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 â€¦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."
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