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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Jagen Sedai

Changing Tides

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It is... unprecedented.” Astradore pulled the needle up, tightening the thread, then paused. “But then, change is to be expected. No longer can the White Tower play by the old rules—not that I need to tell you that, of course.” She looped the needle back in along the hoop, and pulled it up again. It helped her both focus and relax, a sort of meditation she could do anywhere.

Will you be coming with me then?” the Sitter asked her.

Astradore's needle paused again, briefly. Taking in a deep breath, she let it out slowly. “You ask it as a question, but you are a Sitter, and if you are in charge of the mission, I think I hardly have a choice in the matter.”

The Tairen set down her embroidery hoop, regarding the other woman. Jagen had her teacup and saucer in her lap, and she was watching Astradore intently. No, she really could not answer it any other way. “It does make logical sense for you to gather more sisters, and not just Reds. This truly needs to be a whole Tower affair. I'm not sure if I am glad you asked me.” She shook her head. “Bonding a man who could channel... I would never have imagined it.”

Jagen smiled wryly. “I did not exactly dream of it, either. But here we are.”

Here we are,” she agreed. “Who else has agreed to go with you?”

Elin Hawes. Others have bonded already, but no one has exactly made a field trip out of it.”

 

Astradore nodded. They had talked before about bonding men who could channel. Before it actually happened, before those men suddenly showed up at the White Tower, Jagen had approached her about this topic in secret. They discussed it as friends, and as business associates. Astradore was honored the Sitter valued her opinions still, despite being near a century and a half younger. She had only worn the shawl for a few decades, but perhaps Jagen desired a younger perspective. Perhaps. The Sitter had been her teacher as a novice and Accepted, and seemed to see Astradore's potential and talents—that's what Astradore liked to think—or perhaps it was solely her strength in the Power. She never wanted to ask what it was that had Jagen recruiting her as a friend only weeks after gaining the shawl.

 

I am excited for the... research opportunities such a trip will provide. And by all accounts, most of the men sound reasonable; if they were all like Caladesh, the Black Tower would not have grown at all.”

Jagen's lips tightened. Astradore realized perhaps she should not have brought up that name, but there it was. The Red had not been in the Tower when the rogue, Darkfriend Asha'man had attacked the Tower, resulting in the death of Lyanna and the disappearance, if not the death of, Lanfir, the Amyrlin before Annais. That was a little more than a year ago, now, but was still a topic sisters did not like to bring up. But it had to be brought up, in Astradore's opinion.

I have visited already,” Jagen told her, “but only briefly. It is better I have other sisters with me. Some strong ones.”

This surprised the White, her eyebrows rising, but she gave little other reaction. “You went alone?”

Under the knowledge of other Reds, of course.” The Red finished her tea and set the teacup down on the small table, clasping her veil back into place. She had never given up her Taraboner fashion. Astradore herself liked to try dresses of different lands, as long as they were silk, and nice. She was not as conservative as her sisters when it came to appearance. She often wore jewelry with sapphires or other blue stones; blue was her favorite color.

Let me know when, Jagen. I will be ready.” She stood as Jagen departed, and only allowed herself to relax when she was gone. Astradore wasn't truly comfortable with such a trip, but she could not deny the logic of going. The Black Tower needed to have the White Tower guiding it, or in the least, they needed to keep an eye on those men. So she was going to have a Warder. A channeling Warder.

 

She couldn't help a shiver. She couldn't get the doubts of saidin being cleansed out of her head. Did it stop the madness the men experienced? Or were they still as mad as they were before? Perhaps the cleansing was the reason why that huge beacon of saidar had been felt; what else could it have been?

She needed a walk. She grabbed her silvery, white-fringed shawl more for an extra layer of warmth more than anything else. Yes, that was it. Astradore opened the door to her apartments and left, not with any particular destination in mind, but walking helped her think. She needed, really, to mentally prepare for the task ahead. She went down a wide, curving set of stairs. Perhaps being outside would help.

 

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Camigwen regarded the Blue Sister standing before her with a pursed lip. Regalia Frantelle was Blue to the bone and was every picture an Aes Sedai today. Her stance was quiet and her face emotionless, matching Camigwen's own stone face.

 

"So what now, Sitter?" Regalia asked churlishly as she straightened the front of her dress. "Will the Yellow Ajah join us in our mission?" Regalia kept her face smooth, only her wringing hands betrayed her nervousness. It was not an easy mission.

 

"I cannot speak for the whole of my Ajah, but personally I think this mission is insane and slightly suicidal. Light knows we have been Gentling male channelers for Ages past and now you speak of...." Camigwen could hardly contain her disgust at the thought. It was not a pleasant idea.

 

"Yes, but do you not see the need for it?" Regalia tightened her resolve. What had to be done, had to be done. Light only know what consequences awaited them. "With this amnesty, such a move would cement relations between us and give us a chance to progress against the Dark One. Without it, we could not hope..."

 

"It is one thing to request an alliance, which I have my hesitations about, and another to request that we let these... men, into our heads. Do you not know the significance of what you ask for? I would not make myself a martyr for such a cause unless absolutely necessary." Camigwen wanted to embrace Saidar there and then to delight in its ecstasy, if only to avoid thinking of the proposed nightmare.

 

"But you know.,," Regalia started.

 

But what she wanted to say was interrupted by the arrival of another sister. Camigwen recognised her as Astradore of a White. Regalia wrinkled her nose in irritation at the interruption.

 

"Good day, sister. How goes you?" Camigwen greeted familiarly.

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Astradore was sweeping along the halls in thought when she came across Regalia and Camigwen. She inclined her head to Camigwen. "Sitter." And as she made to move around them, not wanting to interrupt whatever they were discussing, the Sitter spoke. "Good day, sister. How goes you?"

 

Astradore hesitated a moment. Such a question was simple and yet every time the Tairen was asked, she struggled to answer it, because truth came out more than politeness. Or decorum. "Under the circumstances, Sitter? Well, still alive, at least." She shrugged, and realized perhaps she should have been more formal, but it was too late to apologize now, she figured. Instead, she speculated on her own words. "Hopefully we'll be alive awhile longer." She smiled against all common sense, but considering what was going on--speaking of bonding men who could channel, the Last Battle looming over them--she couldn't help a little macabre humor.

 

"I hope you are well, Sitter? And you, Regalia."

Astradore kept a hint of a smile on her face, simply out of politeness.

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Regalia frowned at the White sister who had interrupted her meeting with Camigwen. Her face was smooth, but Regalia could sense tension in the sister. And that wasn't surprising. Most people in the White Tower were tense these days, considering how things were going on in the world. But still, for a White sister, it was unusual. They were uncaring about events of the world to a fault, constantly spending their time considering logical problems that gave Regalia a headache. Understanding this, seeing Astradore in such a fix, shocked Regalia,

 

"Perhaps you could give us some views." Before Regalia could say anything, she heard Camigwen's description of the process of Male Bonding and the idea of Aes Sedai holding Bonds of Ashaman. Her description was quick and almost curt. A sign of her disgust and lack of interest to personally take on a Bond. "And tell me, as a White, perhaps you could break this down logically. Would such a move be ideal?"

 

Before Regalia could protest, the Yellow Sitter silenced her with a look. Camigwen clearly had no intention of allowing her side of the story. Sighing, she pouted her lips sulkily and waited for the White Sister's thoughts. In her Blue mind, the gears were already shifting, trying to figure out how to turn the arguement around had Astradore's logic work against her. Could she afford to even fight this battle? She did not know.

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Astradore pondered the two sisters for a moment. Or rather, the Yellow Sitter and Blue sister. Yes, all of the Ajahs must be talking about this. Men who could channel now visited the Red Quarters, and she heard others had gone to the Black Tower to bond men, as well. Of course. Jagen had roped her in for a visit, but Astradore didn't like the thought of bonding at all, channeler or no.

 

However, logic did overrule her own feelings on the matter at large. "Thank you for considering me, Sitter," the White began, to be polite. She did like it when Sitters asked her opinion, younger though she was. "Novices and Accepted are taught that the greatest feats of Power were accomplished when men and women were working together," she said simply. "By all accounts, saidin has been cleansed of the Taint, and thus it is restored to what it once was. At least, as far as anyone alive today can tell." Short of asking one of the male Forsaken, she thought to herself.

 

She looked around as she spoke, as she often did when thinking of larger problems. "However, this is a very different time than the Age of Legends. There was no war and no fear of any channeler. Not until the Dreadlords came. Now people in this Age have grown up knowing we must fear men who can channel. Such a feeling is not going to go away any time soon. They will be mistrusted for a time just as we are mistrusted--however illogical the latter situation may be." She paused and gave a nod to herself. "No one knows the One Power better than Aes Sedai, even if saidin is so alien and different; the Source is still one and the same. The Asha'man need guidance, training, and a firm hand so they do not run off and cause... trouble." She frowned slightly, thoughts going to Caladesh, who caused murder in the White Tower. "They need to be watched, and reigned in, but like any man, we cannot reign him in too much, either. In the least, there must be an alliance, and agreement between the two organizations to work together. If we let the Black Tower rise on its own, it could, whether we like to consider it or not, also become a... rival, of a sorts. Best not to let such a situation begin to rise at all."

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Camigwen sighed inwardly. She expected as much from the White sister. In fact, she had a feeling she was very alone in this objection. Her ownhands were tied. As an Aes Sedai, she wanted nothing to do with the Black Tower or at least nothing to do with the men channeling, but at a Yellow, this mission presented an excellent opportunity to study the effects of Saidin and perhaps how the Bond would world. For all she knew, the Taint could be held back by.... something. There had to be some kind of measure against that right? Light.

 

"Very well. I see your point. And yours, Regalia." Camigwen interrupted as Regalia opened her mouth to speak. She would have some sort of decorum out of the Blue. Even if it meant spanking the girl.  "I will speak of this with my Ajah and we will see what our contribution maybe. I do not supprot this wholeheartedly, but I do see reason."

 

Regalia shrugged and backed down. That was a start at least. Perhaps she could work her magic in other ways. She looked at Astradore, the White, in marvel. Logic was such a powerful weapon but it made little to no sense to Regalia. She had no time for such thoughts. But everything counted. She just wished she was as sure about this as she looked. "Astradore," She looked at the White. "What are your plans then?"

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Astradore looked thoughtfully at Camigwen as she asked her question. It was not something she wanted to give an answer to, but she did need to think about it. She could not very well tell the other sister she wanted to hide away in the White Tower until the Last Battle came. It was hardly a plan, anyway.

"My plan is to talk with the Reds," she began. "They are the first who have bonded male channelers, and the  concerns over the taint should be discussed--we do not know, for example, if there are any lingering effects. And what about being Bonded to a man who already has some level of madness in his head? Will that transfer to the sister? Will it somehow change the warder bond? Is being bonded to another channeler different than a non-channeler?"

She adjusted her shawl. "Even though I support bonding, it does not mean all avenues of approach should be discarded. Instead, we must weigh the risks and study what we can. Then make our final decision." She paused briefly, drawing in a breath. "To that end, Jagen has already suggested we form a party to visit the Black Tower." After a brief pause, she asked, "What first comes to your mind, sister?"

Edited by Jagen Sedai

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