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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

In a world beyond controlling ...


Elgee
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In a world beyond controlling

Are you going to deny the saviour

In front of your eyes

 

Zarinen stared past the Sitters seated in a semi-circle in front of her. What they had come to discuss with her was nothing new. The facts were known to all. The Dragon was reborn. The Forsaken were loose. Other Channelers fought on the side of the Dark. The Borderlands were being overrun. Their Brothers were still going mad, their bodies rotting. Their Brothers.

 

What she had witnessed through the Ter’Angreal shortly after her return to the Tower was still fresh in her mind’s eye, but she seemed less shaken by its revelations than some of her sisters. Understandable, really, considering her … views and history. Her willingness to ignore the rules and do what was necessary had played a large part in her being chosen as Highest, she was sure. Surely the Sitters knew as well as she that there was only one way forward, only one way they could win the Last Battle and its forerunners. Only one way they could prevent another Breaking. None of them wanted to be the first to mention it.

 

Her eyes focussed on them one at a time, the fierceness of her gaze at odds with the sweet smile on her lips. Still holding their gazes, she stood, arranged her shawl carefully along her arms, then walked out the room without saying a word. If they did not want to say it, she wasn’t about to indulge them. They were going to have to find their courage soon enough, when it came to action.

 

* * * * *

 

Zarinen rose from her deep curtsy to the Amyrlin. “Forgive me for not making an appointment, Mother.” She hesitated before continuing. “I wish to discuss an Ajah matter with you.” The flicker of surprise in Shevara's eyes was expected; strictly speaking, the Amyrlin was no longer a Red Sister, and should therefore not be privy to Ajah matters. If the mother had been from any other Ajah, Zarinen would have had severe reservations about approaching her at all, but she was, and newly raised at that. Coupled with the extreme delicacy of the matter, Zarinen had felt it incumbent upon herself to, at the very least, inform her of the radical change in the Red Ajah's mission. Besides, the rumours Zarinen had heard made her suspect she was not the only one in this room with a rather more ... intimate knowledge than the average Red of men who could channel. Of course, if those rumours were true, Shevara had bonded the men after they were gentled, but still ...

 

Still, she hesitated before finally expounding further. “Mother, most people are speculating about the purpose of the Red Ajah, given the current … situation with the Black Tower. We alone know how far from our original mission we have moved.” She gave Shevara a piercing stare. “I propose that we … move closer to that original intent.” She took a deep breath, then almost rushed the next words out. “I propose an alliance with the Black Tower.”

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shevara nodded as Zarinen rose from her curtsey.  This was a surprise indeed.  She was unable to stop a slight widening of her eyes when the Highest said that she wished to discuss an Ajah matter.  That was simply not done.  The Amyrlin was of all Ajahs and none.  Must be of all Ajahs and none.  For her to be known to show partiality to a sister from her former Ajah...well, it did not bear thinking about.  She was still so new the the Amyrlin Seat that a part of her wanted to be the one curseying to Zarinen!  And the Hall would surely use any scrap they could.  She made a mental note to find reason to be alone with a sister of the Yellow and a Gray later today.  Perhaps that would allay some suspicion.  Perhaps.

 

“Mother, most people are speculating about the purpose of the Red Ajah, given the current … situation with the Black Tower. We alone know how far from our original mission we have moved.” The direct stare Zarinen shot her was challenging at best.

 

Well, of course.  Bonwhin's diary found along with a ter'angreal from the breaking.  The Red's ancient mission neatly laid out for all of the Ajah to see.  That it had been a man who had given them that mission.  The Watchers who had been sent, and the disaster that followed.  Her predecessor, Annais, and her formal recognition of the Black Tower.  Oh yes, there was more than enough speculation to go on about.

 

"I propose an alliance with the Black Tower."

 

And alliance between the Red and the Black Tower, she must mean.  That certainly explained a few things.  While the Black Tower had been recognized by Tar Valon, there was more than a little debate about how far that recognition actually went.  Shevara was at least half sure that a major reason she now sat in the Amyrlin Seat was that there were more than a few rumors about how she had handled channeling men.  And at least some of them were true.  And they were sufficiently contradictory that she could expect some measure of support from nearly every Ajah.  Some measure of doubt as well.  For Zarinen to be here meant that she still had the trust of the Red.  She was glad of it.  Some of her more liberal views had gotten her into trouble with previous Highests.  But then, there were rumors about Zarinen as well.

 

Her lips firmed, all that was going well and truly away from the point.  Any alliance with the Black Tower would require approval from the Amyrlin Seat, if not the full Hall.  Perhaps Zarinen thought that a Red Amyrlin would be easier to win over than the full hall.  Likely she was right.  While most of the Hall agreed that something must be done with the Black Tower, there was no semblance of consensus as to what that something should be.  And the truth of it was that Shevara did want to tie a string to the Black Tower.  She nodded slightly.

 

"And what exactly is the nature of this alliance that you propose, daughter?"

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Amyrlin Seat

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Zarinen regarded the Keeper of the Flame, the Watcher of the Seals, the Amyrlin Seat, with one raised eyebrow, and swallowed her first inclination to tell her not to be a dunce. One thing Shevara most certainly was not, was slow witted. Her eagle’s eyes raked the woman seated opposite her, but she could spot no dissimulation. Her eyes narrowed. She had presumed the solution was blindingly obvious to everyone, that they were merely too afraid to be the first to voice the unthinkable, but might she have taken a leap in logic that others had not?

 

She frowned in thought, oblivious to the fact that she was making the Amyrlin Seat wait for an answer. Were the Sitters also equally in the dark? Had she wronged them? She would have to apologise … no … if the thought had not occurred to them, they very well might be opposed to the idea. Her rule over them was too new to allow any show of weakness from her side. She would have to act completely sure of their acceptance, for the sake of the Ajah. For the sake of the world. But first, she would have to convince the Amyrlin. This had to have her blessing, or at least acceptance. Matters would go ahead without it, but better not to have the Amyrlin at odds with the Ajah she had been raised from. They would need her support, once others got wind of what had happened.

 

It was difficult to break down the reasoning behind her belief, but stating the obvious was the only way. “The purpose of the Red Ajah is to prevent another Breaking. Up to now, the only way to do this, the only way to keep our Brothers from their horrendous doom, has been to capture and gentle them. Even if the recent acknowledgment of the Black Tower by the White Tower had not happened, there is no hiding from the fact that the Last Battle is approaching.  We can no longer continue on that path. So, we have to find a new way, a new method, Mother.”

 

It was logical, she had done it before, but the pain that her experiment had caused her … would her Sisters curse her name one day? It had to be done, regardless. The Red Ajah knew about pain. Knew about sacrifice. “By tradition,” she emphasised that word with a wry smile, “Reds have not bonded Warders. The only men we have been interested in, are men who can channel. Since we can no longer help or control these men by gentling them, there is only one logical option – we must Bond them.”

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

 

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  • 1 month later...

Shevara nodded slowly.  Well.  That certainly cleared up a few things.  There had been rumors about Zarinen for years, and apparently, they were true.  She had bonded a man who could channel.  Shevara had known that Zarinen had served a very harsh penance some years back, but since she had been out of the Tower at the time, she had never been a party to the exact details.  By the time she had returned there were at least a dozen different reasons given.  Right now she wanted to press the woman hard on exactly what had happened.  But she was Amyrlin now, and her position aside, she was not so lost to Tower custom as to interfere in another sister's business.  And penance, once served, was meant to erase the crime.

 

It also explained why Zarinen had approached her.  Shevara knew that there were similar rumors about her own relationships with gentled men.  Rumors that were most definitely not, in this instance, based on any fact at all.  She had crossed many more lines with her men that most Reds would consider proper, but she had never gone so far as to bond one.  To share her consciousness with a man who was slowly dying of despair?  She didn't think she had the strength.  She didn't even know the weave.  Had she known back then, would she ever even have considered it?  Perhaps.  If it would have helped them to live longer...Perhaps.

 

But such thoughts belonged in the past.  What Zarinen was suggesting now...Certainly it would tie the Black Tower closer to the White.  But in a positive way?  Still, the idea was a novel one.  The Red Ajah must work to prevent another Breaking.  And it was clear that gentling these men would not be permitted under normal circumstances.  The Last Battle would be soon.  It could be only months, or weeks, away.  Could they risk gentling men would could be an asset in that fight?  Whose only training was as a living weapon?  Reds bonding Asha'man would certainly give some measure of control, some way of monitoring.  But really, Reds bonding?  Oh yes, Zarinen would certainly want the approval, if not outright cooperation, of a Red Amyrlin for such an undertaking.

 

"Tell me more of what exactly you propose, daughter.  You cannot be suggesting simply showing up at the doorstep of the Black Tower offering to bond their men as Warders?  You do know how an unexpected arrival turned out last time," her lips firmed as she thought about how exactly that meeting had gone.  Three sisters dead, one stilled, and the rest captured and bonded.  "How do you expect to get these men to submit to such control?  You are right that the Last Battle approaches, Zarinen.  You are right that we have little time.  But is this really the way?"

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Amyrlin Seat

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Zarinen permitted herself a small sigh of relief. It seemed that the Mother was not as wholly horrified by her proposal as she had feared she might be. Not totally convinced either, but at least there seemed to be a willingness to listen to reason. It would require Zarinen to tell more than she wanted, but eventually she would have had to do that anyway.

 

“No, we most certainly do not want a repeat of last time, Mother.” Zarinen’s smile faltered slightly at the thought of Sisters stilled. That seemed almost worse than them dying. “I thought a carefully worded letter, asking for a meeting on neutral ground, would be better than just … pitching up out of the blue. One of the Tower Guards can carry it, with your permission? It will take some time for him to get there, and carry back a reply; time in which the Ajah can get used to the idea.”

 

There would be pandemonium in the Ajah, they both knew. The Highest could command and the Ajah obey, but that did not mean there would not be a lot of foot-dragging and nit picking. “No need to put too much in the letter – just a request for a meeting between the Sitters of the Red Ajah and a few representatives of the Black Tower, to discuss areas of mutual concern. Once we are face to face, we can lay the proposal to them.” She had not really thought too much about the letter, as yet. “I don’t think we even have to tell them it will be the Sitters meeting them; Representatives of the Red Ajah will sound suitably important, but not important enough to lead to … thoughts of hostages, or the like?”

 

“As to how to convince them to … participate in the matter … I’m sure they have concerns about the Red Ajah, despite the Proclamation. We would seem less of a threat, if they are our Bondmates, surely. If that fact does not occur to them, it can be subtly pointed out. Larindhra is very good at subtly pointing out things. She is also very good with that motherly smile of hers,” she added with a sly grin. Many people were fooled by Larindhra’s smile, but Zarinen had come to see it for the tool she used it as. “Dressing appropriately will also help. I am sure you know as well as I do that men are men, Mother, whether they can channel or not. And young men are susceptible to … feminine allures.” Zarinen’s smile was anything but sweet, now.

 

“The Ajah itself … well, that will take more persuading, I think. And a lot more courage. The main plus points are that it is possible to control such a man.”  It was difficult for her to talk about her experience, but she forced herself. “Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the madness, but it is possible to … feel its onset. The difficulty comes in with judging when the point is reached where …” She trailed off, unable to say the words. Killing him is the only option. “Where he can no longer be safely allowed to … have access to Saidin.” She looked Shevara straight in the eye, all the heartache and horror she had experienced due to that scenario, clearly visible. “This way, we can make sure as many of them as possible survive until the Last Battle, but at the same time keep the world safe from them, Mother.”

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Shevara nodded again; the woman certainly had given the matter a great deal of thought.  And, she reflected, the plan seemed a sound one.  A non-channelling messenger with a letter.  Much more suitable than a group of Aes Sedai, no matter how benign their intentions.  And with the treaty signed by her predecessor, the reaction should be much different than last time.  That still grated, but by law and custom she was bound as though her hand had held the pen.  The Black Tower equal to the White.  Well, they would see.

 

"Very well, daughter.  I give you leave to open a correspondence with the Black Tower.  Let us see how much the treaty Annais made is worth.  Speak to your Reds.  It would not do to have open rebellion to the idea.  The Ajah must speak with one voice.  There will already be too many questions from the other Ajahs when this is discovered. 

 

Raslyn, I think, will be agreeable to the idea as well.  Keep her fully informed.  As one of no Ajah, but raised from the Red, she can be seen to speak with you more freely than I am able.  I dislike using an intermediary, but if I have too many meetings with the Red Sitters it will cause unpleasant talk.  I will not be see to be too partial."

 

She paused and folded her hands carefully, speaking with all the Aes Sedai calm she could summon, "Before you go, Zarinen, I would ask a favor of you.  Please teach me the weave used to bond a Warder."

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Amyrlin Seat

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  • 2 weeks later...

Zarinen was sufficiently surprised by the admittance inherent in the Amyrlin’s request, that her eyebrows rose of their own accord. If she did not know how to form the weave, those rumours about Shevara having bonded gentled men were obviously not true. She had taken an even bigger risk in approaching the woman with this than she had known!

 

Her shock at the realization was great enough that for a few seconds the even greater import failed to register. When it did, she lost her habitual smile. Eyes popping and mouthing forming a silent O, Zarinen could only stare at the Amyrlin for endless moments. “Mother … there is only one reason you would want to know this weave …” she breathed eventually, then had to clear her throat before she could continue. “Mother, are you sure this is wise …”

 

At the end, Zarinen balked at telling the Amyrlin she could not do something. Maybe not even Shevara’s closest friend, if she had one, would dare go that far, and the two of them were hardly even acquainted. Thoughts tumbled through her head, too many for any one to form completely. The Amyrlin being of all Ajahs … technically she is no longer a Red, so the outcry might not be too large if she bonded a man … but a man who can CHANNEL?? All right for me; no one is sure of my position … but … the Amyrlin must be protected! She could only look mutely at Shevara.

 

“One can never say for sure what one might need in the future, daughter.” Shevara’s smile was mysterious enough to cause envy in any Aes Sedai, but Zarinen wasn’t soothed in the least. I will have to let Larindhra in on this – she’s the only one devious and experienced enough to put the right spin on this … but how far can I trust even Larindhra? Most of the time I’m not at all sure what that old harridan is scheming…”

 

A good thing the Bonding weave needed no gestures – her hands were trembling so, Zarinen doubted she would have been able to form it. As it was, she had to take a few calming breaths before she could embrace the Source and show the Amyrlin the weave.

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

 

continued in Are you going to deny the saviour

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