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The other orders must be returning as well. We need to find those whom the spren have chosen. Quickly, for the Everstorm is upon us, and it is worse than we feared. Kaladin thought the words over and over again, hoping to drown out the guilt he felt with his sense of duty. Dalinar was right. Storm the man, but he was. As much as he wanted to... no, needed to go home, to make sure his parents were safe, he just couldn’t. He had accepted what he was and declared it to the world, which meant he had a great deal of new responsibilities to worry about beyond his own selfish concerns. “They’ll be alright,” Syl assured him, glowing softly as she paced the length of his shoulder, in a noticeably unassuring way. What did she have to be nervous about, anyway? It’s not like she had to make the tough choice of abandoning her family for the sake of the world. For the Everstorm is upon us, and it is worse than we feared. Storm Dalinar, and storm Shallan, too! The Oathgates are using too much Stormlight. She said as soon as Kaladin mentioned his plan to return home. Already we run low on infused spheres. Would you have us condemn all the warcamp refugees to weather a highstorm in the middle of the Shattered Plains, just so that you have a small chance of saving your parents? I get how hard it must be to accept, but we’re Radiants now; aren’t we? We’ve got to think for more than just ourselves. Easy for her to say, with her family safe and on their way. But still! Storm her for being right, too. Seeing Dalinar nod in agreement, he almost yelled right then. But suddenly Renarin was there, touching his arm gently. Not to reassure him like Syl was trying now, but to let him know if the situation were reversed, he would feel exactly the same. Kaladin would be too late, anyway. Deep down he knew that. He might own the winds, but he could not outrun the storm. A voice in the back of his head - not Syl, but something else, something foreign - told him that if he tried, he’d end up miles outside of Hearthstone, stranded on foot with no Stormlight to spare. By the time he reached home the streets would already be empty, some houses crushed to rubble, others cast aside, as if they hadn’t already stood for centuries against raging winds and torrential downpours. But this storm was different, of course. It belonged not to the Stormfather, but to who Syl called the One Who Hates. Kaladin had seen what the Everstorm was capable during his battle with the Assassin in White. An entire plateau got tossed in the air, had nearly splattered his foe before gravity could drag it back down to where it belonged. What resistance could a little town like his put up against a tempest like that? He was thinking too much. Always thinking too much. Where the Braize are they, anyway? It wasn’t like Bridge Four to be late. Perhaps they got lost? Kaladin supposed he couldn’t blame them. It’s not like they could fly like him - not yet, at least - and this tower-city-whatever was practically a maze. Still, the man was bothered. Ever since his time in that cell, it sickened him to be alone. Usually Syl was sufficient company, but whenever she was like this, she only worsened his mood. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked, finally. “Hm?” Syl responded, finally still now that she was drawn out of her thoughts. “Oh, nothing.” “Oh? So what, you’re lying to me now? I thought you were a spren of honor, not lies.” “I’ve said it once before, Kal-a-din, but I’m no cryptic! You asked what’s wrong with me, and the answer is nothing! But something is wrong, of that much, I am certain.” “What, then? Is it Him again?” “No… I don’t think this feeling is His doing. It doesn’t reek of His touch. Not directly, at least. But it might be just as terrible.” Great, Kaladin groaned internally. As if there weren’t enough obstacles in his way already. “Someone comes,” Syl said, suddenly turning into a ribbon of light and zipping towards the stairs that lay behind him. “Hello Skar!” she shouted, surprising the man as he rose from the steps below. “Woah!” Skar yelled, startled by Syl’s enthusiastic welcome. The man could see her ever since becoming Kaladin’s Squire, though he still wasn’t used to her presence. Once she calmed down and landed on his shoulder, however, he settled down. Over the other shoulder, Drehy poked his balding head, a wide grin parting his face. “Good morning, Syl. I trust your day is going well?” “Better now that you’re here, Lanky!” she said, becoming a ribbon of light once more to greet him as she did Skar. When she landed on his shoulder, though, a pang of jealousy resonated in Kaladin’s heart. But why? These were his friends. More than that, now, what with the Bond they shared. Why did it matter if Syl became friends with them too? She was friends with Rock, before, and Sigzil too, and he never envied the attention she gave them. And yet somehow this was different. No matter. Skar was walking up to him now, Drehy trailing from behind. Stepping together, they saluted him, not in the Alethi way, but with their hands before them, crossed at the wrists. The way he taught them. The Bridge Four way. These were Kaladin’s brothers. His Squires. The envy dissipated from him even before Syl left Drehy’s shoulder for his own. “At ease, men. What took you so long?” “News, sir,” Drehy responded before Skar could open his mouth. “Important news. But before you ask, may I suggest we save it for after the demonstration?” Kaladin probed the taller man’s eyes, then glanced at his companion, who nodded in agreement. “We have time. I’ll hear it now.” Despite the frigid air at this altitude, Kaladin noticed the two men were sweating. “Well,” Drehy dragged on, “if you really want to know-” “Sadeas is dead. Assassinated, it seems.” Kaladin’s face didn’t change, though in that moment, he thought it should have. He already knew, of course. Until now, he thought he was the only man who did know. Aside from Adolin, of course. The man who killed him, then out of desperation, confided not to his father, his brother or his lover, but to him. “Do they know who did it?” Drehy gulped inaudibly, but Skar simply shook his head. “Don’t worry, I had nothing to do it with it,” Kaladin said, and Drehy relaxed. “If I did, I’d have broken my Oaths. Syl would be dead and you two would be ordinary men once more,” he explained, leaving out the rest of what he wanted to say. As much as he hated keeping secrets, he made a vow of silence to the princeling. Kaladin just hoped Adolin took his advice in return. If Dalinar found out his own son had murdered a Highprince, as traitorous a Highprince he might be, from any other source… That was a storm not even Kaladin would dare face. In his periphery a light flashed. It was distant, but large; a giant column of luminescence that quickly faded, leaving a brief afterimage in its place. “Enough talk,” Kaladin told them, rolling his shoulders, as if he needed to stretch. “It’s nearly time. Are you two ready?” Skar and Drehy began to glow, then nodded eagerly. “Well then, let’s get this show over with, already.” Despite his nonchalance, even Kaladin was a little bit excited. Throughout his life, Lomot had seen many beautiful things. But looking at the shining tower that had just faded to life before him, they seemed nothing more than pallid glimmers in comparison. He arrived with a crowd. Around him, men, women and even a few children gasped and glared as the curtain of light fell to reveal the City in the Sky, as their guides liked to call it. Looking at Urithiru now, Lomot decided to call it by a different name. Something simpler, and more accurate. Perfection. Stepping closer, failing to notice the youth he had to shoulder to get by, Lomot took a deep breath. After such a long, arduous journey across those blasted plains, he had finally reached his promised destination. A place of dreams. A place of wonder. A place he knew in his heart, he was always meant to be. As he walked a gloryspren popped into existence, a golden sun among a sea of awespren. Like most spren he’d seen before, he ignored it. There were more important things to look at, after all. Eyes slowly climbing up the height of the tower, Lomot counted the number of ridges first, wondering if what they said was true. It took some time, but he smiled once he finished, glad that it was true. A hundred floors. Ten by ten. Perfection. Before he knew it, Lomot was nearing the end of a bridge, narrow unlike the fat disc on which he traveled. Behind him, a river of people tread in his wake, a few rushing past him, more eager to get close than to bask in the place’s majesty. Further back, some more still remained upon the magic platform, stunned by the sheer scope of what they saw. Closer now, he could make out the wide variety of plantlife that comprised the garden’s upon each of the ninety-nine balcony’s leading to the top. He could see the tiny figures of people walking those same gardens, many of which seemed to be tending to them. For a moment his eyes lingered there, appreciating its beauty, as he so often loved to do, but then a blast like thunder rang from the sky, and everyone cast their eyes upwards at once. Three men - glowing men - rocketed towards them from above. A few people shouted, scrambled to get out of the way, but Lomot was too amazed to move. Several feet ahead of them, the first of them crashed, a glyph of frost expanding behind him like a pair of wings. The man had landed in a crouch unscathed, long, dark hair billowing behind him, his uniform a crisp, Kholin blue. Wisps of shimmering steam trailed from his mouth, seemed to leak from the pores of his exposed skin. His head snapped up, glacial ices locking with Lomot’s an instant before he spun to meet his attackers. Something like mist coalesced in the man’s hands, taking the shape of a silvery spear, it’s tip bearing azure swirls that shined even in the daylight. They came upon him together, two luminescent comets with spears of their own. Their weapons didn’t glow like his, however. They looked like they were carved from wood and Soulcast into steel. His seemed to be made of the same material as a Shardblade. And yet when they collided with all the force of their descent, the two men’s spears did not break. A ripple of pressure burst from the impact, causing Lomot to stumble back, but not nearly as far as those two men were sent. They recovered midair, however, flipping and landing on their feet with unfathomable grace. What happened next, Lomot could barely process. The three men’s movements were so fast, so incredibly precise. In their hands, their weapons were a storm. Miniature tornadoes, caught in a never-ending dance. Despite being outnumbered, the man with the long hair held them back. In fact, he even seemed to be winning. While his opponents began to slow, his movements only became swifter, stronger. They tried to get around him, to divide his attention, but it was almost like their opponent had eyes on the back of his head. They couldn’t best him. They knew they couldn’t best him. And yet they still tried with every bit of power they had left. Were these the Knights Radiant? The men Lomot sought to join? As he watched their fight unfold, up until the very moment that it came to a stunning end, he not once doubted himself. Not once lost his resolve in coming here. The whole time, he only had one thought. Throughout his life, Lomot had seen many beautiful things. But looking at the shining knights that just battled gallantly before him, they seemed nothing more than pallid glimmers in comparison. YOU’RE A FOOL, DALINAR KHOLIN. The Stormfather’s voice was as loud as thunder, but as usual, only one man could hear it. If not for the youth bowing on the platform before him and the large procession of people watching from below, Dalinar might have responded to the god’s taunting just then. But alas, he had more important matters to attend to. “Speak the words,” he told the boy. “Life before death.” He began, a tint of fear coloring his voice. He knew the words, sure, but Dalinar could tell he didn’t believe them. At this rate, he was never going to find any Initiates - the term he had been using for those who were spiritually ready for a Bond, but lacked a spren to Bond with. “Strength before weakness,” the boy said, firmer now, though he could not hide the trembling of his hands. Idly, Dalinar wondered what brought this young man here today. The boy was thin in his fashionable - albeit dirty - garbs. His hands seemed tiny, frail. Barren of calluses and scars. Something told him that this child had never known true hardship until his journey to Urithiru; not the kind that created Knights, at least. YOU’RE WASTING YOUR TIME. Dalinar almost sighed. “Journey before destination,” the boy finished, then looked up, eyes pleading. Dalinar could see the desire there. So then it’s glory he seeks. Power, perhaps. Or maybe something more innocent. Maybe he just wants to be a hero. Either way, the Highprince - no, Bondsmith - knew what the result would be. Still, he held the diamond broam out in the palm of his hands. “Breath deep, and we’ll know if your heart is true.” The youth breathed. Nothing happened. “I’m sorry,” he whispered before the boy began his sulky descent. WHEN WILL YOU BE DONE WITH THIS FARCE? I HAVE IMPORTANT MATTERS TO DISCUSS WITH YOU. “I’ll be done when they’re done,” Dalinar said, nodding to those whom still remained down below. Already another climbed the steps to him. Another noble by the look of his clothes. He didn’t even move out of the way as the lad got near, the boy’s head too low to see him coming. Of course, why should a man of his stature move for a mere child? Bah! By the look of his gait, that man was almost as bad as Sadeas. Sadeas… he thought with sad regret. To Dalinar’s surprise, the noble stopped before reaching the boy, looking at him curiously, as if noticing him for the first time. He squat low so that he could look him in the eyes, then with a finger, tilted the boy’s chin up so he could look in his. Words passed between them, their conversation concise, but when they parted ways, the boy held his head a little bit higher. Could it be that Dalinar misjudged him? DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP. When the blonde nobleman reached him, there was no hesitance in his bow. It wasn’t practiced, Dalinar could tell that much, but the man was confident. Taking a knee, the noble looked up at Dalinar, dark orange eyes peering unwaveringly into his. Something about them stood out, too. Was that eyeliner? And his cheeks... they were abnormally red, even for the cold, and dusted with glitter, his lips painted a deep shade of violet. Just who was this man? Darkeyed and dressed like a noble, his face accented with make up... Dalinar had never seen no one like him in his life. Nevertheless, he would allow him the same chance. "Speak the words," he told the man. “Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.” After twelve failures, Dalinar finally met a man who spoke the words as if they were own. There was a rumbling in the distance, one that only the Bondsmith could here. The Stormfather, it seemed, wasn't very happy. But just to be sure, Dalinar held the diamond broam before him. “Breath deep, and-” The man breathed deep indeed, nostrils flaring, stormlight flowing from the sphere to him, alighting his eyes, his skin. He smiled, revealing two rows of teeth, sheathed in gold, streams of light leaking from the cracks between them. “What is your name, Initiate?” “Lomot. ‘Tis the only name I have that matters.” “Very well. Then turn, Lomot, so that I might declare you to the world.” As Dalinar commanded, Lomot obeyed. Above them, something flew by, a gust of wind following close behind. A moment later, a cloak drifted down, solid gold silk with the symbol of the Knights Radiant stitched on the back in black. Like thunder, Dalinar’s own voice boomed throughout Urithiru. “Before you stands Lomot. He has spoken the First Ideal, and light reveals that his heart is worthy of the Oath. Thus an Initiate is sworn to serve. For the good of Man, and for the good of Roshar.” As Dalinar tied the cape around the Initiate’s shoulders, he couldn’t help but grin. A fool, am I? It felt good proving a god wrong. Once finished with the knot, Dalinar grabbed Lomot’s shoulders and turned him so that he could look into his eyes once more. “That boy. What did you tell him?” The Initiate smiled. No, he beamed. “The boy? Why, I simply told him the truth.”