Amahra pulled on the reins and caused her horse to stop short, even as Mallah turned in her saddle to look down the street they had come. It was apparent that Mallah felt it too: Someone had channeled nearby. The streets of Caemlyn were busy, packed with vendors and shops, pedestrians and riders. Anyone could have been the source of the channeling. Amahra could not see the distinctive glow of a potential channeler, but knew that the woman that had channeled must be nearby.
Mallah turned her horse around in the street, and pursed her lips. As she gazed thoughtfully down the street, Amahra tried to second-guess what Mallah was thinking about. The Brown Aes Sedai was enigmatic as usual, but Amahra hoped that she would decide to investigate. Mallahâ€™s Warder Quahlen remained as placid as usual, scanning the streets for any threats that may arise.
The trip from Tar Valon had been uneventful so far, starting with an enjoyable boat ride down the Erinin before disembarking at Aringill and riding to Caemlyn. She had never been to Caemlyn before, and had a difficult time remaining calm as she took in the sights of this beautiful city. The Inner City was impressive, with its Ogier-sculpted buildings and glittering domes. It didnâ€™t quite compare with Tar Valon for beauty, but it was still a breathtaking site. She had wanted to see more, and visit the Royal Library, but Mallah seemed disinclined to venture too far into the new city, stating that they had no business to conduct there. Amahra wasnâ€™t sure, but she suspected that the fact that Elaida resided there had influence in Mallahâ€™s decision, too. Amahra didnâ€™t know what Mallahâ€™s opinion was of Elaida Sedai, but Amahra personally disliked the woman, finding her to be extremely ill-tempered and impatient.
A thought caused her stomach to clench and turn cold: What if it was Elaida Sedai that had channeled? She was certainly in this city, somewhere... She tried to steel herself against the possibility, and tried to find comfort in the fact that if the person that channeled WAS Elaida Sedai, then Mallah Sedai would most likely be the focus of her attention.
As one, Mallah and her Warder Quahlen began moving back along the street, in the direction that they had come. Amahra followed along behind, eagerness to discover who the channeler was battling with fear that she might end up meeting with Elaida. She rode along with them, keeping her eyes open for any woman that might have the spark. They backtracked up along the street that they had traveled, and then turned down another busy street that seemed to have a lot more commercial activity. Amahra didnâ€™t see anyone with the spark, but she did notice a dust-coated Shienaran picking himself slowly up off the ground, and dusting himself off. A crowd had begun to assemble around the Shienaran, but quickly dispersed in a wake of whispered words about an â€œangered Aes Sedai.â€ Mallah headed straight toward him, while Quahlen seemed to shift in his saddle with his hand upon his sword, apparently ready for anything. The Shienaran bowed slowly but carefully to the Aes Sedai and her Warder, but paid close attention to something in the alleyway.
Mallah, too, seemed to have her attention on the alleyway, all but ignoring the Shienaran as she dismounted and briskly walked toward the dim opening at the side of a small tavern. Quahlen followed behind his Aes Sedai, keeping a close eye on the Shienaran as he advanced. The Shienaran tried to greet Quahlen with the familiar Shienaran phrase of â€œMay Peace favor your swordâ€ but hadnâ€™t fully gotten his air back yet. The sounds of someone moving echoed from the alley, but it wasnâ€™t until she drew closer that she realized the woman who could channel was back there. Amahra followed as close as she dared to Mallah, the enthusiasm of discovering the channelerâ€™s identity diminishing with the reality of actually meeting her. Nervously she peered into the alleyway from behind Mallah and Quahlen.
What she saw took her by surprise, not because of the carnage but because of who was still standing in the alley. A lone Domani woman stood amidst the bodies, untouched by the blood around her. She was completely distracted by her hands, staring at them with profound amazement, though there was nothing on them, nor was she holding anything in them. A lone Andorman stood against the Tavern wall with a blood-soaked blade in his hand, staring with equal amazement at the Domani. Her Shienaran upbringing steeled her against the sight of so many dead; even as a young girl she had seen bloodier battles than this close to her home. Considering the bodies in the alleyway, both the Andorman and the Shienaran had to have been excellent swordsmen to have overcome so many opponents alone. She distractedly bit her lip as she tried to analyze the battle from her vantage point at the edge of the alley. While it didnâ€™t take sensitivity to the power to tell that the Domani was capable of channeling, there were no wounds on any of the bodies that spoke of use of the one power. Several of the corpses had cuts and wounds that were typical of swords, but some of the injuries that the fallen combatants had sustained were justâ€¦ wrong for a sword. Someone elseâ€¦
Her thoughts and observations were interrupted by the top-knotted Shienaran warrior. â€œMy apologies, Aes Sedai, but I must warn you; there is a darkfriend Aiel back there, somewhere.â€
Mallah never took her eyes off of the Domani, but stepped back toward the wall opposite the Tavern and said only â€œQuahlenâ€ while continuing to study the Domani.
Quahlen never shifted from his protective stance guarding his Aes Sedai, but began scanning the alleyway beyond a little closer. His sharp eyes seemed to take in every last shadow, every last mote of dust, every last drop of blood in the alley, but finally he simply shook his head. If there ever was an Aiel present, he was gone now. Amahra reexamined the wounds on the corpses. Aiel fought with spears, which would explain several of the odd puncture marks. What was an Aiel doing this far from the waste?
A sound of rapid air displacement from above was all the warning she got when suddenly the Shienaran grunted and twisted as he and an Aiel tumbled to the ground, locked in battle against each other. Spear and buckler met sword even as the two recovered from their fall, the Aiel having jumped from the rooftop, the Shienaran having been knocked to the ground from the force of the Aielâ€™s landing on him. Their moves were fluid and swift, each combatant moving with deadly grace and agility. She barely had enough time to embrace the source before Mallah was already channeling a weave of Air.
â€œHALT!â€ Mallahâ€™s voice echoed with an ear-splintering volume. Not only did the two combatants stop in the middle of their battle, but the Andoran, the Domani, and several passerby suddenly froze in their tracks at the sudden command. Even Amahra caught her breath momentarily, not wanting to move, despite the fact that she knew that Mallah had only used a voice-amplifying weave and nothing else. Amahra had been the recipient of that weave before, and didnâ€™t like it much better this time, despite the knowledge that she wasnâ€™t the target. She had to acknowledge its effectiveness, however.
Mallah sternly looked toward the two combatants, who eyed the Aes Sedai with more wariness then they gave each other. She fixed her gaze on each of them and spoke in an ice-cold tone. â€œStand there, and donâ€™t move.â€
Her bearing implied that the slightest disobedience would brook dire consequences. She didnâ€™t seem to even entertain the notion of them disobeying as she turned away from the two warriors to once again focus on the Domani, who had not moved an inch since Amahra first laid eyes on her. Mallah strode forward towards the Domani, looking several feet taller than she really was. Her Warder Quahlen matched strides with her, his hand on his sword and color-shifting cloak flowing behind him.
Amahra noticed that the Domani seemed to shrink uncomfortably under the advance of the Aes Sedai and her Warder, and was not surprised. Few were able to remain unintimidated by such a formidable and powerful duo. Mallah stopped a few feet from the Domani, and let her gaze rove over her from head to foot.
â€œYou, girlâ€¦ What is your name?â€ said Mallah, her commanding presence demanding nothing less than an immediate answer.
â€œCueâ€¦ Cuerainaâ€ stammered the girl. â€œCueraina Alâ€™Emar, Aes Sedai.â€