The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become a legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
Eastward the wind blew, descending from lofty mountains and coursing over desolate hills. It passed into the place known as the Westwood, an area that had once flourished with pine and leatherleaf. Here, the wind found little more than tangled underbrush, thick save around an occasional towering oak. Those looked stricken by disease, bark peeling free, branches drooping. Elsewhere needles had fallen from pines, draping the ground in a brown blanket. None of the skeletal branches of the Westwood put forth buds.
North and eastward the wind blew, across underbrush that crunched and cracked as it shook. It was night, and scrawny foxes picked over the rotting ground, searching in vain for prey or carrion. No spring birds had come to call, and—most telling—the howls of wolves had gone silent across the land.
Pevara did her very best to pretend that she was not terrified. If these Asha’man had known her, they’d have realized that sitting still and quiet was not her natural state. She retreated to basic Aes Sedai training: appearing in control when she felt anything but. She forced herself to rise. Cancer and Emarin had withdrawn to visit the Two Rivers lads and make sure they were going about in pairs. That left only her and Androl again. He quietly tinkered with his leather straps as the rain continued outside. He used two needles at once to stitch, crossing the holes on either side. The man had the concentration of a master craftsman.
Pevara strolled over, causing him to look up sharply when she drew closer. She stared out of the windows. The rain had grown worse, splashing curtains of water against the glass. “After so many weeks of looking as if it would storm at any moment, it finally comes.” “Those clouds had to break open eventually, ” Androl said. “The rain doesn’t feel natural, ” she said, hands clasped behind her. She could feel the coldness through the glass. “It doesn’t ebb and flow. Just the same steady torrent. A great deal of lightning, but very little thunder.”
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