadn’t smiled, but she thought he liked it. He’d said Tien would have liked her. She thought that must be a compliment from him, and she was happy, until she thought she may have upset him since he didn’t smile. The only thing I can ever give him is a stupid chull shell, she thought. I can’t give him what he needs. She didn’t cry, but she went to bed much less happy than she’d thought she would when she gave him the glyph. Chapter VII. FAILED ‘SPERIMENT Kaladin hated the Queen’s formal dinners. He hated watching the Lighteyes socializing. He hated that they put themselves in a single group where attack would be easy. He hated that his men put their lives on the line guarding them for no good reason that he could see. And he hated that Elebet Kholin distracted his attention. He had lost sight of her. Storming woman. Where was she? She had been sitting with Wit, laughing and talking. Now both were gone. He focused on his rounds, checking his men, watching for anything unusual, looking for the missing woman. The dinners were always held on the level below the royal compartments. There was a banquet room with windows along one wall, with a balcony that ran the length of the windows and then around the corners of the room, connecting to hallways that led from the banquet room. It was a nightmare to guard. As he was heading to check a door to one of the side balconies, Wit came up behind him, grasped his elbow and led him through the door. “Help.” Wit whispered. “I need your help.” “What’s wrong?” “It’s Elebet....” “What’s wrong with the Princess?” As they came out onto the balcony, Kaladin saw Elebet leaned against the railing, tapping a foot and swaying with the time to the music coming faintly from the hall. She straightened when she saw him and smiled. “She’s drunk. Stay here with her while I find Renarin. I hope he can get the alcohol out of her before her father sees her and kills me. Tries to kill me.” Wit disappeared back through the door before Kaladin could refuse. Storms. He wanted to throttle Wit. “Princess? You ok?” “Kal’din,” she slurred. She was definitely drunk. She pushed off the rail, held out her arms, and ‘danced,’ sort of, in his direction, grinning at him from ear to ear. “Dance with me!” Storms, aren’t Edgedancers supposed to be graceful? Maybe not when they’re drunk. “I don’t dance, Princess.” “Well, Stormblesssssed, neither do I.” She giggled. “Did you have too much wine?” “Yeh. It was a ‘speriment.” He couldn’t help himself. He laughed. “A ‘speriment, huh? What kind of ‘speriment?” “Made you smile. Bonus, made you laugh.” She grinned at him, then grew a little serious. “Wit wanted to see if it made me happy.” “And did it?” “Don’t know. You messhed it up.” “I messed it up? What’d I do?” “You came in tha room.” “What? How did that mess it up?” “Cause I’m always happy when you’re in tha room.” She stepped close to him, patting his chest with her sleeved safehand. “Seein’ you makesss me happy. When you’re not here, I feel like I’m missin’ part a’me. When I see you, I think, there’s tha rest a’me.” Kaladin wanted to end the conversation, but he couldn’t leave her alone. He’d deal with Wit later. “I need ta make you happy. I figured it out.” She patted his chest again. “I needa find you a nice girl.” Jon had been in the shadows, and spoke up. “The words are not accepted. She’s drunk. I cannot accept drunken words.” Kaladin looked at Jon, the surprise plain on his face. “What words? THOSE words? What are you saying, Jon?” “I clearly said no drunken words...” “Yep,” Elebet continued, “gotta make you happy.” “Why do you have to make me happy?” “Cause, I tol’ you, silly, you’re the best person I know, and you needa be happy.” “Did Syl tell you to call me silly?” “Huh? No. You just are.” “The first time I saw you-“ “I was rump up and head down in tha water trough.” She stepped back and looked at his face and laughed. “Ok, it was worth sayin’ tha’ justa see your shocked ‘spression.” “No more wine for you, Princess.” He was having a difficult time not smiling or laughing. He didn’t want to encourage her. “We’ll find you a nice girl who’s patient and smart and wise like your mom. One who feels tha wonder in tha world like Syl. One who loves tha stuffin’ outta you like I do. One who’ll give you tall, handsome sons with black curly hair and big brown eyes. We’ll name tha first one Tien.” She put her safehand on her head, closing her eyes. She leaned back and would have fallen if Kaladin hadn’t grabbed her by the upper arms. “No, no. Not we. I can’t marry you.” “Because I’m a Darkeyes and you’re a Lighteyes.” “No! SO silly. I don’t care what color your eyes are. I love your eyes. I can see your SOUL in them. No, no, it’s because I’m dirty and broken.” “You are not dirty. Don’t say that. Don’t think that. Nobody believes that.” “Yeh, they do. I see the looks, hear the whispers. I know. Like I know I need to find you a nice girl to have babies.” “Why do I need a nice girl and have babies?” “Thas what I figured out.” She jabbed his chest with her freehand index finger. “I asked you wha made you happy. You said Ory. And I thought ‘when does Kaldin seem happiest?’ An’ th’ answer was when you were home! Home with your mom and dad and Ory. See! I figured it out. You need a family. I gotta find you a nice girl.....” “You said you love me but you want another girl to marry me?” “Yes, so you can be happy.” “What about you?” “I’m happy if YOU’RE happy. But I can’t give you babies and make you happy.” Her voice cracked a little. “I really want to. I want to have your babies.” “Say the words, Elebet, and your father can marry you to some nice prince, and you can have all the babies you want.” “What words? I said I love you and want you to be happy. What other words are there?” She shook her head. “And I don’t want anybody’s babies but yours.” Fortunately for Kaladin, Wit reappeared at that moment, but unfortunately for Kaladin, he had Lift in tow, not Renarin. He put his hand over his face. “Storms,” he said. “Here,” Wit pushed Lift toward Elebet, “See if you can burn some of the wine out of her.” “Well, look here! She has a starvin’ Voidbringer, too!” Lift pointed at Jon. “He’s more of a funny plant,” Elebet corrected her. “I am neither a Voidbringer, nor a funny plant!” Jon protested. Lift’s Wendell crawled around to Jon, and they casually saluted each other. Lift looked at Kaladin. “I can’t call you Tight Butt ‘cause I already call her father that. I should have met you first, ‘cause you’re more of a tight butt than he is. What can I call you? More Tight Butt? Young Tight Butt? It’s too confusing.” She looked at Elebet. “What do you call him?” “Can you help the Princess or not?” Kaladin changed the subject. “I can try, but I don’t think so. Let me get awesome.” Lift tried, but it didn’t help. “Can’t you get awesome? You have a Voidbringer like me.” “I am not...” “I don’t know how.” “Well, I can help her if she’s sick or hurt, but I can’t fix funny or silly or whatever she is.” Lift leaned to Kaladin, “Drunk is what she is, ya know. What’d you let her...” “I didn’t. Talk to Wit. Where’s he gone?” “Wit gone is good. Take her home.” Adolin and Shallan came through the door to the balcony. “Wit said you need help. What’s the problem?” Adolin asked. “Young Tight Butt....More Tight Butt....” “Did nothing. Wit tried an.....” “‘Speriment. It didn’t work.” Elebet shook her head and Kaladin had to catch her again. Shallan laughed. Adolin did not. “Help me get her to her room before Father sees her.” “Do you want to kill Wit or shall I, Princeling?” “Oh, this is going to be another team up for us,” Adolin nodded as he took Elebet’s arm from Kaladin. “Come on, Shallan. Let’s move. Maybe that will help sober her up.” Adolin and Shallan took her to her room and Shallan got her undressed and into bed. The next morning Renarin helped her headache, and Elebet vowed not to try any more experiments with Wit. Chapter VIII. GIFTS AND QUARTERS After her drunken confession, Elebet saw even less of Kaladin. She had been too drunk to keep herself from saying things she knew she shouldn’t, but not so drunk that she couldn’t remember what she’d said to him. If she’d thought he avoided her before, she knew it now. She kept her regular routine, riding Belle early in the morning to beat the heat, then going to the barracks to help Sigzil with his duties, and then Rock with warming leftovers for lunch and starting dinner, eating with the men, and then going to the refugee center for the afternoon. It made it easy for him to avoid her. Occasionally she saw him leaving the barracks opposite whatever door she had entered. She didn’t even get a brief greeting when he came to report to her father. He started reporting when she wasn’t there. In the evenings, the family almost made her uncomfortable. Rennarin was quiet if he was with them, but spent a lot of time with Bridge Four. Jasnah had business to attend. Her father and Navani tended to retire to their suite fairly soon after dinner, and Adolin and Shallan were, after all, newly weds, so they retired to their room, too. Elebet felt like an odd part with no place to go except her room, too. She decided she needed color and life in her room, so she started collecting pots and seeds, and with Jon’s help, soon had a riot of rockbuds and vines in her room and on her balcony. There were so many on the balcony, there was barely room for a glider chair and footstool for her to sit and enjoy the evening air and watch the sky. There was always a hope of seeing a glowing man.... One evening Kaladin reported to her father while she was in the family common room, and she was happy when he walked over to her after his report. “May I speak to you, Princess?” “Certainly, Captain. What can I do for you?” She followed him towards the door as he walked that way. He stopped and faced her. She lowered her voice, “I apologize for making a fool of myself and embarrassing you...” “Your father asked me to talk to you,” he interrupted her. “I am concerned about your balcony. The plants. They draw attention to it being your room.” “Why is that a concern?” “It’s not safe.” Elebet frowned. “What does it matter? What more can anyone do to me? Kill me?” Kaladin frowned back. “It would upset your family very much if someone killed you.” Elebet bristled. “I have a Cultivation spren. I am supposed to be a Daughter of Cultivation. The only life I will ever bring into this world is from seeds in a pot. Don’t take that from me, too.” Kaladin’s frown deepened, “Say the words and...” “And what?” She laughed, but there was no humor in it. Her voice was bitter. “I’m not a surgeon, but I do know it takes a mother AND a father, not just words, to make a baby.” A single anger spren erupted at her feet. “I keep my plants.” “Your father said you would be stubborn about this. He hoped you would listen to me. You talk to him and tell him he was right about you, but not me.” He left without asking to be excused. After that, she didn’t see him even in the distance for days. She quietly asked Rock where he was. Rock told her Kaladin and three of his Windrunners has gone to test Jasnah and Navani‘s new spanreed. Panic rose in her. Purple gobs of Fearspren erupted from the ground at her feet. She hadn’t heard anything about the new spanreeds being ready to test. Were they that secret, or was she not paying attention? Rock saw the fearspren and tried to reassure her they would be fine. She thanked him, and went straight to her father. Dalinar was busy. Elebet paced until he was done and she was called into the room where he had all of his plans laid out, maps, models, and the three dimensional light map that Shallan had created and been able to keep charged with Stormlight. “Where is he?” “I can’t tell you exactly because I don’t know.” He knew immediately who she was asking about. “He knows what he’s doing. See that little spanreed over there?” He pointed to a table on the other side of Shallan’s map. “If it’s successful, they’ll send a message over it, and they’ll be home to get more to take all over Alethkar. It will be very useful for us.” Elebet didn’t say anything. She just paced again. “You didn’t know he was going?” “No. Why would I? He doesn’t report to me.” “I thought he might tell you.” “Last time I spoke to him, he wanted me to get rid of my plants, but he didn’t mention that he was going on a mission for you.” She turned to him. “When he gets back—when he gets back,” she said it like she was reassuring herself, “—before you send him back, I have a gift for his brother, and you said I could have one of the new spanreeds as a gift for his parents if they work, for their care and kindnesses to me. Please don’t let him leave until I give him the gifts to take to them. Please?” “I promise.” She hugged him and kissed his cheek, then went to her room. She had the little Ryshadium and rider on a shelf. They were perfect. She wished she could see Ory’s face when he got them. She’d found a couple of simple but colorful pouches for the gifts, and she put the tiny Dreamstorm and Kaladin in one of them. Then she waited. It was torture, and she knew it was going to be the same when he came back—WHEN he came back, he WOULD come back—and left again. It was his job. She had fallen in love with someone who needed to save the world. The signal came the next day. The spanreeds worked. Dalinar made sure she got a pair as her gift, and one fit easily in the pouch. The two pouches would be small enough for Kaladin to carry easily. Now she had to wait on the group to come back to Urithiru. Though they arrived in two days, she still didn’t see Kaladin. The spanreeds were ready to go. Elebet was ready to panic. Kaladin found her in the family quarters the night before he was leaving. She was reading with Shallan, and Adolin was studying the pictures Shallan had drawn of his forms with his Shardblade. “Princess,” he stood almost at attention, like he was reporting to a superior officer. “Your father told me to speak to you before I left.” “Yes. Thank you, Captain. I have gifts for your family.” Kaladin visibility squirmed, “I don’t have much space for carrying gifts, Princess.” “I thought of that. These are small. Excuse me, and I’ll get them.” She returned from her room with the two small pouches. “Small enough?” He nodded, reaching for them, already starting to turn away. “Captain.” “Princess?” “This one is for Oroden,” she said, dumping the little horse and rider out of the pouch. He stopped turning away, taking the toys in one hand. He stared at them, not knowing what to say. Elebet took them from him, placing them back in the pouch. “And this one is for your parents,” she dumped the new spanreeds out. “Of course you keep one in your quarters and take them the other.” He looked at her then, but still didn’t speak. “I thought it would make them happy to be able to keep in touch with you. Let you know if they need help. You let them know you’re ok.” She took them and put them back in the pouch, handing them both to him. “I don’t know what to say. They’re both perfect. Thank you. I know they’ll love them.” “And if you can talk them into coming back with you, I’ll have quarters for them with the surgeons.” “I doubt it. But thank you.” He stood waiting for her to dismiss him, his face a mask. She studied it, looking for the warmth, the kindness that she had once seen. She had seen it, hadn’t she? Or had she just WANTED to see it, NEEDED to see it? “Is there something else, Princess?” She flinched. How long had she been staring at him? “No, Captain. Thank you for delivering the gifts. Be safe.” She made a slight motion with her safehand to the door, and turned back to retrieve her book. Adolin cut his eyes over the top of his handful of papers. “Waiting for a good night kiss, Sis?” Elebet stopped, stiff armed, Angerspren boiling around her feet. “I guess I would be waiting for eternity, then, wouldn’t I? No one will ever want to kiss me goodnight.” She snatched up her book and started for her room. She heard Shallan’s book as it thumped against Adolin. “Ow.” “Hit him harder,” she said over her shoulder. Then she heard the outer door open and close as Kaladin left. Elebet started a new routine the next day. She groomed both mares and rode Belle. She reported to Sigzil and helped him, then went to the quarters she had gotten for Lirin and Hesina. She cleaned, put fresh linens on the beds every few days, and started a garden for them. Rock came every day at lunch to bring leftovers from his previous night’s stew as a welcome meal, and he and Elebet ate the stew from the day before. Sometimes his wife or daughters came, too, and they worked on learning Alethi and women’s writing. She spent the afternoon at the refugee center when needed, but any time she had unoccupied was spent near the Oathgate, hoping the eight Windrunners would return. Rock was on duty at the Oathgate early one morning, and Elebet sat with him, talking. She’d groomed the mares, but not ridden so she could help him pass the time. He had become very dear to her. He knew how she felt about his commander, and seemed to approve. Not that it mattered. It had been weeks, but it felt like months, since Kaladin had left. Her father got short messages from the pairs of Windrunners as they successfully spread the spanreeds around, so she knew he was still alive. Elebet stood and stretched. It was time to go back to the city. Her escorts for the day were more than ready, she was sure. She told Rock goodbye and headed up towards home. She felt like it was home, now. She was over halfway to the tower when she saw the flash of light reflect on the city walls from the Oathgate. She turned and saw nine men on the Oathgate porch. One was giant Rock in his Kholin uniform, and one was definitely Kaladin. The Windrunners were not in uniform, but she was sure from the posture and movement that is was Kal. She didn’t think. She just reacted. She ran. As she ran, Joyspren formed, like blue leaves swirling around her. The men all stopped and watched her. She got close enough to see Kaladin’s face. It slowly dawned on her that he was frowning. The closer she got, the more his expression looked like the Stormfather himself. She slowed to a stop. The Joyspren evaporated, replaced immediately by the floating red and white petals of Shamespen. Elebet just stood as the men walked past her. Kaladin didn’t look at her. She called after him, “Stormblessed! Are your parents coming?” He turned his head but kept walking. “No.” “I’m sorry.” He stopped and turned to face her. “Me, too.” Then he turned back and continued with his men. Elebet stood, eyes welling, not able to control her emotions. She turned to run down the side path around the Oathgate. Rock was still standing there. “I am sorry, Little Bet. He is airsick lowlander.” She couldn’t answer him, and ran on. Rock blocked her escort. “Let her go,” he told them. “Let her cry.” There were cliffs at the end of the path. She ran to them, stood looking over the edge. It was a long, dizzying drop. Why did she always embarrass him or irritate him when all she wanted was to make him happy? She stepped back from the edge and curled into a ball against the mountain wall, crying. Syl’s voice startled her. “He hurt you.” Elebet’s head jerked up at the sound. “Syl? Where’s Kaladin? Is he ok?” Syl stood in the air a few feet from her face, her hair and dress fluttering in the breeze that came over the mountains. “He hurt you and you still want to know if he’s ok? You really do love him.” “How can I lie to an Honorspren?” “I’m sorry he hurt you.” “He didn’t hurt me. I embarrassed him in front of his men. Running like a three year old. Some Alethi woman I am.” She wiped her eyes and nose on her safehand sleeve. “I was just so glad to see him.” Her voice choked off. “You’re right about what he needs,” Syl said. “And I’ve been trying to find the right girl for him. He doesn’t have anyone he likes?” “He won’t admit it.” “So there is somebody? Who?” “Like I said, he won’t admit it, so I can’t say.” “I think Lyn loves him. Is it Lyn?” “Lyn is wrong for him. She doesn’t make him happy.” Elebet wiped her eyes again. “What about you Syl? He loves you. Could you be a person for him, have babies?” “Me? You’d really let someone else marry him when you love him?” “If it made him happy.” “No, I don’t think so, I mean I AM part of a god and part of him, in a way. I don’t see how it would work. I can actually touch him in the Cognitive realm, but he can’t stay there and do what he needs to do here. And spren don’t really have babies. I don’t think.” “But you do love each other, and I know you make him happy.” “Sometimes. Sometimes I irritate him.” “I irritate him or embarrass him all the time.” “Why can’t you marry him?” “I’m not worthy of him. I’m....you know...after....” she wiped her face again. “And I can’t give him children, and he needs a family to be happy.” “Don’t give up on him. He needs you to make him happy.” Elebet stopped crying a little. Syl kissed her on the top of her head and flew away as a ribbon of blue light. Jon curled around her, trying to hug her. “He tries so hard to take care of everyone else, but no one else takes care of him. I will do everything I can to care for him and make him happy.” Jon smiled and held her face in leafy hands. “Sweet girl, these words are accepted.” And Stormlight flooded through her. Kaladin entered his quarters. He’d need to shave and get clean before changing into a uniform to report to Dalinar. As he turned to open the chest to get clean clothes, he saw the new spanreed sitting on a sheet of paper on his desk. He did his best to ignore the emotions he felt, but he would have to find Elebet and thank her. He turned the tiny ruby on the top of the spanreed, wrote the glyphs for safe and home, and turned the ruby again. He knew his parents would be happy. They wouldn’t answer for a few hours as he had warned them to keep any messages from being too close together to attract the screamers and Fused. He got cleaned up and dressed, and was ready to leave when Syl stopped him. She blocked the door, arms folded across her chest. “You hurt her. You made her cry.” “Who?” “Stop. You know perfectly well. Why do you treat her like that when you know she loves you?” He shook his head. “She doesn’t love me. She may have a little crush because I got her out of a bad situation.” “‘Bad situation?’ You risked your life going into enemy territory, unarmed, I might add, to get her out of a horrible situation. Of course she has a crush on you. But it’s so much more than a crush.” “And how do you know that?” “I just do. I can’t tell you.” “You’ve been talking to her?” His voice had a tinge of anger. “How do you think I know she was crying? I followed her after you were so rude to her. She went up on the cliffs on the other side of the Oathgate. She stood on the edge for a long time.” “She doesn’t like heights.” “No, she doesn’t. She backed away, and I talked to her. You need to apologize to her.” “For what? Frowning? She can make fun of me like Shallan.” “Shallan cuts you down. Elebet would NEVER do that.” “I do need to thank her for the gifts she sent my family. Storms. Ory would tell me to hug her for making her cry. And my mother told me to hug her for the spanreed.” He grew quiet. “I can’t hug her, Syl.” “Why not?” “I can’t, ok? I can’t encourage this crush. Nothing can ever happen between us.” “Why? You remember she risked them raping her again to protect you, don’t you? You were a stranger, but she knew you were risking your life for her. She still thinks she’s dirty and broken and unworthy of you. Do you think she’s dirty and unworthy of you, too?” “Of course not! She’s a high princess of Kholinar. I’m a Darkeyes. They’re not going to let her marry me.” Syl sighed. “So you’re just giving up without even trying?” “I’m tired of Lighteyes disappointing me. Now, I need to go report to Dalinar.” As Kaladin walked through the common room, Rock waved him to stop. “Are you going to report now?” “Yes.” “Please stop at surgeons’ quarters on your way and tell Princess I will not be coming today since I don’t need to take stew.” “What are you talking about?” “I took leftovers for your parents, if they came. Princess will be going to clear quarters out since your parents are not coming.” Kaladin scowled at Rock, “Fine. I’m going that way, and I need to speak to her.” “Yes, apology is needed.” “Not you, too.” Rock just nodded his head. He told Kaladin which quarters Elebet had prepared, and went to his kitchen. Kaladin found the quarters. There was a wreath with colorful dried rockbuds on the door. The area was a nice one, neat, clean, with children playing in the huge hallway. He knocked on the door. Elebet’s voice came from inside. “Come on in, Rock! Why are you knocking?” Kaladin opened the door and stepped inside. Elebet’s back was to him. She was bent over a small fabrial heater, taking steaming bowls out of it with hotpad gloves on her hands. He nearly laughed. It was very similar to his first sight of her. She turned with the bowls, and very nearly dropped them when she saw Kaladin. She put the bowls on the counter, pulling off the hotpad gloves. She had a glove on her safehand that matched her dress. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. Rock asked me to stop and tell you he isn’t coming.” He hesitated. At the same time, they both said, “I need to apologize....” Kaladin held up a hand. “Sorry, please let me first. I am sorry I was so rude when we got back. No excuse.” “I apologize for embarrassing you in front of your men. I was acting like a child. Inappropriate.” He smiled at the word. That made her smile, too. “You had to be tired, and disappointed your parents didn’t come with you. No apology is necessary.” “That’s the other reason I stopped. I need to tell you how much they loved the gifts. I sent word to them when I got back to my quarters. I know they appreciate it. And Ory, he loved his, but he fussed at me.” “Fussed at you? Why?” “First he wanted to know why I didn’t bring his Bet with me, and then he wanted to know where the rest of his toys were—Syl, you, your horse, and your funny plant.” “I am not a funny plant,” Jon said from a sunny spot on a table by a large window. “He remembered me?” She put her freehand over her heart. “I was afraid a tiny Syl would be a choking hazard for a little guy.” “Yes. So. I need to go report...” “Wait. Don’t you want to see the quarters? I would really appreciate it if you would tell me if they would have liked it.....so if they ever come, I’ll have something ready for them that they’ll like.” “I need to go...” “Please?” He could see the open kitchen and living area were homey and warm. Elebet had fresh flowers on a couple of tables. The furniture looked comfortable, and there was a dining table with Jon draped over it next to a big picture window overlooking the mountains. Syl had joined Jon, lounging in the air next to him. Elebet pointed out that there were three bedrooms so his father would have an office. “And look out here,” she said leading him to a door next to the window. Outside was a terrace with a play area for Ory and an established garden. “Ele-Princess, this is amazing.” “Helps to have a funny plant as your partner when you’re growing a garden.” “I am NOT a funny plant.” Kaladin smiled at her. “This is perfect. This makes me even more sad they didn’t come. They’d have loved it.” “You’re sad but smiling. My job is done here.” She grinned at him. “I need to go.” “Have you eaten?” “Ahh.” When did you eat last?” “Umm” “Sit, Captain. You have leftover Rock stew ready for you.” “Yes, ma’am. You sound like your father.” Elebet smiled up at him. Her eyes twinkled. “That may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” “Oh, no. Sorry.” “Seriously, sit.” He was hungry, and the stew smelled wonderful. He sat, and then he realized the Princess was serving him, and getting ready to sit at the table with him—alone. She put the bowl of stew in front of him and started to sit when she saw his expression. “What?” “Inappropriate...” “Captain. You’ve seen me naked. How much more inappropriate can we be?” She grinned again. “So worth it to get that shocked expression. It’s almost as good as a smile. But I prefer a smile.” She tilted her head at him. “You like shocking me, don’t you?” “I do. I also like you having a meal in you so you can give a coherent report to my father.” Kaladin hesitated, trying to decide if he should bring up a question. “What?” Storms, she could tell. “Rock eats here with you every day?” She looked him square in the eye. “Yes, sometimes with his wife or daughters. Sometimes both if there’s enough. Then I help them with speaking and writing Alethi. Sometimes not. He’s a good friend, almost like a second father.” She looked at his expression. “I know. Shocking you again.” She held up her gloved safehand. “All the Lighteyes- Darkeyes-men-women things don’t mean so much to me anymore. Women Radiants with Shardblades are shocking, aren’t they? But we have them. Eating a meal with a friend at the same table doesn’t seem as extreme as it used to. You were comfortable enough with me at your family’s table.” He shifted in his chair. “That was probably inappropriate, but I needed to keep an eye on you, and....” His voice trailed off. She smiled a soft, nonjudgmental smile. “You were the perfect guardian. Now I’m going to be the commander. Eat.” As they ate, Kaladin told Elebet about his trip home, Oroden, and a little about the countryside and conditions with the Parshendi. “Do you still feel that the Parshendi are not our true enemies?” “More than ever. It’s a big part of my report to your father.” “He’ll like hearing it.” “And he needs to hear it now.” He groaned. “But now I need a nap. I blame you, woman.” He smiled, but it slowly faded as he looked at her. “Why does that happen?” “What?” “You smile but then you look, I don’t know, sad. You do it all the time. Do I say something, do something?” He looked uncomfortable, “No, of course not.” She knew he wasn’t being honest. “I need to go. Here, let me help you clean this up.” “No, I can do this.” She jumped up, carried her dishes to the sink. “You need to go.” She spun to get his dishes from the table, but he had picked them up and carried them to the sink behind her. She turned and slammed into his chest. He moved his arms out of the way just in time to keep her from knocking the bowl and cup out of his hands, but they ended up around her, with her arms around him. He lowered the dishes to the countertop and rested his hands on her. She had put on just enough firm weight to cover the bones he’d felt the last time he held her. He could feel her heart thumping against him. Or was it his own? “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t realize you...” “It’s ok. I had orders to hug you to thank you for the gifts. And Syl and Rock said I made you cry, and Ory would say I needed to hug you for that, too.” She laid her head on his shoulder. “Thank you. I needed it.” She looked back up at his face. He gently pushed her back, his mask reforming as she watched. “I really need to go. I’d love to stay and watch a princess wash dishes, but your father...” “Go. I don’t want to get you in any more trouble than I already have.” Kaladin left quickly, Sly smiling as she flew past. Elebet didn’t see either one again for a very long time. Chapter IX. CRISPMELON FIGHT Elebet arrived at Bridge Four’s quarters with a load of supplies for Rock. She was very excited. She had FRESH crispmelons. They were delicious. She had gotten enough from the quartermaster for the whole Bridge, and a couple of extra for Kaladin. She knew Rock would keep her secret and not let the others know Kaladin was getting more than the rest, and she felt a little guilty about Rock having to keep a secret for her. Well, it wasn’t the first one. She carried a big basket of the crispmelons into the empty common area, went to the kitchen with them, and found Rock. “You have some men to unload supplies? There’s a lot.” “Of course, little Elebet.” “You called me Elebet. He must not be here.” She looked through the serving counter window towards Kaladin’s quarters. The door was open, to her surprise. “No. Sorry, little one.” “He’s not gone again, is he? I haven’t seen him in....I don’t even know how long.” “No, he is here.” “Just avoiding me.” She tried to remain expressionless even though she wanted to cry. “Well, I have two extras for him.” She held up the basket. “I feel bad about it, so please don’t tell the others.” “Sure, sure. Put them in his quarters and others will never know.” Rock pointed to the open door. Elebet set the basket on the counter and selected two of the biggest crispmelons from it. She half ran to Kaladin’s quarters and then stopped at the door. She peaked in and saw no one. She tapped at the open door to be sure. No answer. She stepped in, trying not to look, but staring anyway. The room was of course neat and clean, but surprisingly empty. A bed, a desk and chair, a chest, and a more comfortable chair with a table between it and the bed. There were lamps on the desk and table, and an assortment of spears hung on the walls. The little spanreed was on the desk, with paper under it. That was it. She crossed the room and stood between the table and the desk, looking for a place to put the crispmelons where anyone passing the open door wouldn’t see them. She saw no place. She held the crispmelons to her chest, thinking, her back to the door. She heard a commotion in the common room as a group came in. She turned as Kaladin walked through the door. “What are you doing in here, Princess?” His voice had an edge to it that surprised her a little. But he HAD been avoiding her. “I brought you a couple extra,” she smiled and held out the crispmelons to him, “and....” “You have no business in here, Princess, and Rock will make sure I get whatever I need.” His voice had more than an edge. Th scowl on his face plainly said he was angry, a single angerspren, like boiling blood, appearing at his feet. Elebet tossed the crispmelons onto his bed and ducked past him out the door. Lopen, Teft, Sigzil, and a few others who had come in with Kaladin were still in the common room, and they watched her dash out the door to where the supply carts were. Kaladin followed her into the common room, the scowl still on his face. “Storming woman! What was she doing in my room?” Rock heard him and came from the kitchen. Lopen shook his head, and he and the rest faced Kaladin. “I told her to put crispmelons in there,” Rock said. “What is problem?” “The problem is she doesn’t belong in my quarters.” Lopen smiled at him. “Gon, any other man would be happy to find a woman in his quarters, especially THAT one.” “Enough! She is Dalinar storming Kholin’s daughter. She doesn’t belong in my quarters. She doesn’t belong here. She’s not Bridge Four. She’s a storming Lighteyes.” “She IS Bridge Four,” Sigzil told him, “and she takes good care of us.” “She is beautiful, sweet girl who loves you, though why, we can’t figure,” Rock said. “I’ve told you before! There are no beautiful Lighteyed women, and I hate storming Lighteyes!” The men were staring over his shoulder, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. Kaladin looked over his shoulder. Elebet was standing just inside the door, holding a basket of crispmelons. She was stone still, her face frozen. He turned, putting his hand to the back of his head. “Storms,” she said, weirdly calm. “Storms. I am the biggest storming idiot on Roshar.” She began pacing back and forth, still holding the basket. “You keep saying I’m Lighteyes and you’re Darkeyes, and I say it doesn’t matter. I don’t care.” She stopped pacing and faced him. “But it matters to you. You care. You HATE Lighteyes. You HATE ME.” She said the last through gritted teeth, her voice cracking. “I am the biggest storming idiot on Roshar.” She turned and started to run out the door, but realized she still had the basket. She turned back, her own boiling angerspren scattering to avoid her feet, marched to Kaladin and shoved the basket into his gut, letting go before he could grasp it. “Have some storming crispmelons!” And she ran from the common room as crispmelons rolled across the floor. Rock folded his arms, frowning at Kaladin. Lopen shook his head, “Gon. Gon, if you hate her, The Lopen will be more than happy to marry her.” Before Kaladin could answer, Rock spoke up. “Airsick lowlander. Why do you hurt this poor girl? You treat her like chull. Maybe YOU are biggest idiot on Roshar.” Lopen agreed. “We say you take that title, Gon.” The others in the room made noises of assent. “You hurt her, Kal. You need to apologize,” Rock ordered him. Kaladin faintly heard Oroden in the back of his mind. “Apologize now, boy,” Teft’s old sergeant’s command voice came through, loud and clear. Kaladin sighed. “I guess I need to. But this is better for her. She needs to not think there will ever be anything between us. I will when I see her.” “Now, Gon.” Rock nodded. “Now.” “I have no idea where she is now.” Syl was enjoying the men ordering Kaladin to do what she wanted to tell him to do. She had been remarkably quiet, but spoke up, “I have an idea where she is. It probably isn’t a good place for her now.” “Where? What do you mean not good for her?” Kaladin’s concern broke through his denial. “The high cliffs on the other side of the Oathgate. I found her crying there once before when you hurt her, remember?” “Where are her escorts?” The two wearing the Whitespine armbands came out of the kitchen. They had no clue she had left. “Storms. Storming woman. Come on, Syl. Show me.” When Kaladin and Syl got outside the city, he drew in Stormlight and fell into the sky, following Syl. As they passed the Oathgate, heading for the cliffs, he saw a flash of light. When they reached the cliffs, Elebet was not standing on the edge like he’d feared. Instead, she was sitting against the rock wall, knees drawn up with her arms wrapped around them, her face buried in her arms. She looked up as he landed in a rush of Stormlight. Jon curled in front of her, his face furious, making threatening motions towards Kaladin with his arms. Elebet was crying. She was ugly crying. Her face was red, tears all over her face, her slave brand standing out on her forehead. He couldn’t let himself risk loving her. But he couldn’t stand seeing her like this. “Is this the spot for the biggest idiot on Roshar? If it is, you’re in my spot.” “Go away!” Her voice was ragged. “No, really. Bridge Four has voted me as biggest idiot on Roshar, so you need to scoot over. My spot.” He sat next to her. “Go away!” She nearly screamed it that time. “Princess, I...” She jumped up, turning to look down at him. “Stay away from me. You made it plain enough. I was too stupid to see it. You can’t be happy around someone you hate.” She backed a step or two. “The only thing I want in this world is for you to be happy, so stay away from me!” She turned and ran. Kaladin wasn’t sure if she was headed for the cliffs or the path that ran back to the Oathgate, but either was bad with her vision clouded by tears. Stormlight gave him speed, and he hurled himself to catch her. She was slippery—that was new—and the only way he could hold her was to stick her to him, wrapping his arms around her from behind. “Stop, Princess. I’m sorry.” With his left arm around her waist and his right over her right shoulder, his hand grasping her left upper arm, she fought a second to slip loose, but knew when he used adhesion on her. She sagged a little then, resting her cheek in the crook of his arm. “I know you’ll never love me, but I can’t bear it if you hate me. Please don’t hate me. Don’t hate me. Don’t hate me.” Her voice trailed weaker and weaker. She ended with a sob, trying to draw breath. “Storms, Bet. Who could hate you? The men are right. I am the biggest idiot. I have the sweetest, smartest girl in love with me, and I treat her like chull slime. But what they don’t know is I’m also the biggest coward.” Elebet twisted a little to look up at him. She didn’t try to get out of his arms. “The man who faced four plated shard bearers with a wooden spear and attacked a chasmfiend alone is a coward? I’ve heard the stories.” Kaladin shrugged his shoulders. “Sounds like those things go in the biggest idiot category.” Elebet snorted and laughed. “Made you smile, bonus, made you laugh. Oh, no, double bonus, made you blow snot bubbles. Here. Have my handkerchief. Why don’t women ever have a handkerchief?” She took the hankie and wiped her face, blew her nose. “Don’t suppose you want it back now. No? That’s why. They’re nasty.” She turned fully in his arms to face him. “So why are you the biggest coward?” “If I love you, they’ll take you away from me. Because no matter what you say, you’re a Lighteyes and I’m a Darkeyes. You are the daughter of Dalinar Kholin and they’re never going to let you marry a slave. And when they give you in marriage to cement an alliance, and you belong to another man, I won’t be able to bear it—if I love you.” “That’s why your brand never heals. You’ll always think of yourself as a slave.” She reached up to his slave brand, then put her free hand on his cheek. His eyes had lost their Stormlight blue and were the warm brown she loved again. “Maybe you ARE a slave still, but to your Radiant Ideals, and I think that’s wonderful. You know my family loves you. My father calls you son, Adolin loves you like a brother, and Renarin almost worships you. And there won’t be a political marriage. It was bad for my parents. You see Father didn’t make Adolin marry for any alliance.” She took her hand down, dropped her eyes. “But it doesn’t matter if you love me or not. I can’t marry you.” “Because I’m a Darkeyes....” “No! Because I can’t give you children, and you need a family. It’s what makes you happy.” “We had this conversation when you were drunk.” “I wasn’t so drunk that I don’t remember. Just too drunk to shut up.” He looked for Jon. Jon and Syl had their arms wrapped around each other. Kaladin laughed. “So, Jon, has she said the words? I saw a flash of Stormlight just before we got here, but she still has her brand.” “Like you, Windrunner, the brand is a mark of her acceptance of her journey. She has said the second and third words. These words have been accepted: ‘I will do everything I can to take care of him and make him happy’ and ‘I will love him even if he hates me.’” Jon nodded. Kaladin’s mouth hung open slightly, a little stunned by the words. How could he keep denying how he felt when she was so fiercely determined to love him? He looked into her eyes, the blue almost shocking surrounded by red from crying. She was everything he knew he wanted: sweet, kind, smart and wise, full of the joy of life and wonder at the world. She had been right about the requirements for his perfect “nice girl.” What she hadn’t added was fierce, brave, and strong, and she was those things, too. He would truly be the biggest idiot on Roshar if he kept denying his feelings. “Third words? Full Radiant?” “Yes.” “Is she healed now?” “She is. She has been. She can have children now.” Kaladin smiled down at Elebet. She looked dumbfounded. “I can? Why didn’t you tell me?” “You didn’t ask,” Jon seemed offended. “You can have babies now. Still love a Darkeyed slave?” There was a hint of uncertainty in his voice, a little fear. Elebet threw her arms around his neck. “More than life and breath and Stormlight,” she breathed. “And I started falling in love with you when you threatened me with a scrub brush.” His brow furrowed. “Are you going to be afraid to make love with a man, after...” “I can’t say, exactly, because I’ve never made love. But I do know I will always—“ “BE safe in my arms,” he finished for her. “You keep asking me if I can make love. Can YOU make love with someone who—“ Kaladin held her and kissed her like he had wished he could for a very long time. Bright crystalline flakes of Passionspren fell around them. When their lips parted, he asked her how she felt. “My toes are curled,” she giggled. “And I am weak in the knees.” “Is that good? Not a bad reaction to a man touching you?” “It’s VERY good. And I will ALWAYS be safe in your arms.” She smiled up at him, “Again. Kiss me again.” So he did. When they needed to breath again, Kaladin grew thoughtful. “We need to talk to your father. I need to talk to your father. Hang on, Jon. We’re going. Oh, can you draw Stormlight? Your eyes need to....not look like you’ve been crying.” She laughed, and Jon helped her cool her eyes. Jon wrapped around Elebet’s waist, as Kaladin drew Stormlight and took them to the city and royal quarters. They found Dalinar in his map room. Elebet stood a step behind Kaladin, one hand on his elbow, smiling at her father. “Sir, I have to report a new Radiant, and if you have time, discuss something personal.” Elebet grinned and nodded to her father. “New Radiant?” He looked at his grinning daughter. “Who?” He winked at her. Jon had left Elebet and crawled over to Dalinar‘s chair. “She has said the words and they have been accepted,” he said, waving at Elebet. “So she’s healed?” Jon nodded to him. “Excellent.” He smiled at his daughter, held his arms out to her. She hugged him. “My little Edgedancer, congratulations.” He looked at Kaladin. “And something personal?” Elebet stepped aside, went across the room and sat while the men talked. “Sir,” Kaladin was careful to keep his voice strong even though he couldn’t quite believe what he was saying to Dalinar Kholin. “I love your daughter and she loves me.” He drew a deep breath. “May I have your permission to marry her?” “Well, I don’t know. This is very irregular.” “Thank you for not saying ‘inappropriate,’” Elebet said from across the room. Dalinar smiled at her. Kaladin looked back at her and cocked an eyebrow. “Do you hear this, Stormfather? What do you think? Captain Kaladin and my Elebet?” There was a distant rumble. “The daughter of my human with the human of my daughter?” Was the rumble laughter? “Is that a spren with her? Yes. Cultivation.” The rumbling laughter grew louder. “A Son of Honor with a Daughter of Cultivation? Unite them!” The rumble faded and Dalinar looked from his daughter to his captain. “You heard him. I won’t question his judgment. I just have one question. What took you so long, son?” And he shook Kaladin’s hand, placing the other hand on his shoulder. “Apparently I am an idiot and a coward, Sir, but she’s helped me overcome them both.” Dalinar laughed. “You are neither, son. We men are hard headed when it comes to listening to women. But the women in this family do their best to keep us in line.” Kaladin smiled, “Elebet has worked long and hard at that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a question to ask your daughter.” He turned, took Elebet by the hand and led her onto the balcony. Jon wrapped around both their waists, and as Syl zipped around them, swirling blue leaves of Joyspren and crystalline flakes of Passionspren stormed around them. Kaladin drew Stormlight and with the woman he loved in his arms, fell into the sky.
  2. Why do you think Kaladin cannot heal or lightweave his slave brands? I wonder if it's because deep inside he doesn't actually want them to disappear, because it represents his bitterness and his painful past. Maybe it's like a metaphor for his harboring hatred for his oppressors, and they won't disappear until he lets that hate go. Idk. Opinions?
  3. So I have developed a small theory to explain a small peculiarity in Stormlight. First however we must explain what I am discussing is. For those unaware during WoR part 2 in chapter 74 pg 326 UK edition the Stormfather calls Kaladin "Child of Tanavast" rather than his usual "Child of Honour". This could at first be interpreted as a typo or continuity error but we also have this accompanying WoB: So we do know there is some significance to this phrase. Here I'm going to propose a small theory as to why that is. Now I don't think there truly is a deep significance to the phrase, I think rather it's a small detail which just informs us of the Stormfathers personality and view of the world more than anything. Most important to this theory though is the Nahel Bond which joins you together at the soul. See I think this messes up with the Stormfathers perception of Kaladin and Syl and as a consequence how we read the conversation. I don't think he's actually calling Kaladin "Child of Tanavast" but Syl that. Due to this bond though he is talking to them both at the same time and as such it looks like he called Kaladin that. Before I get into that though we must cover something else. Tanavast and Honour are two separate things. Tanavast was the holder and Honour the Shard. This is highly important to understanding what's happening here. There is a distinction to be made here and I think it's one the Stormfather is making. Tanavast created Spren himself but after his death Spren are made by other Spren. When the Stormfather says Child of Tanavast I belief he is saying someone who Tanavast himself helped create while Child of Honour is someone made from the Shard but without any guiding hand. Now some my guess that I will say Syl is a Child of Tanavast and see the obvious flaw. Tanavast didn't make Syl the Stormfather did. However I think the term still applies because Tanavast was still alive then. From the Stormfathers perspective he still helped create those Spren. Tanavast was still alive when the Recreance happened. He was still alive when Syl was made meaning he helped guide her creation. Syl is a child of Tanavast. Now from the Stormfathers perspective I think he is both talking to Syl and Kaladin. We get the scene from Kaladins point of view though and as such it all seems like he is speaking to him. Let's just have a look at what he says to each of them under this theory: Under this reading I think it makes sense he's actually talking to Syl. What he's actually saying also makes sense in this context. Not only that but it does seem like a distinction the Stormfather would make. He seems generally upset with humanity after Tanavast's death and making a distinction between Children of Tanavast and Honour is the same in principle but merely extended to Spren this time. This is the only instance of him using Child of Tanavast. So all in all I think based on our current evidence this is the most likely meaning behind the phrase.
  4. Hey guys, so I'm not sure if this is the kind of content you want to see, but I thought it would be fun! You see, I'm not smart enough to contribute to the amazing fan theories, so this is my contribution (; Anyways, so if you're not familiar with the Myer Briggs Type Indicator, it's basically a set of 16 personality types that everyone falls under. (take the test, it's fun) I decided I would try to assign these traits to the Stormlight characters as best I could. If you are familiar (or lowkey obsessed) with MBTI, I hope you can relate with this! Here goes: Kaladin - ISFJ, The Defender. First off, I know the cover image for ISFJ is a smiling, kind woman and that is the exact opposite image that we associate with our boy Kal. But, to quote the article, "Though sensitive, Defenders have excellent analytical abilities; though reserved, they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are generally a conservative type, Defenders are often receptive to change and new ideas." That seems pretty accurate. To break down the different letters, the I stands for Introverted vs Extroverted. We can all agree that Kal is Introverted. S stands for Sensory or obServant vs intuitive. I think as a surgeon, Kal is pretty Sensory. F stands for Feeling vs Thinking, meaning he processes most of his information through emotion. I'd say Kal is a pretty hotheaded guy who doesn't really think before he acts. J means Judging over Perceiving. He is logical and judges situations without the bias of perception. Shallan - ISFP, The Adventurer. I think this is a perfect match. At first I was tempted to say INTP, the Logician, but I think Shallan is more SF than NT. As an artist, she is very Sensory, and as Shallan, she is more of a Feeling person than a Thinking person. She uses the Thinking side of her personality a lot, but her emotions have so much control over her and so much say in her decision-making. As the article says, "Adventurers enjoy upsetting traditional expectations with experiments in beauty and behavior – chances are, they’ve expressed more than once the phrase 'Don’t box me in!'" Shallan most definitely hates being boxed in and trapped, due to her childhood experiences. Another spot-on quote says, "When faced with criticism, it can be a challenge for people with this type to step away from the moment long enough to not get caught up in the heat of the moment." Passionate insult battles, anyone? Adolin - ESFJ, The Consul. I find it hilarious that Adolin and Kaladin are almost identical in personality type, with only the E/I switched. Adolin is the Consul, most definitely. The article says that "Discussing scientific theories or debating European politics isn’t likely to capture Consuls’ interest for too long. Consuls are more concerned with fashion and their appearance, their social status and the standings of other people." That rings a bell to me. We can see that Adolin is a Feeling character rather than a Thinking character. However, he is a Judging character, because he has the innate ability to see people without bias. (Amaram, Sadeas, Kaladin, his dad) Renarin - ISTJ, The Logistician. Honestly, I don't really know Renarin's character too well, so this is a ballpark guess. I am positive that Renarin is Introverted, and I am not sure about the Sensory, but it seems right to me. He is very practical, so I can see him being Sensory. He is definitely a Thinking character, but we don't really know if he's Judging or Perceiving. For now, however, I think Judging is a good guess. Dalinar - ENFJ, The Protagonist. Dalinar is a natural born leader and is amazing at handling people. These traits put him as the Protagonist. "Protagonists radiate authenticity, concern and altruism, unafraid to stand up and speak when they feel something needs to be said... Protagonists easily see people’s motivations and seemingly disconnected events, and are able to bring these ideas together and communicate them as a common goal with an eloquence that is nothing short of mesmerizing." Honestly, the accuracy of this is astounding and a bit creepy. I think Dalinar is the Protagonist poster child. Also, this little quote here, "The interest Protagonists have in others is genuine, almost to a fault – when they believe in someone, they can become too involved in the other person’s problems, and place too much trust in them." Does that sound like a certain Sadeas vs Dalinar situation to you? Bonus note - because parents tend to pass on portions of their personality traits to their kids, we can guess that Shshshsh, Dalinar's mystery wife, is IST-. We can guess that she's IST because Renarin got the I and the T from somewhere and both Adolin and Renarin have an S that didn't come from Dalinar. We don't really know the J/P, because it seems Dalinar passed the J to both Adolin and Renarin. She could be either. Jasnah - ENTJ, The Commander. Jasnah is purely the Commander. The only thing that might be up for debate is the E vs the I, but I think she is more Extroverted than Introverted. She is definitely a Thinking and Judging type, because of her scholarly nature. I think she is iNtuitive over Sensory, but I think we might not know her well enough to discern that. For now, however, I'm sticking with ENTJ. The funny thing is, Shallan is the exact opposite of her, being ISFP, yet the way they interact with others is strikingly similar. Navani - INTP, The Logician. The tagline for the Logician is "Innovative inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge." To me, this describes Navani perfectly. She is the amazingly smart scientist, the adorable nerd and the creative inventor. Navani is an introverted type, but she is so strong around people that we only ever see that side of her around Dalinar. She is an NT, like Jasnah, but she processes information through Perception rather than Judging. This sounds surprising since she is a scientist, but she is a creative and an inventor rather than a scholar. Bonus note - with the info that we have about Jasnah and Navani, we can guess that Gavilar was an E--J. Knowing the little that we know about Gavilar, we can assume he is a Protagonist, like Dalinar. Hoid as Wit - ENTP, the Debater. Hoid is honestly so hard to figure out. This is not my most confident guess, so if you have a better guess please let me know! (Keep in mind we're talking about Hoid as Wit) Wit is definitely Extroverted, moving through the crowds with ease and making fun of talking to people with confidence. "Debaters don’t [play devil's advocate] because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than Debaters, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points." This sounds like Wit to me. His iNtuitiveness allows him to create beautiful stories that apply to other people's specific situations, while his Perception allows him to poke fun at others with scary accuracy. Because he is a Thinking type, he is analytical and has a pretty good reign on his emotions. Bonus! Syl - ENFP, The Campaigner - Syl is ENFP all the way. She's got the childlike wonder and Perception and the iNtuitiveness that guides her decisions as honorspren in what Feels wrong and right. She is almost the opposite of Kaladin, yet their ideals are very similar. I believe this is what attracted her to Kaladin. Pattern - INTP, The Logician. Pattern, our adorable, miniscule scholar! He is the same Personality type as Navani, INTP. We see his Perception in how he views the world, and his iNtuitiveness and Thought through how he learns and applies those worldviews. He is similar to Shallan, but she is an SF and he is an NT. She an artist in her core, but she loves scholarship, and that is what drew Pattern to her. That's it for now! I hope it was understandable to those who have no clue what the MBTI types are :? I tried to do as many characters as I could, but if you want me to expand on this one let me know what characters to do! Also, if you would like to suggest a change in one I did, feel free-- I'd love to hear your opinions on this! Also, if you have any suggestions for Wit's personality that would be awesome (; Let me know your personality type! I'm INFP, and I'd love to chat with y'all about it. Here's the website where I got all my info, and be sure to take the test! (It's free, fun, and it will tell you things about yourself that are creepily accurate) I may do one for Mistborn! If you would like that, let me know. That's all, Catie
  5. I decided on a reread of WoR, and just when we get to the point where he gets arrested after the magnificent battle between 6 shard bearers, I lost respect for Kaladin. Controversial opinion perhaps, but he accepts getting arrested. He backs down from his otherwise accurate accusations against Amaram. When Dalinar challenges him to follow orders, he goes along with it. As I read that section again, about 6 years after I first read it, I couldn't help but think no. That the world doesn't accept that you're right it's their problem. You know you're right. You know that Amaram is lying. You know that he doesn't deserve the position he's at. Arguably you also know that being where he is and who he is, he'll likely influence things in a way that goes poorly. At that point he could easily have said you know what - if you think I'm lying, punish me for slander against Amaram, and enjoy the consequences that'll surely come. Or if you think I'm being honest, then do the right thing, and banish that cremling. Cuz if I go along with this, if I accept punishment for what I know is wrong, them whatever victory we get ultimately will lead to a society that's arguably no better than this one. And I'm not playing that game. Now no one knows what ramifications this could've had, but given he went along with it I just kinda lost respect for him. Especially since a few days later he says I want the lives of people like me to change cuz that's right not cuz I'm part of the aristocracy now. Anywho.. didn't really have a point besides maybe challenging some opinions about what I thought was otherwise one of the leading characters in the series so far.
  6. Near the end of Oathbringer, Lopen is watching Dru care for the wounded and thinks “Loving a soldier was not easy, and now that Kaladin has returned from Alethkar...” I remember someone on bridge 4 was gay -maybe Dru- but is Lopen in a relationship with Dru and is Lopen pining secretly for Kaladin? As the above line implies?
  7. From the album Stormlight Archive Fanart

    Syl as a spear.
  8. From the album Stormlight Archive - fanart

    I redid my Kaladin. This one focuses more on his time in Sadeas’ warcamp on the Shattered Plains (which is supposed to be the background, sorry but I suck at backgrounds).
  9. From the album Cosmeme & Crossmere

    Finally sat down to draw cosmere stuff! Here is a character request meme from twitter and we have a bunch of popular ones here 1st line: Kelsier, Vin, Rashek 2nd line: Shallan, Evil!Dalinar as Odium’s champion, Kaladin 3rd line: Frost, Sazed, Shalash (*Kelsier wink* Thanks for your love <3)
  10. I’m wondering what’s going to happen with Vyre. It seems like there is destined to be a confrontation between he and Kaladin, probably many. Are they turning him into a new supervillain like Amaram? The way Khen and the other parshmen “wanted to be near him” reminded me of the bridgemen’s devotion to Kaladin. Is he taking over from Jezrien in some way, being that he killed him (or trapped him...?) and he has Jez’s Honorblade. Anyway I’m rambling a bit. What do you think Vyre’s role or purpose will be?
  11. @Wiresegal and I patched together Kal's rendition of Frozen's Let it go, as sung by Kaladin from stormlight (Syl too) [she helped with the sylllables] also thanks to @shallan314 for the inspiration (image credit goes to botanica) [Verse 1] [Kaladin] The storm burns bright in my pocket tonight Not a windspren to be seen A kingdom of oaths now broken And it looks like he’s the king The highstorm howls but I've got no storm inside Couldn't keep my Oaths, Tien knows I've tried [Pre-Chorus 1] [Syl] Go lead your men, don't let them see Be the Stormblessed you always had to be Conceal, don't feel, don't let it show Well, now they know! [Chorus 1] [Kaladin] Let it go, let it go I've been here before Let it go, let it go We save them as Bridge Four! I don't care what they all will say Let this storm rage on The winds never bothered me anyway. [Verse 2] [Syl] It's funny how the sky's view Can make everything seem small [Kaladin] And the fears that once destroyed me I push beyond them all! [Pre-Chorus 2] [Sigzil] It's time to see what this can do To test the limits and break through Do right, not wrong, Ideals to keep you're free! [Chorus 2] [Kaladin] Let it go, let it go I am one with the wind and sky Let it go, let it go You'll never see them die Here I stand, in winds I claim Let the storm rage on! [Bridge] [Kaladin] My power banished as I fell below the ground My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around And one thought drives me, even in the darkest night. To protect those I hate, so long as it is right! [Chorus 3] [Kaladin] Let it go, let it go I will stand like a Knight of old Let it go, let it go What's broken shines like gold! [Syl and Kaladin] Here we stand, with our Bond still strong! Let both storms rage on! The skies never bothered us anyway.
  12. In the beginning of TWoK Syl dances "to some unheard rythm". Could this be one of the rythms that the singers attune to, the sound of Roshar?
  13. I haven't seen this theory in the forums, so I thought I would bring it up here. Way of Kings, Page 874 "'...I let Tien die, I failed my spearmen, the slaves I tried to rescue, Tarah...' He hadn't thought of her in some time. His failure with her had been different from the others, but a failure was nonetheless." Page 880 "What would have happened to him, if Tarah hadn't coaxed him out of his single-minded dedication? Would he have burned himself out, as she'd claimed?" So who is Tarah? Facts: - A woman from Kaladin's past who came into his life after he took up the spear. Likely after Tien died, because he wasn't dedicated until after that event. - Someone Kaladin failed, but in a different way than the others. Likely she isn't dead, because all the others died. - She helped Kaladin enjoy more in life than the spear. Kaladin's history with Laral shows he is attracted to women. Kaladin describes Tarah as coaxing him, which sounds like something someone would do with flirting. So if she didn't die, how would he have failed her? Could he have been engaged or even married to her and failed to fulfill his obligation because he was sold into slavery? Maybe Kaladin's heart is already taken.
  14. I was rereading the start of The Way of Kings, and a sentence caught my eye. It was during the chapter from Cenn's perspective, when Kaladin and Dallet are discussing a lighted officer who had just come onto the battlefield. "Kaladin turned toward Dallet. 'That's one of Hallaw's officers. He might be the one.'" (Page 34.) Does anyone know what he meant by that? I think I'm missing something. I initially thought that he just meant that killing the brightlord would get his squad to the Shattered Plains, but that doesn't make sense with what comes next. "'You don't know that, sir.' 'Regardless, he's a battalionlord. If we kill an officer that high, we’re all but guaranteed to be in the next group sent to the Shattered Plains. We’re taking him.'" So what does he mean by "the one", then? What have I forgotten?
  15. I don't know if that has been discussed before, I searched but didn't find a thread specifically on this or a WoB. Ever since I reread SA last fall I've been thinking about ch. 46 of WoK. There, Kaladin is referred to by Stormfather as "Child of Honor, Child of Tanavast". That's the only time in all three books anyone is called "Child of Tanavast", where I remember several times that different characters are referred to as "Child of Honor". So was it mere coincidence that the Stormfather used "Tanavast" this one time, or is there more to it? What I keep asking myself is, did Tanavast father children? Are there living descendants of the human/Shardholder Tanavast on Roshar? Like Kaladin? Concerning Honor and the "bigger" Cosmere and Adonalsium-related stuff, Dalinar has been the centre of attention. (That's why, to me, Dalinar is closer to being the "main protagonist" despite having much a much smaller word count than Kaladin. It's really just this one time Stormfather called Kaladin "Child of Tanavast" that made me think about this. Is there more to it? Or is it a coincidence and I'm just too paranoid because I don't believe in coincidences in the Cosmere anymore?
  16. immortal words

    Ok, so I saw this Magic: the gathering card, and the flavor text sounds like it could be Kaladin’s next oath.
  17. I have fan fiction I would like to share—about a girl for Kaladin. Ultimate hubris, I know.
  18. Something I just quickly wanted to bring to light: after three, gigantic books that have spent time focusing on him, we still don't know the entire story of why Kaladin distrusts lighteyes so much. While we definitely see his resentment beginning to dampen, the main causes are not all fleshed out yet. While the obvious ones (Roshone and Amaram) have been addressed, and their arc in his storyline almost, if not completely, done with, that still leaves ones example of betrayal in Kaladin's past that is unaccounted for. And that's where Katarotam comes in. If you don't remember that name, I can't blame you in the slightest as I forgot it myself since it was mentioned only one time in the entire series thus far. From The Way of Kings; Chapter 4, pg. 82: "Under previous masters, he'd demanded his wages be given to him. They had always found ways to cheat him- charging for his housing, his food. That's how lighteyes were. Roshone, Amaram, Katarotam . . . Each lighteyes Kaladin had known, whether as a slave or a free man, had shown himself to be corrupt to the core, for all his outward poise and beauty. They were like rotting corpses clothed in beautiful silk." However, even with this being his only mention the reader can see the obvious mark this man, Katarotam, left on Kaladin. This raises the question: Who was Katarotam, and what did he do? While from the text and timeline it's obvious to tell that Katarotam came into Kaladin's life during his enslavement, there is no way to tell the specifics of that as Kaladin said himself that he's, "changed hands a half-dozen times" (pg. 76) since his enslavement. Though with Kaladin choosing Katarotam to be among the men who has hurt Kaladin the most, we can assume that he had left a big impression and I therefore have three possible reasons for this: 1.) Katarotam was the first master to be over Kaladin. This would make sense as he would inevitable leave a lasting impression on Kaladin, and could even explain how he would manage to betray him. With Kaladin going from 'youngest squad leader in Amaram's army' to 'disgrace slave' in just one day, it would make sense that he wouldn't really know what to do with himself at first. And with no experience in surviving or even living the life of a slave, Kaladin would have no way of knowing what the average life of a slave would be. With that opening, he may have seen Katarotam as he once did Amaram: a man who cared for those under him. Perhaps Kaladin thought he got lucky and ended up with a master who was lenient, but later proved himself to be brutal? 2.) Katarotam was one of the most brutal masters This is one of the more simple reasons: Kaladin had suffered the worst of his times as a slave under Katarotam. This could still go in a number of ways though- with Katarotam being brutal because he was a horrible man, plain and simple, or being brutal specifically to Kaladin because he had heard of his escape attempts and wished to break him, or perhaps he noticed that Kaladin (a tall, well-built, natural leader) would ultimately bring hope to the other slaves and decided to use him as an example. While I'd say this is plausible, I don't think it's very likely as this leaves no room for betrayal, no room for Katarotam to hide himself behind poise and beauty as Kaladin specifically mentioned in the text. While those examples may refer specifically to Roshone and Amaram (though I don't see how it fits to Roshone seeing as he had it out for Kaladin's family at the beginning) the pause between the mention of Katarotam and the descritpors leads me to believe that most of it was inspired by Katarotam himself. 3.) Katarotam was the one to give Kalain the shash brand This is the most likely of the possibilities to me as the pain of the branding and the long term consequences it would have on his life would definitely be enough of a reason for Katarotam to be up with Roshone and Amaram. Not to mention the branding takes place just shortly before Kaladin's perspective starts in the first book, with his last master making the decision to brand him 'dangerous.' Not only does it make it recent, life changing, and painful, but it also opens Kaladin up to betrayal. This is where the reasoning would spread out a bit, with a number of possibilities being present to why Kaladin would consider Katarotam to be a prime example of how lighteyes are always different from how they prevent themselves. One reason could be referred back to reason 1, Katarotam had somehow convinced Kaladin that he cared for his slaves. Though this seems a bit flimsy to me, it could also be a good reason for how Kaladin can't even bring himself to fully trust low-ranking lighteyes. Another reason could be that Katarotam used bribery to earn loyalty from his slaves, promising them extra pay or even a chance at freedom if they do their work just right. This could to Kaladin to discovering he's a fraud, ultimately leading to the branding. These are just my thoughts, obviously we have very little to go off as he's only mentioned in one chapter but I do believe Katarotam will make an appearance in the form of a flashback in the next book (Slight Spoiler) - much like it did with Tarah- by that I mean her rarely being mentioned until we eventually met her in Oathbringer.
  19. From the album Windrunner

    Started rereading The Stormlight Archive again recently and took the time to draw Kaladin (falling but with style!) Also on twitter!
  20. From the album General SA Art

    This commission took me more than two months… and woah, finally, I have another version of WoK main cast! (2013 version is here.) My personal fave is probably Navani =) This set: Kaladin | Shallan | Syl | Szeth | Navani | Wit | Adolin | Dalinar (Viewing separately) Sketches on paper: Development meme:
  21. This is really just a discussion for everyone to add their ideas onto, but to get it started off: Whether a member dies while fighting the fused, a freak accident, or while protecting someone else, the most likely candidates for who I think will kick the bucket in Bridge 4 would have to be Lopen, Rock, and Teft. While I don't necessarily think they'll have to die in order for Kaladin to swear the 4th ideal, I do think their deaths could be his breaking point. And if there's anything that Sanderson likes to do with characters, it's break them. After working so hard to protect Bridge 4 and essentially bring them out of the trenches, it would tear Kaladin apart to see one of them die- or even get injured as we saw in Words of Radiance with Hobber. So while that's true, the most impactful deaths for the reader would be a character that we've been the given the chance to get to know. And so that brings my first candidate, Lopen. I have to say that he is the most probable character for me as of now. Lopen is sort of like a class-clown in Bridge 4 in that he tends to mess and joke around much more than the others, and so it would come as a shock to the readers to suddenly have him cut down and die, leaving a hole in Bridge 4. Without Lopen, they'd be out of a serious need for laughter and light-heartedness and anyone who knows Bridge 4's story knows that that's something they desperately need. Next up is Rock, but I will admit that I don't think Sanderson will kill Rock- at least not in the first half of the books. The biggest reason he just made my list is because of how much it would hurt the readers. Rock has been a big figure in Bridge 4 since the beginning, and with just that it would make his death heartbreaking. But adding on to how we were able to meet his family in Oathbringer and seeing just how much he cares about everyone around him with the chapters from his point-of-view, the readers would definitely be in tears. Add on the possibility of him dying while trying to tell Kaladin about the Horneater Peaks (of which he always told Kaladin he'd bring him to) and Sanderson has a whole fanbase weeping. Now is the time for Teft. Teft's death seems both logical and inevitable to me. He served as a friend and leader to Bridge 4 and was a major reason for them getting as strong as they currently are with him helping to train them. The only person to play a bigger role in the rehabilitation of Bridge 4 is Kaladin, and Kaladin himself holds high respect for Teft. Bottom line, his death would be devastating to the moral of Bridge 4. Without Teft, I'm not entirely sure how Bridge 4 would carry on. Everything they would do would remind them that Teft isn't there as it was Teft who helped to train them with the spear, first told them of the Radiant powers with Kaladin, and essentially acted as a grumpy uncle. That's all from me. Tell me what you guys think! How would the other members react to one of their own dying? What would it mean for the story? HOW do you think they'd die?
  22. (NOTE: In this thread I am only talking about emotionally intimate relationships. This does not mean that relationships are necessarily romantic or platonic—they can be either—but rather relationships of mutually deep emotional support. Please keep the discussion to this idea—romantic development can certainly be an eventual possibility, but it is not the focus of this discussion.) Before we get into this discussion, let me start by quoting part of a post here to see where this thread is stemming from: One of the things that Kaladin is severely lacking in his life are people that he shares an intimate emotional connection with. To date, there have been two that we have seen either implicitly or explicitly on screen: Tien, and Shallan. This emotional absence is, in large part I feel, why Kaladin is stuck in such a rut. He feels like he can’t confide in anyone, that he has to shoulder this darkness by himself, that no one else can possibly understand what he is going through—and for those of you unaware, this is textbook depression speak. Tien and Shallan both helped to banish the darkness. Tien was a beacon of light for Kaladin, Shallan someone was able to cut right through all of his walls and see to the heart of who he was. Aside from these two, however, Kaladin lets very few people in to see the true him. Who are some people that you think Kaladin could develop an intimate connection with? I have three in mind. Adolin Provided that there is no subsequent bad blood between these two over Shallan (and I doubt there would be, considering), and also provided that Adolin doesn’t spend the whole book around Shallan, I think there is the possibility that Kaladin and Adolin could reach some level of emotional depth. Adolin has shown remarkable insight into Kaladin and what Kaladin needs in trying times. Where I am concerned with this relationship is that Kaladin, despite liking Adolin and enjoying his company, has never really let Adolin in. Most of the “truths” he’s told Adolin are surface level things he’s told many others—such as Dalinar, Moash, and most of Bridge 4. In order for this pairing to work, Kaladin would need to open up to Adolin about his depression and despair, and a whole slew of other things, and Adolin in return would need to not brush off this conversation or divert it to an unrelated or easier topic, as he’s done repeatedly with his wife. Teft Oh, Teft. My heart goes out to you. One of the things that strikes me about Teft is that Teft is familiar with the darkness of depression, like Kaladin. This is a potential bonding point for the two of them. Teft has shown good insight into what Kaladin needs to do, especially with respect to appealing to Kaladin’s duty to his friends and those under his command. Where I worry about Teft is with his addictions. It’s very difficult to develop and maintain an emotionally intimate relationship if one person is constantly relying on the other. Further, Kaladin and Teft are two people who have lived a long time walling themselves off from others—one because he cares too much, one because he worries of failure. In this regard, they are very similar, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing—though I definitely believe that the potential is there for them to draw strength from each other if they could respectively let down their own walls. Jasnah Okay, that groan was audible, guys. Hear me out. I don’t mean this one romantically (though I’d totally be okay for it progressing to that point)—I mean this platonically. Presumably, with Jasnah now as “King” and Kaladin sworn to the protection of the King and his family, these two will spend a bit of time together. Though, yes, Jasnah and Kaladin might butt heads initially, I think there’s potential for both to develop an emotional connection. Their responsibilities are monumentally taxing, and both have had to shoulder their burdens alone for a long, long time. Jasnah has fought every day since her father’s death for a reason, for understanding, and to make the world a better place. Almost as a mirror, Kaladin has fought every day since his brother’s death to help others, to give misfits a place of safety, and to find purpose in his life. Both have lived a lot of their lives in isolation—much of it self-imposed. It’s not a stretch to believe that by virtue of time together, they’d eventually reach an understanding of each other and why they act the way they do, and Jasnah is blunt enough to cut to the heart of Kaladin’s issues without giving him leeway to escape. Kaladin, in reverse, is mature enough to appreciate Jasnah’s independence and drive—and oppose it when he feels the need to, which is something very few people seem inclined to give her. My biggest concern here, however, is that there just isn’t a lot to go off of with these two. A lot of it is conjecture on my part based on my own understanding of their characters. Anyway, what do you all think? Who out there could Kaladin develop an intimate friendship with, based on what we have so far? Because I think this kind of friendship—romantic or not—is absolutely vital to his development from this point on. Kaladin needs friends.
  23. From the album 3D Art

    Kaladin Fan Art, I plan to redo him next time clean shaven and in Kholin Blue Check out my artstation too https://www.artstation.com/artwork/2xO0vY
  24. From the album 3D Art

    Hmmm could be better but calling this done. Off to make a new one.