Hollow Life

Hollow Life

By: Marie

It had come as a surprise, his love for Moiraine. He had always found her an attractive woman, but for the first time in ten years he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He found everything about her arousing: her eyes crinkling as she laughed, how she bit her lip in concentration, the way her skin glowed in the moonlight.

While riding to Maradon she seemed to become aware of his increased attention. How could she not? As they rode he would stare so hard at her back she would turn to give him a quizzical look. Lan decided the best way to prevent that from happening too often was to scout ahead as much as possible. But that tactic only worked during the daytime. At night, it was harder to avoid temptation. While she slept, he watched in wonder as the campfire danced over her slim frame. He would study her face, every line, every feature. She looked ethereal; like a sleeping marble statue. On one such evening her eyes fluttered opened to stare back at him. In silence they sat. The fire played in her dark eyes, mesmerizing him. It felt like forever, but it was only a moment; Moiraine turned on her side and promptly fell back to sleep.

The rest of the journey was quiet. Moiraine never spoke of that night, and Lan wasn’t about to broach the subject. When they arrived in Maradon, a local festival was being held and the city seemed filled to capacity. Thankfully, their usual inn had two free rooms. After exchanging pleasantries, the innkeeper lead them to a small table in a corner.

“Lan,” the pitch of Moiraine’s voice caused an embarrassing reaction. “I do not like the looks of that fellow,” she made a small gesture. “He’s been glancing our way all evening.”

“Well, you are a beautiful woman.”

The sharp glare she gave him was nullified by the sudden blushing of her cheeks. “Either way, I would prefer to find alternate lodgings.”

“Moiraine, we were lucky to find these rooms.”

“We’ll sleep in a hayloft, I don’t care. As long as we’re not here.”

As it turned out the only opening was a dingy room in a small inn. Lan’s offer to sleep on the floor was refused, one reason being there wasn’t any room; the bed took up the majority of the space. It wasn’t until well past midnight that this caused a problem.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Moiraine had managed to transform him into a giant pillow. He could feel her soft breath on his neck and her female warmth on his thigh. He felt like a prisoner.

“Lan? Why are you awake? Is something wrong?” When he didn’t respond, she leaned over him, their noses almost touching.

It was all too much. Pulling her down on top of him, he planted a small kiss on her lips. But that one kiss set fire through his veins, and soon he was kissing her neck, her breasts, her stomach. When his hands touched her bare flesh he though his lust would burn him alive. Moiraine must have felt the same, for she suddenly was tearing at his small clothes like a rabid animal. Once her job was completed she straddled his hips and set a slower pace. It was euphoric; thanks to the bond he felt her passion in addition to his own. By dawn they had lost the blankets, their sweat acting as their only covering.

~

That night seemed forever ago. Not long after, they discovered that their night of passion had lead to procreation. From that point on life became a panic-filled haze. Their lives, being filled with danger and uncertainty, weren’t exactly child friendly. As the pregnancy progressed it became increasingly difficult for Moiraine to just hold the One Power, let alone wield it. She finally agreed to put a temporary halt to their search until the birth of the child.

They settled into Adeleas and Vandene Sedai’s home in Tifan’s Well. The two sisters doted on Moiraine, and got the rest of the village in on the act. Soon the house was filled with toys, bottles, and baby clothes. Some of the women had taken it upon themselves to teach Moiraine (and Lan when they could corner him) to make baby food. That last month was the happiest of Lan’s life.

Moiraine went into labor on one of the hottest days that summer. Adeleas and Vandene banned him from the birthing room, why he didn’t know; he could sense all the horrors of childbirth through the bond. All eleven hours of it. Finally, the women let him in to see Moiraine…and their son. Lan had never felt anything like it, the instant unconditional love for this tiny human.

It took all his strength to hold back tears, as he planted a kiss on Moiraine’s forehead and took the babe in his arms. His son looked up at him with the blue eyes of a newborn.

“What was that?”

Lan looked at Moiraine in puzzlement, and then he heard it. Screams. Screams of terror and pain. Returning the child to his mother, Lan unsheathed his sword and dashed outside.

The smell of death greeted him. Draghkar and Darkhounds were in such large numbers he felt as if the Last Battle had truly began. But something was wrong; the Shadowspawn weren’t hunting people down, just killing those poor souls who fell into their range of attack. But even stranger than that, he couldn’t sense any of them. It was like they were…shielded. A shot of fear gripped his heart. Moiraine. He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew that’s who they were after.

He ran at full speed back towards the house, cutting down anything that stood in his path. If they fought back he didn’t feel it. Crashing through the bedroom door, a scene unfolded before his eyes that chilled him to the bone. Moiraine was in the grips of a Draghkar, alive but not living. Their child, not even an hour old, was lying in a small pool of blood.The Draghkar let Moiraine go, leaving her to stare at nothing with soulless eyes. Lan thought that it a blessing she couldn’t see her son’s lifeless body. Rage engulfed him. He didn’t hear the Darghkar’s song, or the screams from the village; he heard nothing at all. Even after dealing the death blow he didn’t stop his stabbing. It took a weave of Air to contain him.

~

The following morning was filled with the sounds of crying and the songs of crows. Vandene fed Moiraine a sweet tea that put her into a sleep she would never awaken from. Lan watched in silence as they placed her and their son in a shallow grave just outside the village. He had his mother’s nose. Lan stood and stared at the grave until nightfall, and would have continued if Vandene hadn’t come for him.

“Lan…. You can’t stand here for eternity. They are in the Creator’s hands now. She will keep them safe until they are reborn.”

The Aes Sedai’s words affected him not. “I shall join them soon enough.”

“Do not be foolish,” she sniffed at him. “That attack last night was arranged by an Aes Sedai. Light, by the aftermath I would say the entire Black Ajah. Your suicide will not avenge Moiraine nor your son. Siuan Sanche was raised to Amyrlin Seat this past month. They were friends, yes? Go to her, Lan. Tell her what transpired here. Stand by her side as she roots out this stain of Tar Valon. When your family’s killers are hanging in Traitor’s Court then you can go to the Blight and fight your lone war.”

Without a word, Lan mounted his horse and set course for the Tower.