Kalyan Rihera, Soldier
Kalyan crawled slowly through the grass on hands and knees, listening to the giggles of the toddler perched on his back. Why is it that the Grey Tower considers assisting at the Mar'a'Mael to be part of our chores? As far as the Soldier was concerned, having leave to come here and play with the children was more of a reward than a chore. He kept his head up as he continued to crawl, doing his best to keep a watchful eye on the other children scattered throughout the yard. Most were older than the child he carried, and there were other adult eyes on them, but Kalyan still remembered how fast even the littlest children could move.
As he approached a pair of small girls, the Soldier smiled up at them and gave a playful roar, laughing as the child on his back tried to imitate him. The girls squealed and ran, their laughter trailing behind them. For a while, he played chase with the two of them, only stopping when his back grew tired of the weight riding on it. "Riding time is almost done," he warned the boy he carried, then he crawled across the grass to where an Accepted was standing and supervising. He stopped there, letting the Accepted pick up the toddler, then stood up, stretching his arms over his head.
After a bit of a rest, he headed towards a group of large trees clustered at the back of the yard. Many of the children loved to climb them, and it was fun for Kalyan to watch, as long as he didn't have to scold anyone for climbing higher than they were allowed. He positioned himself a short distance away, observing and occasionally applauding the children's efforts. Most of them stuck to the lower branches as they'd been told, and all seemed well until he spotted one of the girls rapidly moving up hers, perching precariously on the thinner branches.
He opened his mouth, meaning to remind her to come back down, but before he even had time to blink, the child missed a step and lost her grip on the branch she'd been holding. She plummeted towards the ground, screaming in a way that brought all the other adults running in that direction. Kalyan ran too, of course, but none of them were quick enough to reach her before she hit the ground and her screams abruptly ceased.
Shock froze them all where they stood. At first, none of them spoke, but the silence didn't last long before many voices spoke up at once, each with his or her own idea of what should be done. The Accepted he'd been working with earlier took off at a run, shouting that she was going to find a Yellow, and several others began calling the rest of the children to go to the door.
Initially, Kalyan had been as stunned as everyone else, but as that first emotion began to fade, the Soldier moved to check on the injured girl, wincing when he got close enough to recognize her. Mireya. The little girl was one of those who could often be found climbing trees, always trying to get away with going just a little higher. He was only a few steps away from her when someone grabbed him by the arm, and he turned to see one of the orphanage workers holding a squealing toddler on her hip. She looked nervously at the motionless form on the ground, then turned to Kalyan.
"Since you're here, would you mind staying with her until we can get a Yellow?"
He nodded, and the woman let him go and hurried off. Before long, he and Mireya were alone in the yard. He sat down beside her, gasping at the sight of her injuries, which seemed so much worse up close than they had seeing her at a distance. She laid on her back with her head tilted towards him, eyes closed. Her leg was bent under her at an angle in a way Kalyan was fairly sure legs weren't meant to bend. What worried him most was the stream of red that darkened her blonde hair and the absolute stillness from a child who he knew to be constantly in motion.
Kalyan leaned over her and whispered her name. "Mireya?" He didn't expect an answer, but he'd hoped she'd move, or open her eyes, something to show she could hear him. An awful thought struck him. Is she even breathing? His head popped up, and he watched her anxiously until he saw the slight rise and fall of her chest.
She might still be breathing, but she didn't look well at all to Kalyan, who turned his head to look in the direction of the Grey Tower, only to see that nobody was coming. While they weren't far from the Tower here, they weren't right on Tower grounds either, and he had no idea how long it would take for the Accepted to get there and find a Yellow. Bringing his attention back to Mireya, he saw that her head was still bleeding, and feared she wouldn't be able to wait much longer.
He didn't know what to do. He didn't dare try to lift her and carry her to the infirmary himself, and he knew nothing of how to stop the bleeding. He searched his brain, trying to come up with something, anything, that he could do, and found himself thinking of a class he'd had where they'd been shown the weave for Healing. They'd even been allowed to practice the weave, though not on a living being. That was something a Soldier would never be permitted to try, but when Kalyan looked up towards the Tower again to see that help still hadn't arrived, he realized he might have to make the attempt or watch her die in front of him.
He knew he'd be punished if he were caught, but the potential of a switching seemed minor when he compared it to the guilt he'd feel if he did nothing. He didn't give himself any more time to think about it. Unsure if Healing would work on the bent leg, Kalyan stood and walked to it, taking hold of the foot and pulling gently until it laid mostly straight on the ground. While he did this, the child didn't move, which only served to make him more worried about her. Certain that he had to do something, he returned to his former place, sat down, and reached out to lay a hand on the side of Mireya's head that was opposite her wound. Seizing saidin, Kalyan first pulled what he knew he would need, Earth and Fire and Spirit, doing his best to remember what they'd been shown in that class. The braid he created with his threads looked familiar, but something about it didn't feel right to Kalyan.
The Soldier couldn't have described what that something was, nor could he have explained why he did what he did next. He held on to the tentative beginning of his weave, fighting saidin for the tendrils of Air and Water that he added to it. More Earth was next, then Spirit, following instinct he hadn't know he possessed. Some Water....maybe a tiny thread of Earth...Spirit to hold it together... He completely forgot about imitating the weave he'd seen during class, and the complicated weave of all Five Powers bore no resemblance to it when he finished.
For a moment, Kalyan sat there and studied at his creation. He'd never seen a weave so intricate, certainly nothing he'd ever made, but without understanding how, he knew it would work. He released the weave over Mireya's head and let go of saidin, moving his hand from her head to his lap. Then Kalyan watched as his weave sank in. The little girl shivered, and Kalyan rose to his knees, hovering anxiously over her. He held his breath, waiting, and when she'd stopped shaking, Mireya turned her head towards him and opened her eyes. He stared at her in awe, hardly able to believe that his attempt at Healing her had been successful. Then the Soldier let his breath out in a sigh of relief and smiled.
"What happened?" the child asked. "I was just climbing...and then I wasn't."
"You fell from the tree and got hurt," Kalyan said, "but you're all right now. Can you sit up and let me look at your head?" The little girl obeyed, sitting up, and scooting closer to him. She was still moving when Kalyan heard a cough from behind them. He flinched, startled, then turned around to look up at the source of the sound. Standing before him was an Asha'man he didn't know, and Kalyan's stomach sank as he climbed to his feet.
"I think I can handle things from here, Soldier," the Asha'man muttered. "What exactly do you think you were doing?"
Kalyan shifted from foot to foot under the Asha'man's glare, trying to fight his desire to squirm. "Well....she hit her head when she fell....and I know I should have waited for a Yellow....but the bleeding didn't stop and nobody came," he mumbled without looking at the man. "I did try to wait, but....the bleeding.....she wasn't moving......I really thought she was dying." He turned his head to look at the child again, pleased to see her still sitting there as if nothing at all had ever happened. Not daring to look up at the Asha'man, Kalyan studied his own feet and kept talking. "I know I'm not allowed to channel without someone watching.....but I couldn't just sit there and not do anything for her."
"So you know the rules and still chose not to obey them."
Kalyan nodded, hoping the Asha'man wouldn't demand an apology. He knew punishment was coming, but couldn't honestly say he was sorry for what he'd done.
"Look up, Soldier," the Asha'man snapped, and Kalyan did. The man's face was unreadable. "You'll report to the Master of Soldiers right now and tell him everything you just told me, but don't think he'll go easy on you."
Kalyan nodded again, bowed, and had already begun to walk quickly towards his destination when the Asha'man called after him, "Oh, and Soldier?"
Kalyan blinked and stopped walking, nervously turning to face the Asha'man again. The intensity of the dark eyes watching him made the Soldier want to run from whatever else he was going to say.
"For a first attempt at Healing....you did well today," the Asha'man stated. His voice gave no hint of approval, disapproval, or any other feeling attached to the words.
"Huh?" said Kalyan.
"You heard me," said the Asha'man. "Isn't there somewhere you should be going?"
"Yes, Asha'man," Kalyan managed to say, and hurried away from the orphanage at a near run, not quite sure what to think of the man's last comment.