The Great Purge
During Egwene's Accepted test, we see some fascinating bits of foreshadowing. Not the least among those bits is the fact that Egwene has somehow been raised to the Amyrlin Seat without having taken the Oaths:
TITLE: The Dragon Reborn, CHAPTER: 22 - The Price of The Ring
"What can you do, Mother?" Beldeine cried. "What can you do?" It was not clear whether she meant for Rand or for herself.
"More than anyone suspects," Egwene said. "I never held the Oath Rod, Beldeine." Beldeine's gasp followed her from the room.
Egwene's memory still played hide-and-seek with her. She knew no woman could achieve the shawl and the ring without pledging the Three Oaths with the Oath Rod firmly in hand, the ter'angreal sealing her to keep those Oaths as if they had been engraved on her bones at birth. No woman became Aes Sedai without being bound to them. Yet she knew that somehow, in some fashion she could not begin to dredge up, she had done just that.
And, of course, we all know that she was
eventually raised to Amyrlin without having sworn the Oaths, and how. It is possible that this foreshadowing is merely an aspect of the testing ter'angreal
, because Nynaeve experienced a slight bit of foreshadowing in her testing as well:
TITLE: Great Hunt, CHAPTER: 23 - The Testing
Nynaeve felt as if she had been hit in the head, blow after dazing blow. "Queen?" she said hesitantly. "We have babies?"
"Are you certain you're well? I think I had better take you to Sharina
"No." She backed away from him again. "No Aes Sedai." It isn't real. I won't be pulled into it this time. I won't!
"Very well," he said slowly. "As my wife, how could you not be Queen? We are Malkieri here, not southlanders. You were crowned in the Seven Towers at the same time we exchanged rings." Unconsciously he moved his left hand; a plain gold band encircled his forefinger. She glanced at her own hand, at the ring she knew would be there; she clasped her other hand over it, but whether to deny its presence by hiding it or to hold it, she could not have said. "Do you remember, now?" he went on. He stretched out a hand as if to brush her cheek, and she went back another six steps. He sighed. "As you wish, my love. We have three children, though only one can properly be called a baby. Maric is almost to your shoulder and can't decide if he likes horses or books better. Elnore has already begun practicing how to turn boys' heads, when she is not pestering Sharina
about when she'll be old enough to go to the White Tower."
Sharina, of course, was one of the novices that Egwene picked up on the march to Tar Valon in Murandy, and ironically, she has the potential to become even stronger than Nynaeve. She has amazing talents with administration, and if anyone has what it takes to be an Aes Sedai advisor to Nynaeve and Lan, it would be Sharina.
But still, the foreshadowing in Nynaeve's test seems small in comparison to that of Egwene's test. Could Egwene's experience be due to the resonance of the stone ring ter'angreal
TITLE - The Dragon Reborn, CHAPTER: 23 - Sealed
"Who knows what happens to those who do not come out of a ter'angreal
?" Alanna said as she joined them. The Green sister was known for her temper and her sense of humor, and some said she could flash from one to the other and back again before you could blink, but the look she gave Egwene was almost diffident. "Child, I should have stopped this when I had the chance, when I first noticed that ‚Äď reverberation. It came back. That is what happened. It came back a thousandfold. Ten thousand. The ter'angreal almost seemed to be trying to shut off the flow from saidar ‚Äď or melt itself through the floor.
You have my apologies, though words are not enough. Not for what almost happened to you. I say this, and by the First Oath you know it is true. To show my feelings, I will ask the Mother to let me share your time in the kitchens. And, yes, your visit to Sheriam, too. Had I done as I should, you would not have been in danger of your life, and I will atone for it."
"It was not your fault, Alanna Sedai," Egwene said. Why is Alanna doing this? Unless maybe to convince me she
didn't have anything to do with whatever went wrong. And maybe so she can keep an eye on me all the time.
It was that image, a proud Aes Sedai up to her elbows in greasy pots three times a day just to watch someone, that convinced her she was letting her imagination run away with her. But it was also unthinkable that Alanna should do as she said she would. In any case, the Green sister certainly had had no chance to see the list of names while tending the ter'angreal. But if Nynaeve is right, she wouldn't need to see those names to want to kill me if she is Black Ajah. Stop that!
"Really, it wasn't."
"Had I done as I should," Alanna maintained, "it would never have happened. The only time I have ever seen anything like it was once years ago when we tried to use a ter'angreal in the same room with another that may have been in some way related to it. It is extremely rare to find two such as that. The pair of them melted, and every sister within a hundred paces had such a headache for a week that she couldn't channel a spark.
What's the matter, child?"
Egwene's hand had tightened around her pouch till the twisted stone ring impressed itself on her palm through the thick cloth. Was it warm? Light, I did it myself.
"Nothing, Alanna Sedai. Aes Sedai, you did nothing wrong. You have no reason to share my punishments. None at all. None!"
I think it quite likely that the resonance between the two ter'angreal
had something to do with it. Either way, though, the bit of foreshadowing that I find most interesting is the bit that inspires the title of this theory:
TITLE - The Dragon Reborn, CHAPTER: 22 - The Price of the RingThe way back will come but on
‚Äď This time it ended abruptly.Thirteen of the Black Ajah.
She stumbled at that. It was a frightening thought, but it chilled her to the marrow beyond fear. It felt ‚Äď personal. She wanted to scream, to run and hide. She felt as if they were after her. Nonsense. The Black Ajah has been destroyed. That seemed an odd thought, too. Part of her remembered something called the Great Purge. Part of her was sure no such thing had happened.
So, in Egwene's possibly foreshadowing experience in the ter'angreal
, the Black Ajah has been destroyed, apparently completely. Though, of course, that thought was belied by the revelations throughout the rest of the episode. But wouldn't it be nice? The Black Ajah, gone forever, and only a memory. But is it possible? Is it anything other than speculation to wish that it might happen?
I think we can do better than speculation.The Black Ajah Hunters
In A Crown of Swords, Alviarin uses blackmail to close her fist on Elaida, and to use Elaida to sow chaos in the Tower. Needless to say, Elaida is not happy about this, so she seeks assistance from Seaine, apparently based solely on the fact that Seaine was the only Sitter not informed of the Sitting concerning Siuan‚Äôs deposition that did not flee to join the rebels. It is not entirely clear whether or not Elaida suspected Alviarin of being Black Ajah, for perhaps obvious reasons:
TITLE: Crossroads of Twilight, CHAPTER: 21 - A Mark
But Mesaana's response was a dismissive wave of one now-silver hand. Her face glowed like a moon around eyes blacker than coals. "That is ridiculous. Elaida cannot decide from one day to the next whether she even believes the Black Ajah exists.
You are just trying to save yourself a little pain. Perhaps a little more will instruct you in your error." Alviarin began to plead as Mesaana raised that hand higher, and a weave she remembered much too well formed in the air. She had to make the woman understand!
But Elaida was fearful if for no other reason than the possibility of the two debacles of Dumai‚Äôs Wells and the Black Tower becoming common knowledge in the Tower, and compromising her position. So, when she asked for Seaine‚Äôs assistance, she was very circumspect, dropping only small hints that her main object of investigation was Alviarin. Elaida lays her suspicions on the table quite delicately:
TITLE - A Crown of Swords, CHAPTER: 32 - Sealed to the Flame
"I want you -- I command you -- to undertake an inquiry. And you must indeed hold it in your heart. The wrong ear hearing of it might mean death, and disaster for the whole Tower."
Seaine‚Äôs eyebrows twitched. Death and disaster for the whole Tower? "In my heart," she said again. "Will you sit yourself, Mother?" That was proper, in her own apartments. "May I pour you some mint tea? Or plum punch?"
Waving away the offer of refreshment, Elaida took the most comfortable chair, carved by Seaine‚Äôs father as a gift when she received the shawl, though of course the cushions had been replaced many times since. The Amyrlin made the country chair seem a throne, all stiff back and iron countenance. Most ungraciously, she did not give permission for Seaine to sit, too, so Seaine folded her hands and remained standing.
"I have thought long and hard on treason, Seaine, since my predecessor and her Keeper were allowed to escape. Helped to escape. Treason must have been at the core of that, and I fear only a sister, or sisters, could have effected it.
"That would certainly be a possibility, Mother."
Elaida frowned at the interruption. "We can never be sure who has the shadow of treason in her heart, Seaine. Why, I suspect that someone arranged for an order of mine to be countermanded. And I have reason to believe that someone has communicated privately with Rand al‚ÄôThor; to what end, I cannot say, but that surely is treason against me, and against the Tower.
Seaine waited for more, but the Amyrlin only looked back at her, slowly smoothing her red-slashed skirts. "Exactly what inquiry do you wish me to make, Mother?" she asked cautiously.
Elaida bounded to her feet. "I charge you to follow the stench of treason, no matter where it leads or how high, even to the Keeper herself. Yes, even to her.
What you find, whoever it leads to, you will bring before the Amyrlin Seat alone, Seaine. No one else must know. Do you understand me?"
"I understand your commands, Mother."
So, Elaida tells Seaine to search for signs of treason, and she lists three examples: 1) Siuan and Leane‚Äôs obviously aided escape, 2) an order of hers that was countermanded, and 3) the possibility that someone entered a treasonous correspondence with Rand. There are definitely hints that Seaine should specifically investigate Alviarin, which gives another reason why Elaida would seek out Seaine specifically (Seaine being a Sitter for Alviarin‚Äôs Ajah), but Seaine‚Äôs White Ajah logic failed to comprehend those signals. So, she understandably assumed that Elaida meant the Black Ajah, and did not say so outright because of the natural and common Aes Sedai aversion to admitting the Black Ajah‚Äôs existence. The assumption was understandable not only because of Elaida‚Äôs nervousness, but also because of the implications of ‚Äúdeath and disaster for the whole Tower.‚ÄĚ So, Seaine seeks out Pevara‚Äôs assistance, and the Hunt begins:
Seaine did not press her; she herself had committed something akin to treason by breaking that same seal, and Pevara would have to decide on her own. "Looking at reports will be safer than asking questions with no idea who we‚Äôre really asking. Logically, a Black sister must be able to lie despite the Oaths.
" Otherwise, the Black Ajah would have been revealed long since. That name seemed to be coming more easily with use. "If any sister wrote that she did one thing when we can prove she did another, then we have found a Darkfriend.
Pevara nodded. "Yes. Perhaps the Black Ajah has no hand in the rebellion, but I cannot think they would let this turmoil pass without taking advantage. We must look closely at this last year, I think."
To that, Seaine agreed reluctantly. There would be fewer pieces of paper to read and more questions to ask concerning recent months.
Deciding who else to make part of the inquiry was even harder. Especially after Pevara said, "You were very brave coming to me, Seaine. I‚Äôve known Darkfriends to kill brothers, sisters, parents, to try hiding who they are and what they‚Äôve done. I love you for it, but you were very brave indeed."
Seaine shivered as if a goose had walked on her grave. Had she wanted to be brave, she would have chosen Green. She almost wished Elaida had gone to someone else. There was no turning back now, though.
They are understandably not sure exactly how to begin, so they decide to look for written violations of the first Oath, which leads them to Zerah, which turned out to be a false alarm, concerning the Hunt for the Black Ajah. However, quite fortuitously, Zerah also leads to Talene. Could perhaps the Wheel be playing a part? It seems quite likely. What chance brought the other four Sitters, one of which was Black Ajah, down to the basements at that exact time?
TITLE - The Path of Daggers, CHAPTER: 26 - The Extra Bit
"I vow to obey the two of you absolutely," Zerah said in a tight voice, then shuddered as the oath took hold. It was always tighter at the first. "Ask me about the Black Ajah," she demanded. Her hands shook holding the Rod. "Ask me about the Black Ajah!" Her intensity told Seaine the answer even before Pevara released the flow of Spirit and asked the question, commanding utter truth. "No!" Zerah practically shouted. "No, I am not Black Ajah! Now take this oath from me! Free me!"
Seaine slumped dejectedly, resting her elbows on the table. She certainly had not wanted
Zerah to answer yes, but she had been sure they had found the other woman out in a lie. One lie found, or so it had seemed, after weeks of searching. How many more weeks of searching lay ahead? And of looking over her shoulder from waking to sleeping? When she managed to sleep.
Pevara stabbed an accusing finger at the woman. "You told people that you came from the north."
Zerah‚Äôs eyes went wide again. "I did," she said slowly. "I rode down the bank of the Erinin to Jualdhe. Now free me of this oath!" She licked her lips.
Seaine frowned at her. "Goldenthorn seeds and a red cockle-burr were found on your saddlecloth, Zerah. Goldenthorn and red cockleburr can‚Äôt be found for a hundred miles south
of Tar Valon."
Zerah leaped to her feet, and Pevara snapped, "Sit down!"
Right after that, Yukiri, Doesine, Saerin, and Talene enter, and Saerin deduces Seaine and Pevara‚Äôs purpose, and Talene is clearly shown to be Black. Now we have a Sitter from each Ajah represented, and a Black Sister revealed. Of course, that was Seaine‚Äôs and Pevara‚Äôs purpose in taking the Oath Rod to the lower levels of the Tower, but their own efforts produced not a Black, but a nest of ten ferrets that could be used as Hunters, while crazy luck netted them their first Black sister, and also three other Sitters to aid them in the Hunt. In the Prologue of Winter‚Äôs Heart, Talene is broken, and further Hunting strategy is discussed. Talene insists that Elaida is Black Ajah, but this defies Seaine‚Äôs White Ajah logic, as it was Elaida that gave the order in the first place. But the Black Ajah knows everything that happens in Elaida‚Äôs study, every order that Elaida gives, usually before it is made:
TITLE - Winter‚Äôs Heart, PROLOGUE - Snow
Pevara frowned. ‚ÄúBefore we give her to Elaida, Saerin, I want to dig out as much as we can. Names, places, anything. Everything she knows!‚ÄĚ Darkfriends had killed Pevara‚Äôs entire family, and Seaine was sure she would go into exile ready to hunt down every last Black sister personally.
Still huddled on the Chair, Talene made a sound, half bitter laugh, half weeping. ‚ÄúWhen you do that, we are all dead. Dead! Elaida is Black Ajah!‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs impossible!‚ÄĚ Seaine burst out. ‚ÄúElaida gave me the order herself.
‚ÄúShe must be,‚ÄĚ Doesine half whispered. ‚ÄúTalene‚Äôs sworn the oaths again; she just named her!‚ÄĚ Yukiri nodded vehemently.
‚ÄúUse your heads,‚ÄĚ Pevara growled, shaking her own in disgust. ‚ÄúYou know as well as I do if you believe a lie, you can say it for truth.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAnd that is
truth,‚ÄĚ Saerin said firmly. ‚ÄúWhat proof do you have, Talene? Have you seen Elaida at your‚Ä¶.meetings?
‚ÄĚ She gripped her knife hilt so hard that her knuckles paled. Saerin had had to fight harder than most for the shawl, for the right to remain in the Tower at all. To her, the Tower was more than home, more important than her own life. If Talene gave the wrong answer, Elaida might not live to face trial.
‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt have meetings,‚ÄĚ Talene muttered sullenly. ‚ÄúExcept the Supreme Council, I suppose. But she must be. They know every report she receives, even the secret ones, every word spoken to her. They know every decision she makes before it‚Äôs announced. Days before; sometimes weeks. How else, unless she tells them?
‚ÄĚ Sitting up with an effort, she tried to fix them each in turn with an intent stare. It only made her eyes seem to dart anxiously. ‚ÄúWe have to run, we have to find a place to hide. I‚Äôll help you -- tell you everything I know! -- but they‚Äôll kill us unless we run.‚ÄĚ
Strange, Seaine thought, how quickly Talene had made her former cronies ‚Äúthey‚ÄĚ and tried to identify herself with the rest of them. No. She was avoiding the real problem, and avoidance was witless. Had Elaida really set her to dig out the Black Ajah? She had never once actually mentioned the name. Could she have meant something else?
Elaida had always jumped down the throat of anyone who even mentioned the Black. Nearly any sister would do the same yet‚Ä¶.
‚ÄúElaida‚Äôs proven herself a fool,‚ÄĚ Saerin said, ‚Äúand more than once I‚Äôve regretted standing for her, but I‚Äôll not believe she‚Äôs Black, not without more than that.‚ÄĚ Tight-lipped, Pevara jerked an agreeing nod. As a Red, she would want much more.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs as may be, Saerin,‚ÄĚ Yukiri said, ‚Äúbut we cannot hold Talene long before the Greens start asking where she is. Not to mention the ‚Ä¶the Black. We‚Äôd better decide what to do fast, or we‚Äôll still be digging at the bottom of the well when the rains hit.‚ÄĚ Talene gave Saerin a feeble smile that was probably meant to be ingratiating. It faded under the Brown Sitter‚Äôs frown.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt dare tell Elaida anything until we can cripple the Black at one blow
,‚ÄĚ Saerin said finally. ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt argue, Pevara; it‚Äôs sense.‚ÄĚ Pevara threw up her hands and put on a stubborn expression, but she closed her mouth. ‚ÄúIf Talene is right,‚ÄĚ Saerin went on, ‚Äúthe Black knows about Seaine or soon will, so we must ensure her safety, as much as we can. That won‚Äôt be easy, with only five of us. We can‚Äôt trust anyone
until we are certain of them! At least we have Talene, and who knows what we‚Äôll learn before she‚Äôs wrung out?‚ÄĚ Talene attempted to look willing to be wrung out, but no one was paying her any mind. Seaine‚Äôs throat had gone dry.
‚ÄúWe might not be entirely alone,‚ÄĚ Pevara said reluctantly. ‚ÄúSeaine, tell them your little scheme with Zerah and her friends.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúScheme?‚ÄĚ Saerin said. ‚ÄúWho‚Äôs Zerah? Seaine? Seaine!‚ÄĚ
Seaine gave a start. ‚ÄúWhat? Oh. Pevara and I uncovered a small nest of rebels here in the Tower,‚ÄĚ she began breathily. ‚ÄúTen sisters sent to spread dissent.‚ÄĚ Saerin was going to make sure she was safe, was she? Without so much as asking. She was a Sitter herself; she had been Aes Sedai for almost a hundred and fifty years. What right had Saerin or anyone to ‚Ä¶.? ‚ÄúPevara and I have begun putting an end to that. We‚Äôve already made one of them, Zerah Dacan, take the same extra oath Talene did, and told her to bring Bernaile Gelbarn to my rooms this afternoon without rousing her suspicions.‚ÄĚ Light, any sister outside this room might be Black. Any sister. ‚ÄúThen we will use those two to bring another, until they have all been made to swear obedience. Of course, we‚Äôll ask the same question we put to Zerah, the same we put to Talene.‚ÄĚ The Black Ajah might already have her name, already know she had been set hunting them. How could Saerin keep her safe? ‚ÄúThose who give the wrong answer can be questioned, and those who give the right can repay for a little of their treachery by hunting the Black under our direction.‚ÄĚ Light, how?
When she was done, the others discussed the matter at some length, which could only mean that Saerin was unsure what decision she would make. Yukiri insisted on giving Zerah and her confederates over to the law immediately -- if it could be done without exposing their own situation with Talene. Pevara argued for using the rebels, though halfheartedly; the dissent they had been spreading centered around vile tales concerning the Red Ajah and false Dragons. Doesine seemed to be suggesting that they kidnap every sister in the Tower and force them all to take the added oath, but the other three paid little attention to her.
So. Seaine‚Äôs fear that Elaida might very well be
Black is obviously scrambling her brain. She is the only one present that actually knows what Elaida commanded -- all the others in the room think that Elaida commanded her to hunt the Black Ajah specifically, though Pevara knows she was circumspect. But Seaine knows that Elaida specifically mentioned the Keeper. Alviarin. For the others, suspicion of Elaida is enough to balance suspicion of Alviarin, as we learn in the continuation of the plot. We also get another mention of the fact that they dare not try to bring the Black Sisters to trial until they have what they need to completely
eradicate the Black. In other words, until they have what they need to bring about The Great Purge. But what they have learned from Talene about Black Ajah security makes their task seem impossible. Also, they cannot even apprehend sisters that they know
are Black, because they do not have the official authority to do so‚Ä¶because they dare not go public until they have the means to take out the Black in one blow, because they fear that Elaida is Black:
TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight, PROLOGUE - Glimmers of the Pattern
She shivered, and it had nothing to do with drafts in the corridor. She and every other woman who might reveal the truth would die before that storm ended, by so-called accident or in bed. Or she might just vanish, apparently gone out of the Tower never to be seen again. She had no doubt of that. Any evidence would be buried so deep, an army with shovels could never dig it up. Even rumors would be plastered over. It had happened before. The world and most sisters still believed Tamra Ospenya had died in her bed. She had believed it. They had to have the Black Ajah wrapped up and tied, as near as possible, before they dared risk going public.
The dark stocky Warder following just far enough behind to give them privacy must have belonged to Pritalle Nerbaijan, a green-eyed woman who had largely escaped the Saldaean nose, because Atuan Larisett had no Warder. Yukiri knew little about Pritalle, but she would learn more after seeing her in close conversation with Atuan. In high-necked gray slashed with yellow and a silk-fringed shawl, the Taraboner was striking. Her dark hair, in thin, brightly beaded braids that hung to her waist, framed a face that somehow seemed perfect as it was without being beautiful. She was even fairly modest, at least as Yellows went. But she was the woman Meidani and the others were trying to study without being caught out. The woman whose name they were afraid to speak aloud except behind strong wards. Atuan Larisett was one of only three Black sisters Talene knew. That was how they organized themselves, three women who knew each other, three women who formed one heart, with each woman knowing one more the other two did not. Atuan had been Talene‚Äôs ‚Äúone more,‚ÄĚ so there was some hope she could be followed to two others.
When they first learned Talene was a Darkfriend, Talene had been a shielded prisoner. And she still scared us spitless
, she admitted to herself. Well, what they did to make her confess had scared them spitless first, but learning the truth turned their tongues to dust. Now Talene was tethered tighter than Meidani, closely guarded even if she did appear to walk free ‚Äď how to keep a Sitter prisoner without anyone noticing had been beyond even Saerin ‚Äď and she was pathetically eager to offer up every scrap she knew or even suspected in hope it might save her life, not that she had any choice. Hardly an object of fear. As for the rest‚Ä¶
Pevara had tried to maintain that Talene must be wrong about Galina Casban, and went into a rage that lasted a full day when she finally was convinced that her Red sister was really Black. She still spoke of strangling Galina with her own hands. Yukiri herself had felt a cold detachment when Temaile Kinderode was named. If there were Darkfriends in the Tower, it stood to reason some had to be Grays, though perhaps disliking Temaile helped. She remained cool even after she did the sums and realized that Temaile had left the Tower at the same time that three sisters were murdered. That provided more names for suspicion, other sisters who had gone then, too, but Galina and Temaile and the rest were out of the Tower, beyond reach for the moment, and only the two could be proven Darkfriends.Atuan was right there, Black Ajah without doubt, walking the Tower as she wished, unrestrained and unbound of the Three Oaths. And until Doesine could arrange for her to be questioned in secret ‚Äď a difficult matter, even for a Sitter of Atuan‚Äôs Ajah, since it had to be secret from everyone ‚Äď until then, all they could do was watch. A distant, carefully circumspect watching. It was like living with a red adder, never knowing when you would find yourself eye to eye with it, never knowing when it might bite. Like living in a den of red adders, and only being able to see one.
Suddenly, Yukiri realized that the wide, curving corridor was empty ahead as far as she could see, and a glance back showed only Leonin behind. The Tower might have been empty save for the three of them. Nothing in sight moved except the flickering flames on the stand lamps. Silence.
Meidani gave a small start. ‚ÄúForgive me, Sitter. Seeing her so suddenly took me aback. Where was I? Oh, yes. I understand that Celestin and Annharid are trying to find out her close friends in the Yellow.
‚ÄĚ Celestin and Annharid were Meidani‚Äôs fellow conspirators, both Yellows. There were two from each Ajah ‚Äď except the Red and the Blue, of course ‚Äď which had proven very useful. ‚ÄúI fear that won‚Äôt be much help. She has a wide circle of friends, or did before the‚Ä¶ current situation rose between the Ajahs.
‚ÄĚ A touch of satisfaction tinged her voice, however smooth her face; she was still a rebel, in spite of the added oath. ‚ÄúInvestigating all of them will be difficult, if not impossible.
‚ÄúForget her for the moment.‚ÄĚ It took an effort for Yukiri not to crane her neck trying to look every way at once. A tapestry worked with large white flowers rippled slightly, and she hesitated until she was sure it was a draft and not another servant coming out of a servants‚Äô ramp. She never could recollect where they were located. Her new topic was as dangerous as discussing Atuan, in its own way. ‚ÄúLast night, I remembered you were a novice with Elaida, and close friends as I recall. It would be a good idea for you to renew that friendship.
‚ÄúThat was some years ago,‚ÄĚ the taller woman replied stiffly, lifting her shawl to her shoulders and wrapping it around herself as though she suddenly felt the cold. ‚ÄúElaida very properly broke it off when she was raised Accepted. She might have been accused of favoritism if I were in a class she was given to teach.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs well for you that you weren‚Äôt a favorite,‚ÄĚ Yukiri said dryly. Elaida‚Äôs current ferocity had its precedent. Before she went off to Andor years ago, she had pushed those she favored so hard that sisters had needed to step in more than once. Siuan Sanche had been one of them, strange to remember, though Siuan had never needed rescuing from standards she could not meet. Strange and sad. ‚ÄúEven so, you will
do everything in your power to renew that friendship.‚ÄĚ
Meidani walked two dozen paces along the corridor opening and closing her mouth, adjusting and readjusting her shawl, twitching her shoulders as though trying to shrug off a horsefly, looking everywhere but at Yukiri. How had the woman ever functioned as a Gray, with so little self-control? ‚ÄúI did try
,‚ÄĚ she said finally, in a breathy tone. She still avoided Yukiri‚Äôs eye. ‚ÄúSeveral times. The Keeper‚Ä¶ Alviarin always put me off. The Amyrlin was busy, she had appointments, she needed rest. There was always some excuse. I think Elaida just doesn‚Äôt want to take up a friendship she dropped more than thirty years ago.
So the rebels had remembered that friendship, too. How had they thought to use it? Spying, most likely. She would have to find out how Meidani was supposed to pass on what she learned. In any case, the rebels had provided the tool, and Yukiri would use it. ‚ÄúAlviarin is out of your way. She left the Tower yesterday, or maybe the day before.
No one is quite certain. But the maids say she took spare clothes, so it‚Äôs unlikely she‚Äôll return for a few days at the soonest.‚ÄĚ‚ÄúWhere could she have gone in this weather?‚ÄĚ Meidani frowned. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been snowing since yesterday morning, and it was threatening before.‚ÄĚ
Yukiri stopped and used both hands to turn the other woman to face her. ‚ÄúThe only thing that need concern you, Meidani, is that she‚Äôs gone,‚ÄĚ she said firmly. Where had Alviarin gone in this? ‚ÄúYou have a clear path to Elaida, and you will take it. And you will keep a close watch to see if anyone might be reading Elaida‚Äôs papers. Just be sure no one sees you watching.‚ÄĚ Talene said the Black Ajah knew everything that came out of the Amyrlin‚Äôs study before it was announced, and they needed someone close to Elaida if they were to find out how it was done. Of course, Alviarin saw everything before Elaida signed, and the woman had taken on more authority than any Keeper in memory, but that was no reason to accuse her of being a Darkfriend. No reason not to, either. Her past was being investigated, too. ‚ÄúWatch Alviarin, as well, as much as you can, but Elaida‚Äôs papers are the important thing.‚ÄĚ
Meidani sighed and gave a reluctant nod. She might have to obey, but she knew the added danger she would be in if Alviarin did turn out a Darkfriend. Yet Elaida herself still might be Black, whatever Saerin and Pevara insisted. A Darkfriend as Amyrlin Seat. Now that was a thought to pickle your heart.
So, Alviarin is being watched as well, but Elaida is still suspect, hence Yukiri‚Äôs orders to Meidani. However, despite all of their efforts, they are getting nowhere fast. They need a way to cripple the Black at one blow, and the task seems insurmountable. But just as the Hunters are approaching that insurmountable wall, RJ provides us with the tantalizing key to the puzzle‚Ä¶who also happens to be the object of Elaida‚Äôs original commands to Seaine:
TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight, CHAPTER: 21 - A Mark
Mesaana was the real source of her annoyance. The Chosen taught what she wished and nothing more, hinted at wonders then withheld them. And Mesaana used her like an errand girl. She sat at the head of the Supreme Council and knew the names of every Black sister in every heart, which was more than Mesaana could say.
The woman showed little interest in who would carry out her orders, so long as they were carried out, and to the absolute letter. All too often, she wanted them carried out by Alviarin herself, forcing her to deal with women and men who thought themselves her equals just because they also served the Great Lord. Too many of the Friends thought themselves equal to Aes Sedai, or even superior. Worse, Mesaana forbade her to make an object lesson of even one. Repellent little rodents, none able to channel, and Alviarin had to be polite just because some of them might be serving another of the Chosen! It was obvious that Mesaana did not know for sure. She was one of the Chosen, and she made Alviarin smile at the dust of the street for her uncertainty.
And there we have it! A way to cripple the Black Ajah with one blow! But the Hunters, who feel powerless without the Amyrlin‚Äôs authority, who are afraid to seek that authority for fear that Elaida is Black herself, are utterly clueless as to this prize that is virtually under their noses. And Alviarin is getting her own clues as to what they
are up to:
All three Green Sitters were there, indicating very strong sup¬¨port among their Ajah, or heavy pressure from the head of the Green. As senior, Talene should have answered Elaida ‚Äď Greens stuck to their hierarchies in everything ‚Äď but the tall, golden-haired woman glanced at Yukiri for some reason, then just as oddly, at Doesine, and put her eyes on the carpet and stood plucking at her green silk skirts.
Rina frowned faintly, wrinkling her upturned nose in puzzlement, but she had worn the shawl for fewer than fifty years, so it was left to Rubinde to reply. A sturdy woman, Rubinde appeared short and stocky alongside Talene, and almost plain despite eyes the color of sapphires.
‚ÄúI am instructed to make the same points as Shevan,‚ÄĚ she said, ignoring the startled look that Rina gave her. Plainly there had been pressure from Adelorna, the Green ‚ÄėCaptain-General,‚Äô and plainly Rubinde disagreed if she was willing to make it public. ‚ÄúTarmon Gai‚Äôdon is coming, the Black Tower is almost as great a threat, and the Dragon Reborn is missing, if he isn‚Äôt dead. We can no longer afford to be divided. If Andaya can talk the rebels back into the Tower, then we must let her try.‚ÄĚ
So, Alviarin notices Talene deferring to two Sitters not of her own Ajah, which is most strange‚Ä¶and it was most imprudent of the Hunters to neglect to order Talene not to make such things noticeable in public. But anyhow, the slip was made, and Alviarin noticed. Alviarin was stripped of her position, and while she was reporting to Mesaana, Shaidar Haran interferes, and charges Alviarin with the task of uncovering the threat to the Black:
‚ÄúYou are marked as mine,‚ÄĚ the Great Lord rasped. ‚ÄúMesaana will not harm you, now. Unless I give her permission. You will find who threatens my creatures here and deliver them to me.
‚ÄĚ He turned away from her, and the dark armor fell from his body. She was startled when it hit the carpeted floor tiles with a crash of steel rather than simply vanishing. He was clothed in black, and she could not have said whether it was silk or leather or something else. The darkness of it seemed to drink the light from the room. Mesaana began to thrash in her bonds, keening shrilly past the gag in her mouth. ‚ÄúGo now,‚ÄĚ he said, ‚Äúif you wish to live another hour.‚ÄĚ The sound coming from Mesaana rose to a despairing scream.
Alviarin did not know how she got out of her rooms ‚Äď she could not understand how she was upright when her legs felt like water ‚Äď but she found herself running through the corridors, skirts pulled to her knees and running as hard as she could. Suddenly the head of a wide staircase loomed in front of her, and she barely managed to stop from running right out into the air. Sagging against the wall, shaking, she stared down the curving flight of white marble steps. In her mind, she could see her body breaking as it crashed down the stairway.
Breathing raggedly, in hoarse, raw-throated pants, she put a trembling hand to her forehead. Her thoughts tumbled one over another, as she would have down the stairs. The Great Lord had marked her as his. Her fingers slid across smooth unblemished skin. She had always prized knowledge ‚Äď power grew from knowledge ‚Äď but she did not want to know what was happening in the rooms she had left. She wished she did not know that anything was happening. The Great Lord had marked her, but Mesaana would find a way to kill her, for knowing that. The Great Lord had marked her and given her a command. She could live, if she found who was hunting the Black Ajah.
Straightening her back with an effort, she hurriedly scrubbed at the tears on her cheeks with the heels of her palms. She could not pull her eyes away from the stairs falling away in front of her. Elaida surely suspected her, but if there was no more to it than that, she could always manufacture a hunt. It just had to include Elaida herself as a threat to be extinguished. Delivered to the Great Lord.
Her fingers fluttered to her forehead again. She had the Black Ajah at her command. Smooth, unblemished skin. Talene had been there, in Elaida‚Äôs rooms. Why had she looked at Yukiri and Doesine that way? Talene was Black, though she did not know that Alviarin was, of course.
Would any mark show in a mirror? Was there something that others could see? If she had to manufacture a scheme for Elaida‚Äôs supposed hunters, Talene might be a place to start. She tried to trace the route any message would have taken from heart to heart before it reached Talene
, but she could not stop staring down the stairs, seeing her body bounce and break its way to the bottom. The Great Lord had marked her.
Alviarin has not only been given a task, but she has been given a momentous level of desperation, first from her deposition by Elaida, with the fear that Elaida knew she was Black Ajah, to the mark she received from Shaidar Haran, and the order that he gave. So, the Hunters are suspicious of Alviarin, and Alviarin is suspicious of the Hunters. If the Hunters net Alviarin, they can cripple the Black at one blow; if Alviarin nets the Hunters‚Ä¶she gets to live. Who will be successful?
The next point of view for the Hunters is quite bleak. They have reached a dead end, reduced to looking for inconsistencies once again - and
, their one reason for believing Elaida was not Black in the first place is turned on its head when Seaine is summoned:
TITLE - Knife of Dreams, PROLOGUE - Embers Falling on Dry Grass
‚ÄúI know as much about tapestries as a pig knows about blacksmithing, Pevara.‚ÄĚ For all her elegance, Yukiri seldom let long pass without revealing her country origins. The silvery gray fringe of her shawl swung as she gathered it around her. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre late, so let‚Äôs be brief. I feel like a hen being watched by a fox. Marris broke this morning, and I gave her the oath of obedience myself, but as with the others, her ‚Äėone other‚Äô is out of the Tower. With the rebels, I think.
‚ÄĚ She fell silent as a pair of serving women approached up the hallway carrying a large wicker laundry basket with neatly folded bed linens bulging from the top.
Pevara sighed. It had seemed so encouraging, at the start. Terrifying and nearly overwhelming, too, yet they had appeared to be making a good beginning. Talene had only known the name of one other Black sister actually in the Tower at present, but once Atuan had been kidnapped -- Pevara would have liked to think of it as an arrest, yet she could not when they seemed to be violating half of Tower Law and a good many strong customs besides -- once Atuan was safely in hand, she had soon been induced to surrender the names of her heart: Karale Sanghir, a Domani Gray, and Marris Thornhill, an Andoran Brown. Only Karale among them had a Warder, though he had turned out to be a Darkfriend, too.
Luckily, soon after learning that his Aes Sedai had betrayed him, he had managed to take poison in the basement room where he had been confined while Karale was questioned. Strange to think of that as lucky, but the Oath Rod only worked on those who could channel, and they were too few to guard and tend prisoners.It had been such a bright beginning, however fraught, and now they were at an impasse unless one of the others returned to the Tower, back to searching for discrepancies between what sisters claimed to have done and what it could be proven they actually had, something made harder by the inclination of most sisters to be oblique in nearly everything.
Of course, Talene and the other three would pass along whatever they knew, whatever came into their hands -- the oath of obedience took care of that-but any message very much more important than ‚Äútake this and put it in that place‚ÄĚ would be in a cipher known only to the woman who sent it and the woman it was directed to. Some were protected by a weave that made the ink vanish if the wrong hand broke the seal; that could be done with so little of the Power it might go unnoticed unless you were looking for it, and there appeared to be no way to circumvent the ward.If they were not at an impasse, then their flow of success was reduced to a creeping trickle. And always there was the danger that the hunted would learn of them and become the hunters. Invisible hunters, for all practical purposes, just as they now seemed invisible prey.
Still, they had four names plus four sisters in hand who would admit they were Darkfriends, though likely Marris would be as quick as the other three to claim she now rejected the Shadow, repented of her sins, and embraced the Light once more. Enough to convince anyone. Supposedly, the Black Ajah knew everything that passed in Elaida‚Äôs study, yet it might be worth the risk. Pevara refused to believe Talene‚Äôs claim that Elaida was a Darkfriend. After all, she had initiated the hunt. The Amyrlin Seat could rouse the entire Tower.
Perhaps a revelation that the Black Ajah truly existed might do what the appearance of the rebels with an army had failed to, stop the Ajahs from hissing at one another like strange cats and bind them back together. The Tower‚Äôs wounds called for desperate remedies.
The White Sitter‚Äôs composure faded into worry, tightening her mouth and creasing the corners of her eyes. Her hands tightened into fists gripping her shawl. ‚ÄúFor us, it is. I‚Äôve just come from answering a summons to Elaida. She wanted to know how I was getting on.‚ÄĚ Seaine took a deep breath. ‚ÄúWith discovering proof that Alviarin entered a treasonous correspondence with the Dragon Reborn. Really, she was so circumspect in the beginning, so indirect, it‚Äôs no wonder I misunderstood what she wanted.
‚ÄúI think that fox is walking on my grave,‚ÄĚ Yukiri murmured.
Pevara nodded. The notion of approaching Elaida had vanished like summer dew. Their one assurance that Elaida was not herself Black Ajah had been that she instigated the hunt for them, but since she had done no such thing‚Ä¶
At least the Black Ajah remained in ignorance of them. At least they had that, still. But for how much longer?
‚ÄúOn mine, too,‚ÄĚ she said softly.
So‚Ä¶their one bit of certainty that Elaida is not Black has evaporated. And in the next point of view, the race is on as Alviarin struggles to uncover the Hunters:
Still standing, she deciphered the other two messages and learned that Yukiri and Doesine both slept in rooms warded against intrusion.
That was unsurprising-hardly a sister in the Tower slept without warding these days-but it meant kidnapping either would be difficult. That was always easiest when carried out in the depths of the night by sisters of the woman‚Äôs own Ajah. It might yet turn out those glances were happenstance, or imagination. She needed to consider the possibility.
With a sigh, she gathered more of the small books from the chest and gently eased herself onto the goose-down cushion on the chair at the writing table. Not gently enough to stop a wince as her weight settled, though. She barely stifled a whimper. At first, she had thought the humiliation of Silviana‚Äôs strap far worse than the pain, but the pain no longer really faded. Her bottom was a mass of bruises. And tomorrow, the Mistress of Novices would add to them. And the day after that, and the day after‚Ä¶ A bleak vision of endless days howling under Silviana‚Äôs strap, of fighting to meet the eyes of sisters who knew all about the visits to Silviana‚Äôs study.
Trying to chase those thoughts away, she dipped a good steel-nibbed pen and began to write out ciphered orders on thin sheets of paper. Talene must be found and brought back, of course. For punishment and execution, if she had simply panicked, and if she had not, if she had somehow found a way to betray her oaths‚Ä¶ Alviarin clung to that hope while she commanded a close watch put on Yukiri and Doesine. A way had to be found to take them. And if they were caught up in chance and imagination, something could still be manufactured from whatever they said. She would guide the flows in the circle. Something could be made.
She wrote furiously, unaware that her free hand had risen to her forehead, searching for the mark.
At this point, it seems the Hunters are screwed. Alviarin is perhaps more desperate than they are, and she is probably more willing to take certain risks in order to accomplish her ends. But the Hunters have something that they do not realize they have. Elaida‚Äôs orders, given in A Crown of Swords and reiterated, clarified, in Knife of Dreams. A treasonous correspondence between Alviarin and The Dragon Reborn.The Treasonous Correspondence
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven, CHAPTER: 51 - News Comes to CairhienWith respect, I humbly beg to make myself known to the great Lord Dragon Reborn, whom the Light blesses as savior of the world.
All the world must stand in awe of you, who has conquered Cairhien in one day as you did Tear. Yet be wary, I beseech you, for your splendor will inspire jealousy even in those not toiled in the Shadow. Even here in the White Tower are the blind who cannot see your true radiance, which will illumine us all. Yet know that some rejoice in your coming, and will delight to serve your glory. We are not those who would steal your luster for ourselves, but rather those who would kneel to bask in your brilliance. You shall save the world, according to the Prophecies, and the world shall be yours.
To my shame, I must beg you to let no one see these words, and to destroy them when once read. I stand, naked of your protection, among some who would usurp your power, and I cannot know who around you is as faithful as I. I am told that Moiraine Damodred may be with you. She may serve you devotedly, obeying your words as law, as I will, yet I cannot know, for I remember her as a secretive woman, much given to plotting, as Cairhienin are. Yet even if you believe she is your creature, as I do, I beg you to keep this missive secret, even from her. My life lies beneath your fingers, my Lord Dragon Reborn, and I am your servant.
He read it through again, blinking, then handed it to Moiraine. She barely scanned the page before giving it to Egwene, who had her head over the other letter with Aviendha. Perhaps Moiraine already knew what they contained?
"A good thing you gave your oath," he said. "The way you used to be, keeping everything back, I might have been ready to suspect you by now. A good thing you're more open now." She did not react. "What do you make of it?""She must have heard about your swelled head," Egwene said softly. He did not think he had been meant to hear. Shaking her head, she said more loudly, "This doesn't sound like Alviarin at all."
"It is her hand," Moiraine said. "What do you
make of it, Rand?"
"I think there's a rift in the Tower, whether Elaida knows it or not. I assume an Aes Sedai can't write a lie more easily than she can speak one?" He did not wait for her nod. "If Alviarin had been less flowery, I might have thought they were working together to pull me in. I can't see Elaida even thinking half of what Alviarin wrote, and I can't see her having a Keeper who could write it, not if she knew."
This is one of the things that Elaida hinted at when she first recruited Seaine‚Äôs assistance, and it is apparently the only
point she reiterated when she met with Seaine the second time. Of course, the Hunters have no clue at this point that the treasonous correspondence could be beneficial to their cause. All they can think about is that they can no longer be assured that Elaida is not Black, so therefore Elaida‚Äôs agenda is unimportant, relatively.
They are not only disillusioned with their cause, they are disillusioned with their Amyrlin, if they were not already. I find it particularly important that we get the revelation about Elaida in Pevara‚Äôs point of view, because Pevara, being a Red, was the most susceptible to trying to find some reason to believe in Elaida‚Äôs innocence. We see even her Red Ajah loyalty whittled away to almost nothing. In the same point of view, we hear of Sitters that stood for Elaida ready to depose her for the debacles of Dumai‚Äôs Wells and the Black Tower. So, we have two distinct problems: a dead standstill in the Hunt for the Black Ajah, and a grossly incompetent Amyrlin that is possibly Black Ajah. Alviarin is the key to crippling the Black at one blow, but how will the Hunters realize this?
TITLE - Knife of Dreams, CHAPTER: 24 - Honey in the Tea
Egwene caught another oak leaf on the broom and brushed it off into the wooden pail of damp leaves at her feet. ‚ÄúYour loyalty to Elaida isn‚Äôt very strong, is it?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWhy do you say that?‚ÄĚ Alviarin said suspiciously. Glancing at the two Reds, who appeared to be paying more mind now to the fish than Egwene, she stepped closer, inviting lowered voices.
Egwene fished at a long strand of grass that had to have come all the way from the plains beyond the river. Should she mention the letter this woman had written to Rand practically promising him the White Tower at his feet? No, that piece of information might prove valuable, but it seemed the sort of thing that could only be used once.
‚ÄúShe stripped you of the Keeper‚Äôs stole and ordered your penance. That‚Äôs hardly an inducement to loyalty.‚ÄĚ
Alviarin‚Äôs face remained smooth, yet her shoulders relaxed visibly. Aes Sedai seldom showed so much. She must feel under phenomenal strain to be so little in control of herself. She darted a look at the Reds again. ‚ÄúThink on your situation,‚ÄĚ she said in near a whisper. ‚ÄúIf you want an escape from it, well, you may be able to find one.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI am content with my situation,‚ÄĚ Egwene said simply.
Alviarin‚Äôs eyebrows quirked upward in disbelief, but with another glance at the Reds -- one was watching them now rather than the fish -- she glided away, a very fast glide on the verge of breaking into a trot.
Every two or three days she would appear while Egwene was doing chores, and while she never openly offered help with an escape, she used that word frequently, and she began to show frustration when Egwene refused to rise to her bait. Bait it was, to be sure. Egwene did not trust the woman. Perhaps it was that letter, surely designed to draw Rand to the Tower and into Elaida‚Äôs clutches, or maybe it was the way she kept waiting for Egwene to make the first move, to beg possibly.
Likely Alviarin would try to set conditions, then. In any case, she had no intention of escaping unless there was no other choice, so she always gave the same response.
‚ÄúI am content with my situation.‚ÄĚ
Alviarin began grinding her teeth audibly when she heard that. Conclusion
So, how will the Egwene and the Hunters come together? Elaida‚Äôs original order to Seaine are helpful: "What you find, whoever it leads to, you will bring before the Amyrlin Seat alone, Seaine. No one else must know." Elaida will not be Amyrlin for long. Callandor‚Äôs theory on The Sitters Mystery
shows that the Tower Ajah Heads have long been concerned with reuniting the Tower peacefully. Elaida‚Äôs conditions are most onerous, and Egwene‚Äôs conditions only require Elaida‚Äôs removal. The feelings in the Tower are becoming more and more disgruntled with Elaida‚Äôs incompetence, and the negotiations at the bridges, which are being carried out by the five planted sisters on the rebel side, and no doubt influenced by the Ajah Heads on the Tower side, will no doubt go in Egwene‚Äôs favor quite soon. Ferane, the Head of the White, and Suana, the Head of the Yellow, were among the first to notify Elaida that negotiations would be entered:
TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight, CHAPTER: 21 - A Mark
Elaida studied her for a moment, then gave a satisfied nod. The woman‚Äôs eyes still shone with emotion, though. Lifting the lid of one of the three lacquered boxes on her table, she took out a small, age-darkened ivory carving of a turtle and stroked it between her fingers. Fondling the carvings in that box was a habit she had when she wanted to soothe her nerves. ‚ÄúNow,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúYou were explaining to me why I should enter negotiations.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĚWe were not asking permission, Mother,‚ÄĚ Suana said sharply
, thrusting her chin out. She had too much chin, a square stone of it, and the arrogance to thrust it at anyone. ‚ÄúA decision of this sort belongs to the Hall. There is strong feeling in favor of it in the Yellow Ajah.‚ÄĚ Which meant she had strong feelings. She was the head of the Yellow Ajah
, the First Weaver, something Alviarin knew because the Black Ajah knew all the Ajah secrets, or nearly all, and in Suana‚Äôs view, her opinions were
her Ajah‚Äôs opinions.
Doesine, the other Yellow present, eyed Suana sideways, but said nothing. Pale and boyishly slim, Doesine looked as if she did not really want to be there, a pretty, sulky boy who had been dragged somewhere by his ear. Sitters often balked at arm-twisting from their Ajah‚Äôs head, yet it was not beyond possibility that Suana had found some way.‚ÄúMany Whites also support talks,‚ÄĚ Ferane said
, frowning distractedly at an ink stain on one plump finger. ‚ÄúIt is the logical thing to do, under the present circumstances.‚ÄĚ She was First Reasoner, head of the White Ajah, but less likely than Suana to take her own views for those of the entire Ajah.
A little less likely. Ferane often seemed as vague as the worst of the Browns ‚Äď the long black hair that framed her round face needed a brush, and part of the fringe on her shawl appeared to have been dipped carelessly in her breakfast tea ‚Äď but she could catch the slightest crack in the logic of an argument. She might well have been there by herself because she simply did not believe she needed any assistance from the other White Sitters.
‚ÄúI see,‚ÄĚ Elaida said in a flat tone. But strangely, her color improved, and the hint of a smile even touched her mouth. ‚ÄúThen by all means, talk them back, if you can. But my edicts stand. The Blue Ajah no longer exists, and every sister who follows that child Egwene al‚ÄôVere must serve penance under my guidance before she can be readmitted to any
Ajah. I intend to weld
the White Tower into a weapon to use at Tarmon Gai‚Äôdon.‚ÄĚ
Ferane and Suana opened their mouths, protest painted on their faces, but Elaida cut them off with a raised hand. ‚ÄúI have spoken, daughters. Leave me now. And see to your‚Ä¶ talks.‚ÄĚ
Also, there are clearly some Sitters that are ready to pull Elaida down because of the disaster with Toviene‚Äôs party:
TITLE - Knife of Dreams
PROLOGUE - Embers Falling on Dry Grass
Yukiri took her time getting to her question. The floor tiles turned from green-and-blue to yellow-and-brown as they walked along one of the main corridors that spiraled gently through the Tower, down five floors without seeing anyone else, before she spoke. ‚ÄúHas the Red heard from anyone who went with Toveine?‚ÄĚ
Pevara almost tripped over her own slippers. She should have expected it, though. Toveine would not have been the only one to write from Cairhien. ‚ÄúFrom Toveine herself,‚ÄĚ she said, and told almost everything that had been in Toveine‚Äôs letter. Under the circumstances, there was nothing else she could do. She did hold back the accusations against Elaida, and also how long ago the letter had arrived. The one was still Ajah business, she hoped, while the other might require awkward explanations.
‚ÄúWe heard from Akoure Vayet.‚ÄĚ Yukiri walked a few paces in silence, then muttered, ‚ÄúBlood and bloody ashes!‚ÄĚ
Pevara‚Äôs eyebrows rose in shock. Yukiri was often earthy, but never vulgar before this. She noted that the other woman had not said when Akoure‚Äôs letter arrived, either. Had the Gray received other letters from Cairhien, from sisters who had sworn to the Dragon Reborn? She could not ask. They trusted one another with their lives in this hunt, and still, Ajah business was Ajah business. ‚ÄúWhat do you intend doing with the information?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe will keep silent for the good of the Tower. Only the Sitters and the head of our Ajah know. Evanellein is for pulling Elaida down because of this, but that can‚Äôt be allowed now. With the Tower to mend and the Seanchan and Asha‚Äôman to be dealt with, perhaps never.‚ÄĚ She did not sound happy over that.
Pevara stifled her irritation. She could not like Elaida, yet you did not have to like the Amyrlin Seat. Any number of very unlikeable women had worn the stole and done well for the Tower. But could sending fifty-one sisters into captivity be called doing well? Could Dumai‚Äôs Wells, with four sisters dead and more than twenty delivered into another sort of captivity, to a ta‚Äôveren?
No matter. Elaida was Red - had been Red - and far too long had passed since a Red gained the stole and staff. All the rash actions and ill-considered decisions seemed things of the past since the rebels appeared, and saving the Tower from the Black Ajah would redeem her failures.
Of course, this is just
before Seaine‚Äôs revelation, which caused even Pevara to suspect Elaida was Black Ajah herself. Egwene has had lessons with at least three of the Ajah Heads: Ferane, Serancha, and Adelorna. Surely all three are aware of the rebel‚Äôs conditions in the negotiations by now, and all three were very hard on Egwene. Could they have been testing her? Even if they were not, they have seen her spirit and her resolve, and her character. Adelorna was overtly complimentary, however:
TITLE - Knife of Dreams, CHAPTER: 24 - Honey in the Tea
And then there was Adelorna Bastine. The Saldaean Green somehow managed stateliness in spite of being slim and no taller than Egwene, and she had a regal, commanding air that might have been intimidating had Egwene let it. ‚ÄúI hear you make trouble.‚ÄĚ she said, picking up an ivory-backed hairbrush from a small inlaid table beside her chair. ‚ÄúIf you try to make trouble with me, you‚Äôll learn that I know how to use this.‚ÄĚ
Egwene did learn, without trying. Three times she went across Adelorna‚Äôs lap, and the woman did indeed know how to use a hairbrush for more than brushing her hair. That managed to stretch an hour lecture to two.
‚ÄúMay I go now?‚ÄĚ Egwene said at last, calmly drying her cheeks as well as she could with a handkerchief that was already damp. Breathe in the pain. Absorb the fire. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm supposed to fetch water up for the Red, and I don‚Äôt want to be late.‚ÄĚ
Adelorna frowned at her hairbrush before returning it to the table that Egwene had overset twice with her kicking. Then she frowned at Egwene, studying her as if trying to see inside her skull. ‚ÄúI wish Cadsuane were in the Tower,‚ÄĚ she murmured. ‚ÄúI think she‚Äôd find you a challenge.‚ÄĚ There seemed a touch of respect in her voice.
And last, but not least, Egwene gets a visit from one of the Hunters, Doesine:
On the morning of her ninth day back in the Tower, before first light, Doesine herself came to Egwene‚Äôs small room to give her her morning dose of Healing. Outside, rain was falling with a dull roar. The two Reds who had been watching over her sleep gave her her forkroot, frowning at Doesine, and hurried away. The Yellow Sitter snorted in contempt when the door closed behind them. She used the old method of Healing that made Egwene gasp as though doused in an icy pond and left her ravenously eager for breakfast. As well as free of the pain in her bottom. That actually felt peculiar; you could adapt to anything over time, and a bruised bottom already seemed normal. But the use of the old way, the way used every time she had been given Healing since being captured, reaffirmed that Beonin had kept some secrets, though how she had managed it was still a mystery. Beonin herself had only said that most sisters thought the tales of new weaves were merely rumors.‚ÄĚYou don‚Äôt mean to bloody surrender, do you, child?‚ÄĚ Doesine said
while Egwene was pulling her dress over her head. The woman‚Äôs language was very much at odds with her elegant appearance, in gold-embroidered blue with sapphires at her ears and in her hair.‚ÄúShould the Amyrlin Seat ever surrender?‚ÄĚ Egwene asked
as her head popped out at the top of her dress. She doubled her arms behind her to do up the buttons of white-dyed horn.Doesine snorted again, though not in contempt, Egwene thought. ‚ÄúA brave course, child. Still, my wager is that Silviana will bloody well have you sitting straight and walking right before much longer.‚ÄĚ But she left without calling Egwene down for naming herself the Amyrlin Seat.
Add these obvious shifts in the minds of the Sitters to the other shifts that we know about, such as the fact that Beonin was reined in, and Egwene‚Äôs success with Silviana and Mattin Stepaneos, and it is more than clear that the negotiations will go in Egwene‚Äôs favor quite soon. In fact, I will not be surprised if the Hall shows up to depose Elaida and raise Egwene while swear the Three Oaths, and it will be a matter of extreme simplicity at that point for the Hunters to approach her with their current findings, and for Egwene to supply what she knows of Elaida‚Äôs initial inquiry - the treasonous correspondence.
I don‚Äôt expect a great deal of opposition to this theory, not only because it is an obvious and convenient resolution to at least one long-running plotline, but also because Tamyrlin, who reviews the theories, and Callandor, who normally provides the dissent, are already members of the faction
. I do hope to recruit some more members, however, so feel free to join.