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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

New Alliances -- (2009 Empy Award Winner, Best RP Thread)


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It was a decidedly odd feeling to be allowing Asha'man into the White Tower, Shevara decided.  Right now, those men were on their way through Bonwhin's garden and would be led up the few floors to her study.  The Red Quarters were almost as far away.  And while Ramona Sedai would be gliding quickly, the Jerinia would run with her message.  It would be close. She paced the length of her antechamber while she waited, the colored tiles clicking beneath her heels.  

 

Shevara turned as she heard one of the heavy oak doors bang open and a girl in a banded dress rush in with a bag in her hand.

 

"Mother!  The Asha'man brought this!" Jerinia burst out.  

 

"Light and Honor, child!  Calm yourself!" The Amyrlin gave her a cold look as she held out her hand for the bag, which had a rather unpleasant odor.  Her face paled as she looked into the bag, and took a moment to resume her serene mask of Aes Sedai calm.  Why would they have brought a severed head?  What sort of men was she planning to deal with?  "Tell me quickly girl, did you run both ways?  How far behind you are they?"

 

She didn't get to hear the full answer before the door opened again and five Aes Sedai glided in, four in their Red shawls, and one in the stole of the Keeper.  Zarinen was carrying the small ter'angreal they called Bonwhin's Pride.  Shevara couldn't stop a relieved smile.  They were in time.  Whatever else happened now, they were in time.  

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Watcher of the Seals

The Flame of Tar Valon

The Amyrlin Seat

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The hallways were blessedly silent, thank the Light. The last thing they needed now were panicked Blues or flustered Whites lashing out at the Asha'man. Light knew, she had enough trouble keeping her own emotions in check, as it were. She glanced back at the others, pleased to note that all faces showed only calmness, even Jagen, young as she was to be a Sitter. Light, they were all too young, herself included, except for Larindhra. Jasmyne had an odd glint in her eye, but then she was an odd little woman anyway.

 

As they reached the corridor leading to the Amyrlin's office, she saw a girl in a banded dress enter the office at almost a dead run, but no one else in sight. Good - that likely means the Asha'man aren't here yet. Hopefully.  She paused before the door, straightening her dress and hair, unwrapped the Ter'Angreal and carefully draped her shawl over her arms. Drat ... I would choose today to wear the most revealing outfit I possess! She resisted the urge to tug the neckline of her dress higher and wrap the shawl around her shoulders. Straitening her back, she motioned for the others to follow and entered the antechamber.

 

"Mother, we came as fast as we could." Her curtsy was hurried, but of the proper degree. She eyed the Accepted sideways, not wanting to reveal too much in front of the girl. "I trust the men are on their way?"

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Raslyn followed Zarinen to the Amyrlin's office, doing her best to keep her face serene and her demeanour calm. This wasn't a time to show panic or fear, though, truth be told she was a little frightened. Who could know whether Zarinen's plan would work, she doubted that even Zarinen herself had total confidence in her plan. When Raslyn had heard and agreed to Zarinen's proposal, she had little idea that it could be in play so soon, however, she was the Keeper and a Red to the bone and where the Amyrlin and her Ajah Head were of one mind, who was she to demur. Her mouth twisted in a wry smile as she thought of those Sisters who wouldn't have the same reaction.

 

Soon they were walking into the Office and greeting Mother. Raslyn was relieved to see that the Ashaman hadn't arrived yet. She was surprised to find herself patting her bun and smoothing her skirts. Once she realised what she was doing she hastily stilled her hands and folded them in front of her lest she fidget again. She would not, could not, appear flustered!

 

Taking a deep breath she moved to stand next to the Amyrlin's desk facing the door. Whatever happened next, she would be ready.

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Saya Rishada walked slowly, her peg slamming onto the ground each step, thump, thump, thump. It sounded much like a death sentence of a gavel striking down and rendering judgement. She wondered if this was in fact the truth. Would they all have the blade slice down on their neck by this channeling men. Saya had never thought she would see the day when she would lead a party of Asha'man and Red Sisters, her peg thumping on the ground in the uncomfortable silence. All of the women were still linked and she was holding the link. Despite being told to release it she wasn't listening. The woman wasn't a Sitter and maybe she trusted these men, but Saya did not. Oh no, all it took was one misstep and she was zapping one of them with something. She might die in the attempt but she wasn't going down without fighting. She turned the corner and walked up the stairs to the Amyrlin's office. It was actually quite comical that they followed her at the slow pace she set. Mind you she wasn't crippled by any means but she also didn't sprint where she was going. Luckily she had learned a weave that she wove around the stump of her leg each day. Since she had learned the weave she hadn't endured any pain from the peg rubbing or being to active with it.

 

Saya walked forward and knocked loudly on the door, signaling that they were here to all of those who hopefully were inside. It wouldn't do for them to show up at the door and for their Highest not to be there. She heard a voice from inside and she carefully opened the door. Immediately she saw Mother and the Keeper standing facing the door as well as their Highest and Sitters that weren't with her. She nodded at them and walked inside, she curtsied before Mother and the Keeper which wasn't easy considering she had a peg leg. Saya was sure she looked like some strange bird but she didn't care. It was all about showing the proper respect to one of the most powerful women in the lands. Turning she bowed her head respectfully to their Highest before she spoke. "Mother, Keeper, Sitters. I bring before you these Asha'man who have come to speak with you. I  fear I do not know their names so I will step back and let you begin." She took a step back and waited to see what would happen next...

 

Saya

RED NSW

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jerinia blinked in surprise as the Amyrlin mentioned the contents of the sack. Come to think of it, it did kind of smell bad, but she didn't really pay much attention to it as she ran. Still, maybe there had been a reason everyone just seemed to ignore the sack instead of a servant being summoned to take care of it. Come to think of it, she did kind of snatch it up without asking too...

 

"Tell me quickly girl, did you run both ways?  How far behind you are they?"

 

- "I walked to them as you told me to Mother, but then i... guess i kind of panicked and ran back with the sack. I know you told me not to run, i should have just--"

 

The sound of the door opening brought a welcome interruption as she fumbled for the right words to say, but she could only wince as she noticed the procession of Red Ajah members entering the room. She gave a hopeful curtsy to them as well, hoping it would at least lessen the penance she believed she was going to get for breaking... well, a whole series of Tower regulations. And after bursting into the Amyrlin's study not once, but twice, 'running through the Halls' would be the least of her worries. Whatever it was, she was going to be in trouble now...

 

 

Jerinia

Detects impending doom

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  • 2 weeks later...

Arath and the rest of the Asha'man fell in behind the red sisters as they left the garden.  He hoped they were taking them to the Amyrlin's chambers and not a dungeon cell.  The first set of stairs leading upwards was a good sign.  Not even Aes Sedai would keep prisoners on an upper floor.  Would they? 

 

The constant prickling on his skin served as a reminder to not trust the Aes Sedai too far.  They had struck first when they had come to the Black Tower.  And now, he was outnumbered severely in their home.  It was understandable, even expected, that they would be on guard around so many Asha'man.  He did not like it though.  Apart from himself and Covai, almost all of the others held Saidin, and likely had a dozen nasty weaves ready to fly on a moments notice.  It never hurt to be prepared.

 

After a goodly walk, the odd group approached a large set of doors in an expansive hallway.  As they all filed into what must be the Amyrlin's antechamber, Arath issued quick orders to the rest of the Asha'man.

 

"Wait here for us.  And for the love of the Light, don't do anything stupid."  There really wasn't much else to say that hadn't already been covered.  Before they had left the farm they had all been instructed on what might happen.  If they felt excessive amounts of channeling inside, they were to travel away immediately.  If things went that badly, all they could hope to do would be escape and inform the other Storm Leaders.

 

Arath gave each man a look, meeting each of their eyes and hopeing that they would remember their orders.  A few moments later, he turned and followed the peg legged sister into the Amrylin's office. 

 

He took a quick glance around the room, habitually checking for enemies.  And taking in the sights of a room no one of his kind had ever seen before.  Nobody was lurking in the corners though, except for one nervous looking accepted, and some expensive looking furniture and paintings.  The rest of the rooms inhabitants were arraigned in front of the large desk.  A half dozen women, all with gazes that would have made Arath's skin crawl even without Saidar, stood tight lipped and watching the pair of Storm Leaders like vipers.

 

"Mother, Keeper, Sitters. I bring before you these Asha'man who have come to speak with you. I  fear I do not know their names so I will step back and let you begin."  The Red sister took a step back and watched expectantly.  Arath wondered what it was she wanted to see.  After a few unpleasant thoughts drifted through his mind he pushed the notion away.  He'd rather not know.

 

A few uneasy moments passed, both sides staring at each other, unsure of what to do.  Arath glanced at Covai, who met his gaze and shrugged.  "Well I guess we'll start then," Covai said with an unconcerned grin.  "Storm Leader Covai Seriba.  This is Storm Leader Arath Faringal.  I see you've already met the M'Hael," he added, his grin twisting slightly as he pointed to the sack with the dusty skull in it.  "We're here under orders from the Dragon Reborn to work out some sort of peace agreement with you ladies."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Zarinen returned Saya’s respectful greeting with a small nod; just enough to let the woman know she had seen it, but hopefully not enough that the men … the black coated men who threatened to take her breath away … would realise that she was anyone of specific importance. If they threatened the Amyrlin in any way, she wanted their attention away from her – surprise attack might be the only advantage she had.

 

The men who entered on Saya’s heels were a surprise. These were the Black Tower leaders? They were so … young!  Her usual deceptively sweet smile seemed frozen in place, and yet again she had to fight the urge to cover herself with her shawl. Her mind flashed back to another young man who had been able to channel. Oddly, the pain she always felt when thinking of him steadied her somewhat. She had been able to deal with Arno. Right up until the end, she had dealt with him. Surely these men would be no more difficult to handle?

 

She relaxed as her confidence returned, and almost chuckled as the one who seemed to be the leader informed them just who’s skull they had brought with as a … present? Did these … boys think that Aes Sedai would flinch at the sight of their previous leader’s head? By the slightly satisfied smirk on this Covai’s lips, he seemed quite pleased at the demise of their M’Hael. Maybe had had a hand in it? It would do well to remember that these boys were dangerous. Until properly tamed, dangerous.

 

But what was this? The Dragon Reborn had sent them to work out a peace agreement? There was already a truce in place, announced to the world with Aes Sedai word being given. What more could they possibly … help? Could that be what they were after? If so, that would put them in the position of supplicants. They might be more amenable to certain … requests. Her eyes flitted to the Mother’s before she could prevent it. Would Shevara be thinking along the same lines? She dared not speak – dared not reveal her position to these boys.

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Shevara nodded to Saya, then turned her attention to the two black coated men who had sauntered in with her. Their arrogant attitude set her teeth on edge, but she listened to the one who seemed the leader with as polite a face as she could muster. It took all her self-control not to let her surprise at their request show. There already was a peace agreement between the White Tower and this so-called Black Tower! What more could they possibly want? And at the behest of the Dragon Reborn, no less! She caught the quick look from Zarinen, and schooled her face to mild interest. Whatever it was, they could turn this to their advantage, if handled properly. There was no need for further ears, though.

 

“Jerinia, there is a store-room leading off from the ante-chamber. Go fetch enough chairs for everyone, then wait outside in the hallway for any further instructions. No one is to enter the ante-chamber until we are done here. And child, your lack of self-control has led you into deep enough waters already today. If you do not contain your excitement from now on, you will not like the consequences. If you breathe so much as a word about what happened today to anyone … do I make myself perfectly clear?” That should put the fear of Light into the child and keep her mouth shut. Judging by the squeak as Jerinia leapt to obey; hopefully.

 

She turned to Saya. “I presume the rest of the Asha’man are in my ante-chamber?” A quick nod from Saya confirmed that. “Please make sure they are comfortable and keep them entertained until we are done with our discussion here.” She hoped the look she gave the Red sister along with those words conveyed what she could not put into words: these men were not to be allowed out of her sight.  The Red left as Jerinia rushed in with the extra chairs.

 

Shevara seated herself in the Amyrlin’s Seat, then waved permission for everyone else to sit. The Keeper, as usual, came to stand beside her. “Now then, gentleman – how can we be of assistance to you?”  Assistance they surely wanted, or they wouldn’t be here.

 

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Watcher of the Seals

The Flame of Tar Valon

The Amyrlin Seat

 

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Covai couldn't help but raise an eyebrow as he grinned in amusement at the Amrylin spoke. Assistance? All the time he had spent walking the halls, corridors and stairs of the White Tower, his stomach had been gnawing at him uneasily. Somehow, instead of wishing he had more time to think things over, the speed of their admittance did more to ease his fears than any amount of time in an ante-chamber could. Light! These women were scared!

 

..no, not scared. Covai corrected himself as his eyes scanned the room. On edge, but these were hardened woman, may years older then either Arath or himself. Covai's eyes darted to one of the women, a rather attractive Saldean, if such could still be said for an Aes Sedai, who....

 

...wore a red shawl... Covai hated the Reds. Some mistook his hate for simple vengeance, a desire to rebel against the Ajah for what they had done to male channelers. Truth, they frustrated him because of their boneheaded ignorance and assumed superiority. Women were bad enough at that as it was, but burn him if the Red Ajah didn't take it to a whole new level.

 

They've got something up their sleeves....

 

The grin stayed on Covai's face, but the brief warmth of humor it held slipped away as is insides started to boil. Today was not a day for Aes Sedai and their Daes Dae'mar. If they wanted to hide something up their sleeves, then light damn them he'd burn the bloody things off!

 

"Let me clarify what I meant by peace." Covai did what he could to keep his voice mellow, pushing away his feelings about the Red Ajah for the moment.

 

"Tar'Mon'Gaidon is approaching. The Dragon needs every weapon and everyone at his disposal at that time."

 

"That means the Dragon needs circles."

 

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*shakes up the thread a bit*

 

***

 

Jagen had fallen rather silent on the way to the Amyrlin's chambers. She stayed behind the others too, holding her hands calmly together in front of her waist as they glided down the halls. Well, perhaps glided wasn't quite the right word, but she was trying to keep her composure. Though the hair on the back of her neck seemed to prickle at the very thought of Asha'man being so close. She wanted to shiver.

 

Inside the Amyrlin's chambers she gave a proper curtsy as the rest of them, then clasped her hands together again to keep herself from folding them across her chest. She noted Raslyn seeming to fix her hair and dress. Jagen was determined she would do no such thing. Not that her dark red silk needed smoothing, or her beaded braids needed adjusting. Her Taraboner veil barely even fluttered as she breathed. Calm. She had to be calm, she told herself. It was not that she was afraid--oh no, not surrounded by her fellow Sitters of her own Ajah, the Highest, and the Amyrlin and Keeper. She was more irritated than anything else, and if one looked they could probably note her naturally pouty lips were just a bit thinner than usual. And just what was an Accepted doing here? This was certainly not the place and time. Yes, irritated was definitely it.

 

Her lips became thinner as a loud knocking sounded on the door, revealing Saya, a woman Jagen cared naught for and only recognized her because of her peg.

""Mother, Keeper, Sitters. I bring before you these Asha'man who have come to speak with you. I  fear I do not know their names so I will step back and let you begin," Saya announced.

 

Jagen raised her chin. She folded her arms loosely, a hand resting just above each elbow. This close, she was on the verge of embracing saidar. But Saya already held it. Jagen didn't want to appear too eager, but she liked being cautious. The others would perhaps realize how close she was to embracing it, even though all logic counted against it.

She was sure it was her irritation causing her irrationality.

 

Then the men followed. Her gaze fixed on the first man like a hawk, the corners of her blue eyes tightening in a look of hatred and disgust, her upper lip curling into a small sneer. They introduced themselves. Covai Seriba. Arath Faringal. Names she would never forget. Supposed and undeserved titles she ignored. And they looked much, much to young for them besides. Vaguely, a thought came across her mind wondering if they only looked that way because of the Power, but that speculation was gone as quick as it had come. Now was not the time for such thoughts.

 

He said something about the M'Hael and gestured to the sack on the desk, where a nasty smell was coming from, but the Taraboner did not avert her gaze from these men. She was like an arrow aimed at a target. A harmless sack was not her concern. The dead could not harm the living; she had to concentrate on the two predators in front of her. A group of tigers versus two wolves, she thought. Both predators, but she certainly determined the Aes Sedai stronger than these... boys.

 

Any malicious thoughts going through her head temporarily left as the man called Covai spoke again. "We're here under orders from the Dragon Reborn to work out some sort of peace agreement with you ladies."

 

It took all of her willpower not to bark a laugh at the ridiculousness of that one. And with something already in place, how dare they come asking for more? She nearly bit her tongue, forcing herself to listen as the Amyrlin spoke. It was protocol for now, and once the chairs were settled all around, Jagen took a seat one away from Zarinen, and at an angle to the two Asha'man. Her gaze never left them. Her hands rested on her lap, but her fingers twitched. She was ready to pounce.

 

Covai spoke again. Clarifying himself, it seemed. Circles?

"Circles can be formed well enough by well trained Aes Sedai," she said coolly. "Certainly we do not need a bunch of boys to march in here and tell us how to handle Tarmon Gaidon with the Dragon!" She couldn't help but be one of the first to speak. She could only handle her own irritation for so long in the presence of insolence.

Edited by Jagen Sedai
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Arath resisted the urge to rub the goosebumps on his arms.  It was a pity he could't tell exactly which one of the Aes Sedai was holding the source.  He doubted that they all were, but it was impossible to tell for sure.  He didn't blame them for it.  He held onto his own connection with Saidin, so at the very least he would know if they tried to shield him.

 

As Covai spoke, Arath kept his eyes moving around the room, constantly watching for unexpected movement.  From what he had observed of the Aes Sedai 'guests' at the Farm, most Aes Sedai used small gestures in many of their weaves, tell-tale signs that they were up to something.  All the while he listened carefully to Covai's words.  He had his own part to play in this and had to be ready to pick up seamlessly where Covai left off.  Soon enough one of the red shawled Aes Sedai, one with constantly twitching fingers, spoke up.

 

"Circles can be formed well enough by well trained Aes Sedai.  Certainly we don't need a bunch of boys to march in here and tell us how to handle Tarmon Gaidon with the Dragon!"

 

Arath couldn't help but bark out a laugh.  "Yes.  Your Aes Sedai wisdom has certainly been flawless regarding him so far.  What with kidnapping him and stuffing him in a box.  And then attacking the Black Tower which exists to fight for him in the Last Battle.  One would think that the White Tower would leap on any oportunity that he extended for peace.  But now you would discard his attempt to reach out to those he has no love, or even respect, for?  That sounds like petty prejudice rather than vaunted Aes Sedai wisdom."

 

Hardly the most diplomatic speech, but Arath was hardly a diplomatic person.  Not that he didn't have the subtlety for it.  He just lacked the patience, especially with these women.  "We learned something about circles from your sisters who were our ... guests.  And trust me when I say your paultry circles won't even give pause to what will come.  What is already coming."

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Shevara tsked in irritation.  She wasn't certain if it was for Jagen's outburst or for the arrogance of the black coated emmissaries.  The sitters were on edge, the Asha'man openly hostile, if detemined even so.  This must mean a great deal to the Dragon Reborn.  But they were once again ignoring the salient fact that the White Tower already had an alliance with the Black.  One that had been published to the rulers of the nations.  An alliance made by her predecessor and the...late...M'Hael, but one that was only a bare handful of months old.  

 

She shook her head sadly.  "I did not put the Dragon Reborn in a box.  I did not send Aes Sedai to attack the Black Tower.  No offer for peace has been rejected.  Our treaty with the Black Tower was ratified mere months ago.  I am willing to reaffirm that agreement.  But first, I want you to see why women were sent to the Black Tower.  You stilled the woman who was to show this to you.  I will do so now."  She reached gently, almost reverently, for the ter'angreal that Zarinen held.  "I am going to activate this now, gentlemen, it will not harm you.  I suggest you pay attention, for it will explain much."

 

As she activated the ter'angreal a bright pool of radiant light formed into colors and shaped itself into the figure of a man. He was tall and handsome, with thin mustaches laying like feathers neatly trimmed on his lip. At his side was a long warder's sword with a heron's mark.  He was not well muscled... instead thin and lithe... like a reed. His eyes were blue and held an intensity of the sea before a storm.  Were it not for the threads of saidar, moving in and out of him, one could easily mistake him for something real and solid.

 

The man's hair was long and dark and pulled back from his face. On his forehead he wore something that looked like a hadori of the Malkari with a singular object that likely caught the attention of the group standing the Amyrlin's study - a small medallion, the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai.

 

One did not have to be an Aes Sedai with their talent for reading people to see that his eyes were focused upon the imagined image of someone he thought would know him and likely cared deeply for him.  

 

His gaze had this way of seeming to look right through a woman to her very soul. It would be clear, to even a novice, that he had something on his mind and it weighed him down greatly. And then, just as everyone was getting used to the sight of a man from another age suddenly they were startled anew to hear a voice come forth from his lips in a strange alien voice that seemed to speak on top of itself as if two or three men in his voice were speaking at once.

 

With his words, Shevara translated his strangely accented, the proper accent she noted, Old Tongue.

 

"Sister," she began, "I'm reminded, looking across the ocean and its calm today, of the sky the day we last sat together on the steps of the Hall of Servants in Paaran Disen."  A glimmer comes to his eye and he manages to blink it back.  "I wanted to give up then," a smile grows on his face that threatens to touch his eyes even as sadness builds there.  Obviously the happy memory, in his dark moment, is nearly too much to bear.

 

"But it was your conviction and courage, that fire in your eyes, your voice, your heart that not only stirred the Hall to hope when the world would say we had none but in me as well.  For that, and this dream that I am dying in, I can not begin to give you thanks enough.  Had you not earned the Name already if the world were as it was." The man carefully touches his knuckles to his lips and then puts it over his heart in a manner that was similar to what the Shienarans did still today.  Shevara smiled slightly at the look of reverence and love that came across his face, whoever the woman was that he had been speaking to, he must have cared for her deeply.

 

But his pause did not last, and his lovely face was once again lined heavy with regret.  "I'm afraid the news is not good and so I send to you this recorder in the hopes that it finds you before my compatriots do." The man swallowed a deep pause, his tone carrying mountains of emotion to a woman no one would ever know.

 

"Despite all the research, all your wisdom and advice and your prayers, the experiment has resulted in failure and worse for some.  The taint grew in those who offered themselves to the testing, and they are like their brothers before them." Shevara's brief smile faded, and her expession grew tight again, thinking of all the men she had come across over the last century that she had sworn herself to the Red Ajah.

 

"I fear some who know where you were held up are coming for you and your ajah.. and they are most assuredly in worse conditions than I, mentally.  Never fear though, I did not betray you I have kept my honor.  I know you will survive to reach your destination safely.  The man winces a moment, a touch to his head with his hand and his image wavers slightly as if it means to fade away.  

 

The first time Shevara had seen this, it had scared her, but now she understood.  The man was fighting his pain in order to hold the weaves together which had somehow recorded his image and voice the way Browns recorded words in a book with a pen.  He was, indeed, far gone and it was a testament to his love that he could keep his thoughts and wits enough to make this message.  

 

"I have stopped who I could but I lack the strength to cut the weaves of so many different portals.  And so now, I fear, the world is suffering as I record this message.  In not stopping them, I have failed them as a Servant, but I take little solace that I will not live to see what has been done.  This message, Sister, is my only consolation to the souls I and my brothers unwittingly have endangered and I fear that my gift to them must be a burden upon you."

 

The man wets his lips and seems to focus more intently as he continues, "Your speech to the Hall has remained with me these long days and nights.  In all this time I have contemplated what would become of the world should every man find himself in danger of being as we are, a sword at the throats of his sons and a plague of death upon his daughters, a misery which could only rot the soul of his wife just as I too am rotting, and I-"  The man grits his teeth and Shevara's voice wavered slightly.  

 

"I can not bear the thought of this more, than I ever loved this gift I have been given, which has now, through our arrogance, been turned into a curse.  And so I know without doubt or fear, what must be done. But Sister, I will not live to do it and so I must ask you and your ajah Sisters to take up your words spoken that day, from this day on, as an Oath."

 

"If ever you felt anything for our bond Sister, do not let this fate be that of our world.  Guardians of Humanity, that was what you called the Hall of Servants in this dark hour of the world and so you must promise to be always."

 

"Ever to Watch, and Ever to Guard not just their lives which are so fleeting in the Creator's sight, but to Ever Watch and Guard our world and the hope of a future.  A future which I know that you see with the greatest of clarity."  

 

"I have seen the love you have in your eyes and heart for even those who have hated you, and it is this strength to love that you must shelter in this storm of Ages.  Fan it to life in each young girl who comes to learn from you.  Show her how to not fear the dark and the end which comes to all things, or to selfishly hunt for and demand the Light for her own path, but to instead build up the Light within her own heart, so brightly, that it can shine as a guide for others who are so lost in this night that has fallen upon our world."

 

His lip quivers, and it clear the words that come next are a struggle.  "Love us enough to steal it away."  A pregnant pause leaves a silence that could be cut with a knife.  Perhaps the woman who was to hear this in the past did not know what he meant, but everyone in the room here in the Age of the Dragon Reborn, did.  

 

"Take the pleasure before it can be truly known to us Sister.  Steal Saidin from them that they may never feel it's song or it's sickness until a remedy is found."  The man's words were not spoken with eloquence at this point, though they were beautiful in their own way.

 

"In time, as with all things, these men will pass from our world and the madness will destroy the last of those who were once truly great and in that lull you and your ajah must go forward with that courage and love and seek out all would-be students where they reside and end their pain before their pain begins.  You must have the strength to grant them this mercy though they may die just the same for the loss, they need not suffer so greatly as...as those before them."  

 

"Let their families love them …if they have the strength and if they do not, you must be to them as you have to me."  The image of the beautiful man fades away and a rotting corpse stands in all it's agony where the man had been only a second before.  Clearly the recorder had beheld a powerful illusion the man had built around himself and this was the result, and the true tale of his terrible suffering.

 

"I can not come to you as THIS...thing!"  He nearly spit's the word.  "I can see you there now in your horror of me and my suffering, and how your Sisters must be comforting you, and it is in their embrace you must find your strength.  Let their love and care be your legs when you have none left to stand upon.  When all that you are is questioned and besmeared by the world when you are haunted by the memory of what you have done and hated for what you must do, in times when men have forgotten what my brothers and I have done to their world, THEY will remember.  THEY will love you as I have loved you."  His voice drops to a whisper another tear flowing down his cheek freely.  "I love you."

 

The man unsheathes his sword.  "The color of your banner Sister, let it be your reminder of those who have gone on in this task; for crimson shall be everywhere anyone can see for perhaps lifetimes to come... until the time when this malady afflicts us no more and we can again be as one."

 

"Look to it, and remember me fondly as I was and not as the monster I have become.  Remember my last service to all, and the last gift we shall all give when the last embrace of the mother welcomes us home.  Until the day we are together again Sister... I will rest well knowing that you keep the watch."  The man kneels and places the sword point to his stomach and slides the blade inward and pulls up and to the left quickly, the sight is as gruesome a thing as any Shevara had seen.

 

The image remains only a few moments, his red blood flowing smoothly out of him like a streaming crimson banner in the wind on a clear day.  Ironically, or perhaps by his last weave (though the Light alone knew how he managed such focus) the torrent pooled into a vague shape of the great seal, and there, after only a few more moments of a most holy silence, it was done.

 

Shevara looked straight at the Asha'man as the ter'angreal grew quiet.  "That, is why the Red Ajah exists.  That is why I will pledge to reaffim the treaty that already exists between the Black Tower and the White.  That is why this hostility and outbursts must stop.  We will have a lasting peace, but it must be based on respect and understanding.  Not the bitterness and resentment of false pride and assumptions.  If you can accept that, then we can continue.  If not, then I have nothing left to say."

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Watcher of the Seals

The Flame of Tar Valon

The Amyrlin Seat

 

OOC note: Mad props to Telcia, who wrote the original description of the ter'angreal and its message. :D

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Covai ran his fingers through his hair and scratched his head as he looked at the Amrylin. "So... you did not put the Dragon in a box.....you did not send Aes Sedai to the tower....." Covai let the words hang in the air for a moment. "To me, it sounds like you don't have very good control over your Aes Sedai, Shevara." Whether it was the emphasis on the Amrylin, or the fact he called her by her name rather than title Covai didn't care. The fact was though, none of the Aes Sedai in the room were impressed with his lack of subtly, tact, or manner. Light, half of them looked like they'd just as soon bend him over their knee with a switch. They were probably old enough to think they could do it too.

 

"If you follow that logic, then we.." Covai geustured to Arath and himself "...are not the ones you made the treaty with. Nor did you make it with Jarron Al'Tanin." The underlying threat in his words were echoed in Covai's eyes. These women had no treaty to hide behind. And their oaths prevented them from striking first. If Covai and Arath wished it, they could easily overpower and take over half of the room before they had a chance to strike back.

 

Covai waved irritatedly at the Ter'angreal on the desk. "You all witness one man's dying request, and think that it gives you a free hand to end the lives of how many is it? Hundreds? Thousands of lives over the years? Aes Sedai were once both women and men. Yet look at yourselves now. The once proud Servants are now no more than a half of what they were."

 

Covai stood, shaking his head in bemusement as he started to pace. "For thousands of years your tower here has stood, and yet what has been accomplished. Judging by all records, the tower has never even come close to regaining what was lost from the Age of Legends. You all seem to be too interested playing Daes Dae'mar, deluding yourselves that because you can channel, because you've been chosen or touched by the creator himself, or light, because you can call yourselve a Servant of All, somehow that means you know better than anybody and everybody how things should be done."

 

"You hide behind this Ter'Angrael and its message, implying that your actions are done out of love.." Holding up a hand to stall one of the Aes Sedai who went to speak, Covai continued. "I won't argue the point that the man's sister who he sent the message to may have had those feelings. Light, I haven't even argued about that fact you women had to translate this thing for us....."

 

Covai paused for a moment. "No, burn you all." Spinning to face the Amrylin, Covai spoke. "Shevara Edosian, do I have your word as Amrylin Seat, and Aes Sedai, that those words you spoke are a directly translation of the message we've seen. If so, how do you know? Was the translation done by yourself or another?"

 

Covai scratched his chin as he kept his eyes on the women. Light burn him if he's light Aes Sedai word tricks get in the way of things today.

 

 

 

 

 

OOC: Figured this was a good point to break, feel free to just answer 'yes', Covai has a lot more ranting to get through :D

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Larindhra folded her hands in her lap and calmly listened to the ... boy's ranting. Honestly, they acted worse than most new novices! She itched to take them both by the ears, drag them down to the Mistress of Novices' office and teach them some manners. As it was, all she could do was hitch her shawl up and try not to sniff loudly.

 

 

Larindhra Reyne

Red Sitter

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Perhaps Larindhra was remaining silent, and the others thus far too, but Jagen's temper was rising again. Such disrespect! Any fear or nervousness of the fact that he could channel was replaced by contempt.

The Taraboner Red took a step forward. "You will show respect to the Amyrlin Seat," she said coolly, her dark blue eyes meeting his. "The Amyrlin Seat, she certainly does not have to answer to you, and perhaps you forget where you are. This is the White Tower. It is not your mother's kitchen. If you do not show some manners, we may very well turn you out. That would be bad for you, yes? I think you had best make an apology. Me, I think you do not realize what we can do." Her eyes narrowed slightly with that last sentence, and her fingers seemed to be itching to move--to channel, perhaps, or even to reach out with a desire to ring his neck...

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Covai raised an eyebrow at the Taraboner. "Show some manners and apologise? Well I'll admit we didn't intend on turning up in one of your gardens inside the tower. Light, we planned on turning a few miles outside of Tar Valon and riding the rest of the way." Covai took a slight step backwards, bowing toward the women. "So for turning up so unannounced I aplogoise. And you have my thanks for your gracious and speedy reception of us."

 

Covai straightened himself again. "However, the Amrylin herself, just moments ago anknowledged any lasting peacse must be based on respect and understanding. I respect your intelligence laides by cutting to the point and being honest. If you prefer we can dance words around the table like Cairhien nobles, but this is not a time for games."

 

"You talk of understanding, which is exactly why I asked my question. Like it or not, the tower as hunted men who could channel." Covai's eyes locked on the Taraboner. "You think I've forgotten where I am and what you are? I stand amongest women who have hunted anybody who shares my traits in the past, and you think my asking if the explanation given to me was honest is too much?"

 

"I would think you would know Aes Sedai can speak only the truth"

 

"Maybe. But telling the truth and being honest are two different things" Covai responded, his voice taking a softer, almost disappointed tone. "Lies by ommission are still lies, remember that."

 

"So let me clarify and expand the details for you." Covai regained himself and took his seat again, facing Shevara across the desk. "Less than two weeks ago the Black Tower answered a call from Sheinar. The Shadow had attacked and Fal Moran was overrun. We had three Asha'man there at the time, and only one made it back through a gateway. The wound across his chest was not made by any blade or arrowhead. No hand held weapon burns flesh like that."

 

"Long story short, we lost over a hundred men that day. Lightning and fire rained down from clear skies that day, and only of it was our doing. If you want the details I'll give them to you, but for now I'll get to the point."

 

Covai's eyes narrowed. "The shadow has channelers on their side. Get me your oath road if you like but its the honest truth. Unless of course you suddenly have sisters running around with Trollocs we should know about." The humor in Covai's voice was dry and hollow.

 

"We don't know how many there are or how well trained, but they were strong enough to push through most of our defences." Covai's eyes darted to the Taraboner who seemed to be the only other one here speaking their mind. "Before you even start to say they were only boys without training, don't. If you want to gauge the training the Asha'man recieve, I'll submit to whatever tests you like. Besides, I was at Dumai Wells, I know female channeling when I'm up against it." Covai let the sore point rest with that.

 

"So when I say Tar'Mon'Gaidon is coming, I mean it. This isn't just some rambling on about prophesies or worried speaking the Dark One's name will somehow summon him. The simple fact is we can't afford to fight amongst each other any more."

 

"As you said Shevara, this is not the time for false pride or assumptions. The previous treaty was formed out of chaos and a desire to cease the bloodshed between us. It was a desperate measure made by desperate people. That is no foundation for a future."

 

"I've laid our cards on the table. The Dragon wants, and needs the White Tower on his side. We're not asking you to bow down and scrape before him, but at the same time, don't expect to carry the Dragon around on a leash before you."

 

"If we continue, we both need to live up to our namesakes. Aes Sedai and Asha'man. The Servants and Guardians of all."

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Arath nodded in agreement with Covai's words.  Once the other Storm Leader was finished, he added a few of his own.  "Like Covai said, the previous agreement, made under duress by your side, was more of a ceasefire.  And made by a fool who tried to kill us to prevent this meeting from happening.

 

"We don't care if you love us.  Light, if the last 3000 years are the result from you 'loving' us, I'm not sure I even want you to like me.  All I want is to win the last battle.  And as things stand, that will ... not ... happen.  Four hundred Asha'man answered the call to go to Shienar.  Four hundred."  He paused for a moment to let that number sink in.  Covai might have skimmed over the details, but Arath believed that some of them were vitally important.  "The mere thought that so many of us exists frightens you, much less if that number had suddenly shown up in Tar Valon looking for a fight.  The dreadlords didn't even pause.  Almost a hundred of us were slaughtered in minutes inside the walls of Fal Dara, in horrific ways we'd never even dreamed of.  The rest of us were driven out with ease not even an hour later.  I doubt we killed more than a dozen of them ... maybe not even that.  You should know by now that we're no easy meat.  How many Aes Sedai do you think it would take to replicate that bit of butchery?

 

"That, Amyrlin, is why the hostility must stop.  Not for some misunderstood love which somewhere turned into hatred, but for survival.  Respect and understanding are all well and good, but after three millenium of strife, understanding may take decades to achieve.  And we don't exactly have that much time, if you know what I mean.  I don't expect a lasting peace from you.  For all your talk of equality I expect that you'll start gentling us again before the dust even settles from the Last Battle.  All we want is the chance to win it first."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Frightened?  These boys knew nothing.  It had been over a hundred years since Shevara had been frightened simply by a man who could channel.  Dressing them up in black coats changed nothing.  The Last Battle, though, that changed much.  The White Tower had an entire Ajah of women dedicated to nothing other than combat, with and without the One Power, and had trained to work in tandem for centuries.  This Black Tower had only a few years.  Of course they would not be able to stand as well as the Aes Sedai working in circles and with angreal.  But over one hundred channellers falling in one day, no matter their level of skill.  That did give her pause.  She knew the Dragon Reborn would not, could not, fight Tarmon Gai'don alone.  He must, somehow, face the Dark One.  But the Aes Sedai must face the Dreadlords. 

 

Shevara nodded solemnly.  "Truly, this is a horrifying development from Shienar, and I thank you both for relaying the message.  However, if you are not willing to affirm lasting peace beteween the White Tower and the Black on the same terms as our predecessors agreed, then we cannot help you or the Dragon with forming circles for Tarmon Gai'don.  Signed under duress or not, I consider the treaty to be a fair one.  You will not get better terms.  The Black Tower and the White stand as equals to the world.  There is to be no interference in the affairs of one another.  Such has already been published in all the courts in the Westlands.  The White Tower stands by her word.  Will you?  If you will not, go now, and take your men with you.  Do not return with threats or idle prattle about wishing to work together in respect if you are not willing to work with or show respect to your allies."

 

"However," her voice cooled, and she flicked her eyes toward the Red Sitters, "if you can, at this very moment, affirm a lasting peace between the two Towers, one that will outlive all of us, I will have the papers drawn up immediately and we may discuss what to do about the threats to the North.  The Red Ajah came to me recently with a plan to increase the cooperation between Aes Sedai and Asha'man.  I believe it is one that has potential, and as Amyrlin, I will allow it.  But I will only allow such cooperation with ones who will be allies."

 

There, plainly stated, was what Shevara would accept.  If these boys were not interested, she would have them out of her Tower within the hour.  If they were, she would let Zarinen speak regarding her plan for the Red Ajah.  Her face a mask of Aes Sedai calm, inwardly her irritation prickled at Covai's tantrum.  She had greeted them with all respect, as ambassadors from an ally.  Well, she would give them this final chance.  Her blue eyes met Covai's and Arath's in turn and awaited an answer.

 

-Shevara Edosian

The Watcher of the Seals

The Flame of Tar Valon

The Amyrlin Seat

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Arath shared an exasperated look with Covai, then began to turn toward the door, wondering just how to explain this to the Lord Dragon.  Blood and ashes!  Did the fool woman not see that the entire point of this visit was to come up with an agreement better than the previous one?  The old treaty said nothing of being allies!  The primary purpose had been to stop members of one tower from killing the other!  If we wanted to keep the old treaty we could have just stayed at the bloody Farm!  Before he could take a step though, the other Storm Leader reached out and stopped him.

 

In a surprisingly level voice, Covai tried again. "You do realise that you've just repeated back what's already been said, right?" Letting out a resigned sigh as he shrugged his shoulders, Covai wondered if the taint hadn't really effected the Aes Sedai more than the Asha'man. Dealing with this woman was like talking to a brick wall. A rather egotistical and deaf brick wall. Still, Jarron's orders were orders, and he wasn't able to back away from them.

 

"Whatever make you women happy." Covai said. "Keep your pride and the paper it's written on. You want to hold fast to the previous treaty, fine.  We dared hope for more, but we'll honor it.  But don't stick to it then talk about drawing up new papers in the same breath. You also wrongly assumed we wouldn't hold up our end. We never said that. Since you ladies seem to fond of word play, let me spell it out for you."

 

"You said that YOU did not put the Dragon in the box, as if that removed all burden of guilt from the Tower." Covai geustured towards Shevara. "All we said was that following that flawed logic, the treaty in existance is meaningless, since it was made with a dead madman, not with the Dragon. If you inferred that as a threat, that I'm saddened to see that logic and sense frightens you so."  Covai paused to spread his hands apart, allowing the comment to linger, as spiteful as doing so may have been.

 

"However I'm sure we can both accept those ideas and incorrectly arrived at. The treaty stands, as do previous burdens of guilt, which we have already agreed to move on from. So enough with the word games. The ... peace ... between us is affirmed."

 

"You spoke of a plan to increase co-operation between Aes Sedai and Asha'man. We'd be happy to hear more of it."

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Raslyn stood to one side of the Amyrlin Seat watching all that went on, her analytical mind absorbing and examining all the conversations taking place and storing the information for further study.

After all the parties had said their pieces, Raslyn looked to Mother for instruction. They shared a long look and Raslyn knew what she had to do. 

 

Drawing herself up and adjusting her stole on her shoulders, she faced the Asha'men with a stern countenance, "Gentlemen, I can offer one thing to help seal this arrangement. The Red Ajah can and must change their attitude towards men that can Channel. In short, gentlemen, the Red Ajah will agree to.." she paused and stole a quick glance at Mother before continuing.. "bond your Asha'men."

 

She heard a tiny gasp from somewhere to the side of her but kept her eyes on Covai and Arath. "Well, what do you say?" she asked firmly. They would not know how she really felt about the prospect, they would not!

 

Raslyn Altearin

Keeper of the Chronicles

Nervous as hell!

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Arath chewed his bottom lip for a moment after the Keeper had said her part.  He had always thought the taint only affected Saidin, but these last few minutes were making him wonder.

 

With a sigh, Arath broke the silence.  "I believe we were just told that we ... 'will not get better terms'.  A hat for a cat, or a cat for a hat, Aes Sedai ..."  He left the remainder of the old phrase unsaid.  But nothing for nothing.  

 

"Still, I guess it's a step in the right direction at least.  We didn't come here to reaffirm the old treaty, but get something new.  Lets work with what we have though."  Arath undid a button on his coat and reached inside to an inner pocket.  From within, he pulled out a worn sheet of paper he had recovered from Brent's office.  "This is the original copy of the treaty.  It says a great deal about 'cessation of hostilities' and lots of big fancy words.  It also mentions," he paused to unfold the paper and quickly scanned through it, "blah blah blah ... 'hereby affirm the equality between the Black Tower, and the White Tower.'"

 

He directed a questioning look at Covai, who nodded in approval.  "Fine.  We can handle you bonding Asha'man.  But half of the bonds will be held by us."  He saw more than one pair of eyes widen in shock at his words.  "Or did you not mean all that stuff you said about equality, respect, and understanding?"

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Larindhra could not prevent the tiny gasp that escaped her lips when the Keeper announced that insane plan of Zarinen's. Light blasted woman! Well, at least these men weren't going to fall for that ploy. Not judging by the way they had barged in here and insulted the Mother. Bunch of rude yobs.

 

She regarded them sourly, but confident that they would laugh at the offer made them. They might be taint maddened, but she was pretty sure they were not that insane.

 

A smile started to creep around her lips as Arath spoke. Yes, she had been right. They were going to reject that offer and some other course of action could be worked out. Something a bit less insane than Zarinen ... Arath's next word made her choke and jump out of her chair.

 

"What?? Are you insane??" She stared at the men, aghast. "Aes Sedai do not get bonded, young man!"

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Jagen couldn't help but feel a lump in her throat come up as the Keeper brought up that foolish plan of Zarinen's to bond Asha'man. That nervous feeling that had been laying dormant in her since the beginning of the meeting suddenly rose up, and involuntarily her large blue eyes flicked over to Covai and Arath. A finger began to tap the serpent ring on her left hand, partly subconsciously. She waited, saying nothing, but it seemed she could almost hear her own heart pumping. Why was she suddenly so nervous? The men would never agree. And shouldn't something this big have been decided in the Hall of the Tower?

 

"Still, I guess it's a step in the right direction at least," Arath stated. His too leisure attitude was rather upsetting to the tall Red. Her irritation rose as he kept speaking. "We didn't come here to reaffirm the old treaty, but get something new.  Lets work with what we have though." That tapping on her ring grew faster, methodical.

 

The black coated man glanced at his companion and nodded. "Fine.  We can handle you bonding Asha'man.  But half of the bonds will be held by us."

 

Whatever he said after that was half missed, her eyes widening. Her finger stilled. Before she could get words out of her mouth, Larindhra voiced her own thoughts. "What? Are you insane? Aes Sedai do not get bonded, young man!"

 

Jagen nodded to herself slowly, calming her expression. Yes, Larindhra had it right. No Aes Sedai got bonded of course, the man wasn't thinking. Not that she expected him to. She felt she had to say something in support of her fellow Sitter.

 

"Bonding, that is something only done by Aes Sedai," she said in the same tone she used for lecturing novices and Accepted. "It is not something that gets done to them of course. It's not right. I might not be well versed in too much Tower law, but certainly it is custom, and that's just as strong." And that seemed to settle the argument for the Taraboner, her long beaded braids clicking as she nodded to herself. A custom as strong as law would not change--she hoped--though in a way, it already was. But she could help it only so much. And that man was looking at her now. It took all of her willpower not to at least roll the uncomfortable feeling out of her shoulders.

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Thus far, Jasmyne had been watching, like a cat in a tavern. Just observing and seeing how things panned out. It was probably for the best. She was in a slightly tight position. Her drive for power was in conflict with her desire to serve her master, all while keeping her cover. There really wasn't much she could do at this point. Nothing other than watch and make sure things kept going.

 

Jasmyne kept her calm when they proposed that Aes Sedai bond Asha'man. She would rather enjoy that, having a pet, one she could tap into. It was like having a personal angreal that would carry your things as well. Maybe these men could be rather useful after all. Yes, she liked this plan.

 

"Fine.  We can handle you bonding Asha'man.  But half of the bonds will be held by us."

 

She couldn't help but utter a squeak. What did they want!? The other Sitters responded quickly and she almost thought they might start something right here, ceasefire or not. Especially Jagen, she seemed like she could be a potential loose cannon around men, at least in Jasmyne's opinion. Likely everyone else thought the same thing about her, but that was horribly irrelevant.

 

"Surely the Taint has made you delusional to think any Aes Sedai would agree to be bonded by a man. True, some women could stand to be toned down a notch, but that's ridiculous. Aes Sedai are women of dignity, not to be some man's lap cat. None will stand for it." She replied in a very matter-of-fact fashion. What she said was true, but she wasn't telling the truth. She was certainly for it. She had no intention of being bonded, but she'd love to see other women put in that position, just for her own sick delight.

 

"Bonding, that is something only done by Aes Sedai. It is not something that gets done to them of course. It's not right. I might not be well versed in too much Tower law, but certainly it is custom, and that's just as strong."

 

Jagen's words rang in her mind. She felt the urge to respond, but it would give away her opinion to do so. It's only been custom because there's never been another option. Bonding is done by a channeler and the only channelers have been Aes Sedai until now. And an Aes Sedai bonding another Aes Sedai would just be pointless. Custom by default is hardly custom, in her mind. But she pushed it out of her mind, that was certainly not the issue at present.

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Arath's words came as just as big a shock to her as to the others, but her smile remained firmly in place. Even above the schooling the Reds received, either at the hands of their sisters or through life, the past twenty years had been brutal. Learning to keep her feelings to herself, unless it served her purpose not to, had been driven too hard into her for a mere boy to crack her facade.

 

The idea did not appeal to her. Not in the least. Aes Sedai being at the beck and call of a man? Aes Sedai basically being ... Warders? The idea was so ridiculous she almost laughed. On the other hand, they were men. Young men to boot. Young men could be manipulated, especially when they thought they had the upper hand. Light knew, she had first hand experience of just how a young man could be turned into putty in a woman's hands. Ruthlessly she shut out the memories of how that had ended.

 

The fact remained, they needed to get closer to these men.  If the only way to get the men to agree to Bonding was to agree to be ... on the wrong end of the Bond, so to speak, then it had to be done.  Whatever the Reds had to do to make that happen, they would just have to do. She would personally hold their noses and stuff the bad medicine down their throats, if needed. Her eyes flickered to Shevara's, and she gave the Mother an almost imperceptible nod, receiving one in return, after a brief hesitation.

 

At least one of the Sitters must have noticed, as she heard a half strangled gasp coming from their direction. Her gaze swung to them, and encountered three pairs of popping eyes. Larindhra seemed about to launch herself out of her seat, but Zarinen flashed her a furious look. Drat that meddling old cow! If she ruins everything now, I will strop her myself!  Slowly Larindhra settled herself back in her chair, an incredulous look on her face.  The other Sitters were not spared, though Jagen was slow in backing down, as usual. Strangely, Jasmyne composed herself after one glance. There really is something strange about that woman, Zarinen thought for the umpteenth time, then pushed the matter aside.

 

Despite her almost total focus on the men, Raslyn had turned her head slightly at the gasp. She stared at the Sitters and Zarinen in a slightly puzzled manner, then turned to the Amyrlin as the latter adjusted her stole slightly. "Let it not be said that the White Tower is not willing to compromise." Shevara nodded regally in Raslyn's direction. "As Amyrlin, it would not be fitting for me to negotiate Red Ajah matters, but I sure the Keeper will be acceptable to all parties concerned."

 

 

Zarinen Rafaliva

Highest of the Red Ajah

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