Sundara sat before the mirror, brushing her wealth of silken black hair. From her room, at the very top of the turret rising from her sister’s palace, she could see guests arriving from all directions. Most through gateways, but there were a few riding, a few on foot, even one or two in carriages. Lightsworn, Shadowsworn and neutrals were all included in the guest list: this would surely be the party to end all parties.
She had planned and directed it all herself, not wanting to spoil the surprise for any of her guests. It had been a frantic week, but definitely worth it. The great hall was spring-cleaned (a little use of the Power worked wonders) and the musicians she had finally chosen were reliably reported to be the best in the land. (Except for the Piper, of course. Perhaps he would grace the occasion with a solo.) A display of fireworks was planned for later that night. Outside, fairy lights sparkled from the branches to welcome her guests, and windchimes chimed softly in the breeze.
She stood up, smoothing down her dress, and smiled at her reflection. The gown she had finally decided on was not her customary white, but the colour of hammered copper, shifting as she moved from a soft rose-gold, to bronze, to the fiery hue of a sunset. It was backless, made of incredibly light silk that clung tantalizingly to her slender form, and without any ornamentation at all. It didn’t need it. Nor did she.
Sundara glanced out the window again, watching as the gateways opened. When she was sure that everyone was either downstairs already or making their way to the palace, she turned away from the window, adjusted her dress once more, took a deep breath, and descended as regally as any queen to the great hall.
She was greeted by applause, mingled with a few low whistles from the male guests at the party. With a smile, Sundara pirouetted to show off her dress, then, as the whistles grew louder, held up her hands for silence.
“Welcome, all of you, and thank you for coming. The reason for this party, as some of you may know already, is my seventeenth Naming day. Feel free to eat all the cake and ice cream you can: reality at Shayol Ghul is malleable, so there’ll always be more. I’m sure some of you have heard stories about Domani-hosted parties -” there were a few blushes from the guests, “well,” Sundara grinned, “they’re all true!”
There was laughter, and more applause. “So what are you waiting for? Get out on that dance floor, and let’s party!” She signaled to the musicians, and the sound of harps and flutes filled the great hall as couples began to dance.
The cries of the fallen fell relentlessly on the ears of Aemon as he surveyed the battle raging around him. He had marched his army half way across the world to here, the edge of his realm, to stand once more in defiance of the shadow at the bank of the river which had given life to Manetheren.
Ravens blackened the sky and darted down on the Mantheren army, tearing
at flesh and eyes. I called out to form ranks to withstand the charge which
I knew was coming. With well taught discipline the command was passed down
the line, and parts of the rank fell back into the V-shaped entrapment
formations. The Band of the Red Hand stood firm around me as we watched
as a seething river of trollocs rushed into the river, and rejoiced as
we saw them drown each other in the crossing. Deep down though, I know
that the river might not be enough to keep this host form our soil. Oh,
well, Sundara would understand, as much as I would like to attend here
party, these dreadlords would not even allow me to send my RSVP. How could
I show up unannounced, even if I shoulod win the day? And why did she even
bother to invite me anyways, I mean I will be dead by about 1000 years
when the time for that party rolls around anyhow. And just where did she
expect me to send that RSVP anyways, I mean the return adress country doesn't
even exist yet... I looked up from my thoughts, and the battle still raged
on, win here or die...
And as the trollocs finally began fording the river, the last king of manetheren screamed his last earthly word as he began his charge to throw them back.
Garbed in a crimson tuxedo, with matching top hat, wielding an ornate onyx cane, Darkhound made quite an entrance when he strode into the hall. For those who had never seen him before in human shape, he hoped to make a lasting impression.
A servant glided past nearby, with a tray of drinks, so Darkhound helped himself to the tray. Looking up onto the balcony, he smiled as he saw Sundara dominated the room with her presence. That dress certainly helped too.
For a moment he toyed with slowly turning in a circle, until someone asked him what he was doing, so he could deliver his "I'm circulating!" punchline, but it was a bit early for him to flaunt such comedic genius. Instead, Supping the contents of several glasses at once, he made his way out into the throbbing mass of people, intent on finding food, fighting, females and fun.
~Darkhound, literally, a part animal.
Picking his moment carefully, Daylorn waited until there was one of those hushes the inexplicably happens at least once at any party, and sauntered in, scanning the room. "Nice... dress, Sundara." "Darkhound, you look dashing. New cane?" "Taim, your usual black, I see."
Suddenly, across the room, he saw the Great Mistress herself. Moving closer, he decided to enjoy himself. "Great Mistress, may I have this dance?" She turned to him...
Since the soulless valets disturbed the gigantic grey clydesdale that Haman had arrived on, the Ogier saw to his mount himself. As he ducked into the stable, murmuring about structures built without Ogier in mind, he heard giggling in the hayloft. As any true gentleman, he studiously ignored the sounds from above, tethered his mount, and made to step out quickly when a voice beckoned him. A hooded man stood in the shadows.
"They all think it's you, Ogier. They all think you are the rambler!"
"What? I dont see why. I played your game, now might I ask who are you?" But the man just giggled and fled.
Haman put the event to the back of his mind as he entered, fashionably late. He was dressed in his Elder's robes, purple and green with golden embroidery down the sleeves. It did, however, reach a little short to the ground, and seemed to hug his paunch a little tighter nowadays. But he had trimmed and groomed his beard, removing the darkest hairs to make it a regal white. His ear-tufts he could not manage so well, and so they crazily betrayed every attempt he made at appearing venerable and wise.
He was immediately greeting by Sundara, who struck him as dashing in her rippling dress. "Fortunate am I to have such large eyes, the more to drink you in with," he offered and with an Ogier's delicacy bowed to kiss either cheek. "Many happy returns, Sunny." With the most intriguing smile, she asked, "refresh my memory again, friend Elder, why you haven't joined the Shadow yet." She took his arm and escorted him into the main atrium.
Tam was a little late. He was excited for his friend's 17th. Tam could still remember his 17th birthday. It was 10 mounths and 29 days ago. Suddenly Tam was jerked to the present: Sundara had the most excusit dress on. This party was rocking. The party couldn't have started very long ago but already some of the light warriors were dancing on tables with lamp chimnys on there heads. This band was certainly excellent. Suddenly the band started to play "in the mood". Tam longed for his trombone. Tam got an idea, he found on of the sisters and asked her to make one for him. Tam stepped up on the band stand and started to play...
Ariella looked critically at her reflection in the mirror. Not knowing what Sundara would decide to wear and wanting to be sure their garb would not be too similar (after all, it was her party), Ari had chosen the design of her gown from a land she had once visited through the Portal Stones, a land called "Ancient Greece." She’d had the silk specially woven for it: forest hues, all greens and browns that seemed to shift and change with the light. Here and there, the silk was shot through with fine strands of silver and gold, adding to the shimmer. The design itself was quite simple. Two lengths of the silk were tied together with an intricate knot over one shoulder, then allowed to drape smoothly over her form. Gold cords were cross-tied under the bodice and around her waist, securing the fabric. As she walked, the slits in the sides exposed flashes of bare skin all the way up to the thigh. In keeping with the style, she wore flat golden sandals, laced up to mid-calf. She’d left her hair loose, pulling it back from her face with a pair of simple jade combs. She slipped a delicate gold arm ring on, and decided she was ready for the party.
As she went downstairs, she was surprised to see that she was one of the earlier arrivals -- she’d been hoping to be fashionably late and make a grand entrance. Ah, well, perhaps next time... She saw Darkhound looking for mischief, dashing in his red tails, and gave him a look that said eloquently, "Behave yourself!" She took in Sundara’s gorgeous dress with an approving smile: she’d finally seen that simple elegance was best. As lovely as she was, she really didn’t need much help from a dress.
She thought she caught a glimpse of Taim, and was just about to go over to him, when a deep, cultured voice said, "Great Mistress, may I have this dance?" Turning, she saw Daylorn, the new leader of the Light Warriors smiling down at her. She’d always been fond of this charming young man, with his elegant manners and wry humor, and then, she’d always had a thing for tall, handsome warriors, too. "It would be my very great pleasure, Daylorn," she replied, holding out her hand to him. He led her to the dance floor, and she was not in the least surprised to find that he danced with the same elegant grace with which he wielded his blade. She entertained a brief thought of trying to seduce him to the Shadow, but gave it up at once. It would likely be a losing effort anyway, and even if she were successful, he would no longer be the Daylorn she admired. Still, it was an amusing thought, especially if he did everything with such grace and finesse...
All too soon, the dance was ended, and he gave her a bow worthy of a courtier as she stepped out of the circle of his arms. "I thank you for the dance, Daylorn," she said with a grin. "Perhaps you will save another for me, later? But for now, there are many others I must needs greet." And off she sailed, in search of friends, enemies, allies, and lovers. Later, she would give Sundara her gift, and smiled in anticipation of her surprise...
Ariella, the Great Mistress of the Dark and proud older Sister
Cerise looked at her companion, Jandor, and smiled. This was definetly going to be fun. She was certainly glad that she had picked this... outfit. Cerise was clad in a white tuxedo which included, cumberbund, vest, tails, and gloves. Cerise had even swept her long red curls back up into an elegant french twist, and put white and silver combs in her shining hair. She grinned and looked at Jandor.
"Cerise, are you sure about this?" Jandor asked. Cerise tried really hard not to laugh. Jandor, or Jandorette?, was wearing a stunning emerald green DOMANI cut dress. She was glad that she had done Jandor's makeup for him and boughten him that blonde wig. He really did make a stunning woman. "Yes, Jandor, you wanted to be my escort, and you are, right?", Cerise said with a sly smile. "I just never told you what kind of escort. Besides, we'll be a big hit. You look... beautiful." Cerise giggled slightly. Maybe I am being foolish, she thought, Aes Sedai don't ever do this. But then again, I'm a Light Warrior now. We're all a bunch of kooks.
Cerise took Jandor by the hand, weary of his matching green stillettos, and entered the main dancing hall. She couldn't wait for everyone's suprise.
~Cerise, that strange and odd Sedai
"Ah, fun this is," said Kiriath, deliberately using a fakey Yoda voice
for the fun of it. "Fun is this." Of course, though, he was one of the
band, standing on the stage and making utterly off-key music -perhaps on
the order of Perrin's singing ..hey wait! There he is now, and singing.
Oh, what a dance, laughed Kir. What a dance!
He surveyed the crowd curiously, using his loony spy tactics, and noticed something odd. Someone over in the center of the durned group. A group of women dancing the Tinkers' dance! And the SA'SARA over there, too!? He turned away to glance, of course, at the Sa'Sara and blushed automatically. What a dance. What a blushingly fun dance....
Matrim walked in late. Well, he thought, let's get this party started!
"Excuse me, where's the bar?" he asked the first person he saw.
"(hic) th' bur? I danno any bur... (hic)..."
The man then collapsed on the ground.
Well that's just great, thought Mat. How can I get rip roaring drunk if I don't get a bit of the old Andorian knee shortener in me? As luck would have it, he saw Darkhound turning circles in the middle of the room.
"Hey, DH!" He yelled, "Still trying to work some juice offa the old 'circulating' gag?"
"Shh!" he said,"Don't spoil it!"
"Haven't seen you in a long time my un-domesticated friend. How goes Ariella?"
A sudden poof came from behind Mat. "Did someone call me--- YOU!"
Mat winced, and turned around slowly. "Oh, uh, hello Ariella. You're not still mad about that butt-sagging joke I made, oh what was it, 3 months ago? I was really just kidding, I never meant--"
Mat had to shout the last part of that statement while hiding behind a chair.
"Umm... did I ever tell you that you look REALLY attractive with steam blowing out of your ears?"
"Hopefully, she'll forget about this and change me back in a few minutes", said the brand new Matrim "Golden Retriever" Cauthon to DH.
"Don't count on it," he laughed,"Don't count on it."
Taim was on time as always and all decked out in his best clothes, all black of course. He flourished his cape to the envy of every gleeman. He bowed over the Lady Sundara's hand and presented her with his gift. She admired the beautiful silver hair piece. 'I thought it would work well with your luxurious hair and stunning eyes my dear. I hope you like it.' They spoke briefly of his return and all the details of administration then she excused herself to attend her other guests. Taim noticed Daylorn finishing up his dance with Ariella and made his way to speak to him. 'My Lord,' Taim bowed his head. 'What a splendid affair. I had hoped to speak to you about somethings I have noticed.' Taim explained. 'I think it can wait until after the party though, but I wanted to commend you for the foresight you had when you promoted Mordeth. He is quite addept.' Daylorn smiled and said, 'I think so. He seems quite capable.' 'Indeed my Lord. Please let me know of a convienent time to go over some other information I have concerning the Dark.' Taim bowed and excused himself. Mingling is hard work, he thought to himself. He circulated in a more human way, while Darkhound chased his tails. 'Good to see you again Mat.' Then he saw her. Ariella had gone all out tonight. She was stunning in that odd garb. 'May I have this dance mistress?' 'But of course Taim.' And the band started a jig.... This was most certainly going to be a long night.
Nightfall entered with strange music blaring behind him. Not his usual entrance considering his dress, black silken shirt embrodied with silver thread and his doublet down tastefully as he moved down. It turned many heads as he entered and smiled to himself. This was certainly looking like to be a splendid party. Even the Great Mistress had come down to attend this party. But then she had a penchance for that and other things. Hiding the blush that came to his cheeks, he moved on, looking at Sundara, and seeing her having a great time at her little gala. However he could not hide the fact that he knew with dreaded certainty that the eyes he had hoped to avoid still followed. It was to be his curse he knew. But still the music and the smells, and especially the women drew some of his attention. Still he could not help but look at the Great Mistress and wondered if she was still looking for him. It was little matter though. Now was a time of celebration at Shayol Ghul. Something that part of him could not shake as ironic. With a delightful shrug he move through the crowd and made his way to one of the lone groups gathered there.
Daylorn was sorry to see the end of his dance with the Great Mistress, but there was a limit to how much bliss a man could take, Light Warrior or no. As he moved away, Taim approached him. They talked of business for a time, then moved apart, Taim to dance with Ariella, himself to present Sundara his gift. Handing it to her with a flourish of his silver-lined gold cloak, he waited for her reaction. He'd found this gift after much searhing through the Worlds of If, in the process becoming quite proficient at manipulating Portal Stones. "Why Daylorn, it's lovely!" Sundara exclaimed. It was, indeed. A silver rose, still alive, he'd found it in a possibility where order and chaos seemed totally distinct from good and evil, and the legions of Chaos seemed more honorable than those of Order.... He never wanted to go to that place again, but it had netted him this gift. After some small talk, the crowd whirled them apart again. He noticed a golden retriever near Darkhound. "A new friend, Darkhound?" He didn't stay to find out, sometimes it was better not to know. Moving on, he saw that Taim was definately enjoying himself, for once that smile of his was more than half. He wondered if Jandor had Lord Algemar's gift. Hey, where was Jandor? There was Cerise, in a tux, of all things, and the ugliest woman in the world was on her arm... wait a moment. Jandor?! No, he was seeing things, surely. Hmm... who else to talk to or dance with? He scanned the crowd...
Daylorn "okay, if it's a Dark Sister, she's obviously not weak-minded, I'm sorry" Riantar
A Gateway opened just in front of the Palace of the Dark Sisters, and a man wearing a long, sky-blue velvet coat, black pants, and a pair of soft leather boots. The most noticeable thing was that he was wearing a mask that covered all of his face except for his brown eyes and his mouth and chin. And on the top of his head, he wore a beret with the symbol of a fox on it. The Gateway faded, and he put a strangely marked rod back into a pocket of his coat. He walked up the steps to the entrance, and was stopped by the doorman, who immediately asked to see his invitation. Unperturbed, the man calmly pulled out a folded sheet of paper and opened it for the doorman, holding a finger just in the right spot as to cover the name of who it was addressed to. The doorman stepped back and waved the masked man in, giving him directions to the main hall. "No, that's not necessary," the man said in a sonorous voice. "I already know my way around."
The man entered the main hall, and quickly noticed several people whom he recognized. Over there was Daylorn, presenting a gift to Sundara; over there was Ariella dancing with Taim; Tam Al'thor was playing his trombone on stage, as well as others. Some of the guests turned to see who it was that had entered, and he received more than his share of calculating looks, as if they could somehow perceive his identity. A half-smile appeared on his face. His identity was safe, for now; he had made sure that no-one would learn it prematurely.
There were some things he had on his agenda, and had no time to waste. First on his list was Sundara. She was dressed fabulously, and the masked man had no choice but to whistle softly to himself. He walked over to her, reached inside his coat and handed her a small box. "From a friend," he said with a wink. "Don't open it until tomorrow. You'll enjoy it more then." Sundara replied with a thank you, and cocked her head to the side, possibly in an attempt to figure out his identity. The man slowly shook his head, waggled his finger and continued on with his duties.
Scanning the crowd, he did not see Mordeth. A pity, he thought. I had a few things to say to that man. Next, however, he needed a drink. He passed by a dancing couple that seemed to be in the wrong clothes, and made his way over to one of the porters who had a tray loaded with glasses. Helping himself to a couple, he set his sights on his next target. Unfortunately, he didn't see the tell-tale coppery-gold hair of Carramaena L'Var, at least not yet. With a sigh he made his way to a couch next to the wall. Patience was the key, he thought. Anyways, this night is still young yet, anything could happen...
A Masked Man
Darkhound stopped rotating in the centre of the room, but the room continued of it's own accord. Strange, he'd only had the three trays of wine.... He focused on the many doors all leading to outside, and tried to aim for the middle one.
Twenty minutes of trying to walk through walls later, Darkhound found the door, lurched outside, fell over a hedge, and began to snore softly.
The man who called himself Mordeth entered the hall on unsteady feet. He wore a pure white robe, held in at the waist by a blood-red sash. He looked out of calm blue eyes at the milling throng, and couldn't help but grin at the proceedings. First of all, he had to pay his respects to their host, Sundara. He had heard of her beauty, but hearing and seeing were two different things, he soon discovered. He stood awestruck, and for once in his life, lost for words at the graceful domani Aes Sedai. He had to remind himself that she was a dark sister, before he could summon enough wits to approach her. He bowed low, keeping his gaze meeting hers all the while.
"Sundara, we have not met, though you may have heard of me. I certainly have heard of you, and I find the rumours of your perfect beauty greatly understated." Bowing low a second time, he turned and left her before she could respond. As his eyes swept the crowd, he saw Jandor and Cerise dressed.... interestingly, and couldn't help but smile at their youthful games. He saw Lord Daylorn, who seemed to be scanning the crowd himself, and their eyes met. A slight nod from each acknowledged each other, and spoke of business to be discussed. Taim strutted around making sure everyone noticed him, but seemed to be well received, so Mordeth decided to leave his new associate to his own devices. A golden retriever was drinking punch from a bowl. Could this be Darkhound? He had heard that the mutt was going to make quite an entrance, but surely this was not the figure that caused so much commotion wherever he went? Then he noticed the masked man, staring directly at him. Something about the man's posture was familiar, and he was obviously taking an interest in Mordeth. "Well, let him stare," thought Mordeth. "He knows where I am if he wants to speak with me."
And then the room, and the party, and everything became unimportant as he spied a woman who seemed to have people queueing to speak with her. Dressed in a style from another time and place, she radiated power and confidence, matched only by the glow of her amazing beauty, so bright she shone like a second sun. From the soles of her elegant sandals, to the top of her fine auborn hair, she was gorgeous. Mordeth was sure the Creator had sent an angel to the party. His heart skipped several beats as she caught his gaze and held it. Normally he liked to pin people with his own gaze, but he felt cpativated by her, enthralled. His will seemed to fold in on itself and collapse, and he found it difficult to remember his name. He yearned to approach her, to speak with her, but felt ungainly, uncouth, unsophisticated, out of place. But then, with a slight movement of her head she summoned him.
With a great effort he managed to start walking toward her. As he approached, he felt a strong desire to kneel before her, but managed to keep it to a deep bow. Swallowing twice, he finally managed to gather enough moisture in his throat to speak.
"My lady, I don't believe I have had the pleasure...."
"You would be Mordeth, then. Well met, master Mordeth. I am known as the Great Mistress of the Dark to many." She smiled as his face paled, and his brow beaded with sweat. "But you may call me Ariella. I have heard a lot about you Mordeth." The way she emphasised "lot" left him in no doubt she knew more about him than anyone else in the room. She extended a hand for him to kiss, and with shaking hands, he found himself obeying automatically. This was the Great Mistress of the Dark? But... she was beautiful! How could such a woman be a relative of the dark one? It wasn't possible... unless it was illusion, of course. But as his cold lips touched her warm flesh, he knew this was no illusion. He had to get away, for the sake of his own sanity. Fortunately, Ariella must have sensed his predicament, and smiled at him, a smile of knowledge.
"Why master Mordeth, how rude of me to keep you, when you clearly have many friends and aquaintances you would like to speak with. I shall see you later, for a chat, and maybe a dance..." It was a dismissal, albeit a polite one, but he was grateful. Turning on his heels, he decided that alcohol had a lot of merit at such a time, and decided to find the sanctuary of the bar. The masked man suddenly made his way across the room on an interception course....
It was several glasses later that the masked man saw one of his targets. Mordeth had appeared in the room, wearing a white robe. He had just finished talking to the Great Mistress of the Dark, and looked like he needed a drink. As Mordeth walked over to the bar, the masked man set an intercept course.
They met at the bar. Mordeth said, "May I help you?" in that abrupt, no nonsense tone that he had. "Yes, yes you can." the masked man replied. "I hear that you are now a member of the Light Warriors. Congratulations. I also hear that you have some plans for their reformation." Mordeth finished downing his drink, and waved to the bartener for another. "Why yes I do," he said as his face partially lit up. "The main problem I see with the Light Warriors is..." Mordeth talked for a long time, pointing out the merits as well as the flaws of his organization, all the while the masked man stood there, a drink in his hand, listening patiently. "...should be put in a rehab clinic for an indefinate amount of time." Mordeth said, finishing his entire speech, as well as several more drinks. "I see. Well, you have a good night now, be careful where you walk, and don't do anything that might get you into trouble," The masked man said, as he walked away to a door leading to the gardens outside. Taking in a breath of fresh air, he almost didn't notice the sleeping form of Darkhound sprawled half on a hedge, half on the ground. The masked man smiled softly.
The Masked Man
Mordeth listened to the man talk, and tried not to grin at the veiled threat. Despite the mask, he believed he knew the identity of the man. He pondered the irony of people trying to keep secrets from him of all people, he who had been plotting and planning even in the womb. Well, let the man have his fun. Mordeth would laugh last, and longest.
He inadvertantly glanced towards Ariella for the hundredth time, and decided he had to leave. He was practically on the verge of abasing himself at her feet like a... a darkhound. Without further hesitation he left the party.
Ariella finished up a spirited jig with Taim -- the man’s feet were apparently every bit as nimble as his fine mind. As the song ended and the Pipe Major of the World launched into a lively reel, she touched Taim’s cheek fondly and said, "It is good to have you back among us again, old friend. If you ever wish to reconsider your allegiance..." she let the sentence trail off, knowing he would, as always, take her meaning perfectly.
Ari noticed a silvery head towering above all others in the room. Could it be? Yes -- Haman had actually bestirred himself from his studies to attend! What a delightful surprise! Crossing quickly to where he stood, she saw Sundara just stepping away after what had seemed to be a fairly intent conversation. "Glory to the Builders, Elder! You are looking quite noble this evening, Haman, but I must say, those ear tufts need a bit of work!" She grinned up at him and offered her hand to be kissed. His deep, rumbling chuckle told her he’d taken the jibe in the playful spirit in which she’d offered it. "I did my best with them, Great Mistress, but they defy me at every turn." Ari made a tiny gesture with one finger, and Haman felt a tiny tug on his tufts, as if a slight breeze had stirred them. Ariella gave him a wry smile. "I told them that since they were such magnificent tufts, they really ought to look the part, and they saw my point. I don’t think you’ll have any more trouble with them, Haman, I really don’t." Looking into a nearby mirror, Haman saw that his tufts were now neatly, perfectly groomed, and he suspected they would stay that way, too.
She caught a glimpse of a man in white she did not recognize, but in that garb, he could only be a Light Warrior, and the only Light Warrior she did not know on sight was that new recruit, Mordeth. The reports she’d had on him so far were not good; he seemed to be a strong voice on behalf of the Light, and worse, seemed to take the whole Light vs. Dark thing way too seriously. She was just wondering how she wanted to handle him, when her eyes caught his and she watched his face change. Well, this was going to be easier than she’d thought... By the time he came over to make his introduction, he was completely gone. He could barely even speak his name, as tongue-tied as a country lad at his first festival. She realized at once that if she wanted him, she had but to crook her little finger, and he would be hers. But that did not serve her purposes, and so she sent him on his way with a smile. An interesting development, indeed.
As Mordeth walked blindly away from her, seemingly intent upon drowning himself in drink, Ari noticed a masked man heading toward him, clearly planning to intercept him. There was something familiar about his presence, the way he walked and held himself, but she could not pin it down. She was just about to stop him when she heard a sharp, canine, "yelp." Looking over to where she’d last seen Mat-the-Retriever, she saw that someone had sat a chair leg squarely on his lovely golden tail. She winced -- that must have hurt. With a huge sigh, she went over and moved the chair. "Mat, sit!" she said, as he started to run away. "How am I going to change you back, if you won’t hold still? Now behave yourself, or I’ll give you the mange instead!" He gave her an impudent, doggy grin. "You are definitely not canine material, Mat; for one thing, you’re not housebroken. And for another, you’d be way too dangerous with puppy-dog eyes!" She narrowed her eyes briefly, and he was back to himself. "Now go get drunk, grope a few serving girls, and save me a dance." She grinned at him. "I like you in spite of yourself, you know!"
Having dealt with Mat, she decided it was time to give Sunny her naming-day gift. She caught Sundara’s attention, and motioned for her to come over to the stage. As Sunny made her way through the crowd, Ari signaled for the Piper to stop playing, and tapped on a crystal goblet to get the crowd’s attention. As the room fell silent, Sunny came and stood beside her older Sister. "Noble guests, friends, allies, respected enemies, today is a momentous occasion. Today my youngest Sister, Sundara, celebrates her seventeenth Naming Day! And to mark this occasion, I have a very special gift to bestow upon her. Sundara, would you please close your eyes?" Sunny complied, and Ariella reached out and lightly touched both of her eyelids, her own eyes unfocused as she concentrated. Suddenly, Sunny’s eyes flew open and she gasped. "Wh- what have you done to me Ari? I feel... I feel different. I can sense the Source, but when I do, there is something else there, too, something... dark!" Ari gave a satisfied smile. "I have granted you access to the True Power, my Sister, something I have done only once before. Unlike my brother, once I have given this gift, it stays given -- you don’t have to beg every time. I’m sure Moridin or Ishy would be happy to fill you in on some of the practical applications of this gift." She hugged Sunny tightly and whispered, "I am proud of you, little Sister. Use my gift wisely." Then she stepped off the stage and went in search of more dance partners. All in all, it was turning out to be a splendid party!
Ariella, the Great Mistress of the Dark and giver of unique naming-day gifts
The delight Haman felt from finally having the wild willful ear-tufts straightened for good was soon engulfed in the more immediate pleasure of the dance floor, the Great Mistress never failing to disappoint. If one can imagine dancing a waltz with so bulky a partner as a less than slender Ogier, one would better appreciate how elegant Ari made dancing with Haman appear, and his heart so warmed he thanked her at dance's end and drifted towards bar himself.
Ordering his habitual scotch-on-the-rocks, drank from a tea pitcher
as any other might from a teacup, Haman sat next to Taim, who was grinning
as he secretly massaged his foot under the table. "Good to see you, Taim,
and all hail the Tiger Ajah!"
"You wouldn't hail the Tiger Ajah if we threatened to gid up your garden!" Taim's grin met a chuckle as deep and loud as thunder. "A pleasure to see you, too, my friend."
They reminisced, as old friends will, about old posters, and commented on new; and pushed around several elaborate and unlikely theories until Ariella stood to announce the giving of gifts. Both shot off in their seperate directions.
Once the Great Mistress had presented her own gift with the usual flair,
Haman approached. "It cannot hope to compare to your sister's present,
but please, accept this as a token of friendship." From his sleeve he pulled
a book, small in his hands, and gave it to her.
"One Hundred and One Arguments for Taim Being Demandred, and Other Crazy Notions", she read the title aloud. "Why, Haman, thank you so much!," and with a furtive look, "now where has Taim gone off to?"
Darkhound awoke just as the masked man reached him.
"Wha... Who... Wassyorgamehey? Erm... I'm hungry!" Darkhound stood and, eyeing the masked man with a grin, made his way inside. Honestly, the things people would do to get attention...
The Great Mistress made her speach, and waiting behind Elder Haman, who he greeted with a respectful nod, he awaited Sundara. When she was free, he grinned at her and bowed.
"My lady, I hope you received the flowers I sent you. They are poor fare compared to the gifts you have had since, but it was all a poor pup could manage at the time." Sundara gave him a gracious nod, and seemed content.
Now, the Great Mistress finally had a moment too herself. Quick as a flash, he was at her side, as he had been so many times before.
"I wonder, Great Mistress, if I might have the pleasure of the next dance with you?"
Cerise casually sat at the bar, and watched Mordeth and the Masked-Man during their conversation, and also observed the rest of the party. She tried to make eye contact with Mordeth, whom she hadn't seen in awhile, but those drinks were going down fast. She wouldn't dare to use the OP to eavesdrop here tho. Cerise glanced back at the dance floor, and stood up. She should probably mingle, she thought. Cerise wandered over to Taim, and tapped him on the shoulder. "May I have this dance, my friend?" Taim smiled a full smile, and nodded. While they danced, Cerise surveyed the room, and whispered a few remarks to Taim. He nodded on occasion, and shook his head on others. As the dance finished, Cerise kissed Taim's cheek and bowed. (Well she was in a tux after all.)
Gliding toward the tGmOtD, Cerise stopped and waited for her and DarkHound to seperate slightly and then approached. (She didn't want to appear as if doing anything wrong.) "I am glad to have the pleasure of finally meeting you, Sister." Cerise said with a warm smile. "Please, call me Ariella, and it's nice to meet you as well. I heard that you were in a show, that I have heard of once, what part was that?" Cerise replied,"Oh, it's part of the teenage chorus, I'm Penelope Ann. Kind of funny, an AS cast in that role, but if it pleases the Light, let it be." Ariella nodded, and Cerise made her excuses. She glanced Sundara a few feet away and went towards her. "Sundara, congratulations on your Name-Day. Here is my gift, I hope you like it, and find use for it." Cerise handed Sundara a small silvery wrapped package that had a black ribbon tied about it from her belt. Sundara opened her gift. She reached into the box and pulled out an intricate silver necklace that was woven with onyx and moonstones. Sundara smiled, and murmured a thank you. Sundara and Cerise exchanged a warm smile.
She then turned around and glanced at the bar. Damn, she thought. Mordeth had left, without an even hello. She frowned, and wondered where Jandor was, and then went and had herself three more cups of vodka.
Well, Tam thought, it is about time for me to give Sundara her gift;
and a warning. Tam jumped of the stage, gave the power made trombane a
caress and headed toward Sundara. When Tam got to the front of the line
he gave sundara his gift, a lifetime pass to THE MIDNIGHT ROSE, the best
and only bib band bar in Andor.
When he recived his customary hug from sundara he quickly wispered in her ear "I have been able to watch the whole party from the stage. If I were you I would be carfule when I open that gift from the masked man. Oh and I hope you have have the best name day in the world". with that Tam left in search of a dance partner.
Just as the masked man was about to light his pipe, Darkhound jumped up muttering something and ran back into the main hall. Watching him go, the masked man noticed that the band had stopped playing, and that people were speaking individually. Ahh, the presenting of the gifts, he thought. He was amazed at some of the gifts: the True Power from ariella, a book of the reasons for Taimandred from Haman, flowers from Darkhound, and a lifetime pass to a club from Tam. Puffing on his pipe, he silently hoped that she would like his gift. Even as he dumped the ashes of his pipe and grabbed the strange rod from his coat, he could envision the gift he had placed in the box:
For your 17th Naming Day, I present to
you the gift of Peace: Peace for a full
year. On my honor and my love of the
Light, I will not break this peace.
Taking the mask off his face, Agelmar shook his head ruefully at the actions he had to take. "Maybe one of these days I won't have to guard against any unfortuitous actions taken against me," he thought. "Yeah, and maybe this mountain will get lighter." Tossing the mask disdainfully to the ground, a Gateway opened in front of him, leading back to his chambers, not within Dragonmount, but in his keep in Fal Dara.
She arrived for the party rather late. A few guest seemed to leave already. She saw Darkhound, he was in a pityfull state, and felt a twing of guilt. It has been a bad joke. Fortunately he would soon recover from it - after all he was DARKHOUND. She walked straight to Sundara who was talking with friends and greeted. "My best wishes, Lady Sundara. I know that my gift is not worth its receiver. I only hope that you may accept my best intent." With these words she presented a little wooden carving.
Sundara looked at the gift. The carving was beautyful. It showed two
dragons, a dark one and a light one entangled with each other, maybe in
fight or maybe in love.
"That's lovely. Oh thank you, Ulrike." Sundara exclaimed. "I hope you will enjoy the party. Have fun."
Narishma sat on his bed in the Black Tower, thinking about the day's
events. He had recieved an invitation to Sundara's 17th naming day, but
Daylorn had advised him not to attend. Narishma chuckled grimly. Advised?
That wasn't quite the way to put it. Ordered was more like it. The man
had been worried that someone might give him away in a social gathering
between Light and Dark, and that could not be allowed. So Jahar had given
apologies to Sundara, and a promise to give her her gift at a later time,
and told all he was too sick too attend. Bloody Daylorn. He was probably
enjoying himself greatly at this very moment.
Reluctantly, he reached out into his mind, to the part of him that contained the bond between himself and Egwene2. Moridin had done that simply because Jahar was not entirely trusted. He felt to the knot that held her emotions, and grimaced. She was ecstatic, and having a wonderrful time, it seemed. As horrible as it might seem, he was almost used to sharing his mind with someone else, even if she was a darkfriend. No matter; she would play into his hands eventually. He and Daylorn and the Light Warriors would take all. If only Daylorn would not leave him out of the fun.
Jahar Narishma, Soldier of the Black Tower, Disgruntled Light Warrior
Daylorn looked around one more time. Yes, no one should be coming here for a while. He opened a small portal and slipped a message through to Narishma. "Lord Agelmar successfully came in disquise... perhaps you can too. If you still want to come, the party should go on for a few more days, and everyone is inebriated enough that any slipups should go unnoticed."
Closing the Gateway, Daylorn hurried back to the party.
The masked man smiled to himself as he entered the banquet hall where
Sundara's naming Day party was being held. All warriors, of Light and Dark,
were in attendance; this was not an event anyone would miss, though he
came close. There was Darkhound, Ariella's lapdog, with a new friend; a
golden retriever. Daylorn, the leader of the Forces of Light, and another
masked man gave him wry grins; he suspected they knew who he was, but he
did not care. He was going to enjoy himself if it killed him. The first
woman he danced with was Sundara, after he gave her his gift: a golden
necklace, laced with silver and diamonds. She made over it as she would
any gift, but he hoped she truly liked it. He danced with her for a good
time, and enjoyed it; that dress was enticind, whether or not she was a
darkfriend. Sundara was far from the last, of course. He danced with women
of all height and size, from every country, until he came to the one he
knew best. Egwene2 leaned sleepily against a column, but as her gaze wandered
over the room, it passed him. Just as quickly, it snapped back; her mouth
opened to speak, she
definetly knew who he was. A warning look to her, and she closed her mouth. He went over to her and asked for the next dance. He was
going to enjoy himself, and this was a wonderful place to do so.
Masked Man; No.2
Egwene2 stood in the shadows and people-watched avidly. Somehow after she had played her trick on Darkhound, she found she just wasn't in the mood for a wild party. She felt an unfamiliar emotion that she was pretty sure was guilt. She looked around the crowded floor but didn't see him anywhere. He was probably still circulating. Just then Ariella announced the gift giving would commence.
Egwene glanced at the scroll in her hand and, not for the first time, hoped Sundara would like her present. Slowly Egwene2 made her way through the crowd smiling at those she knew well and those she'd just met. As she passed by Ulrike, they both shared a broad grin. It appeared they definitely would be good friends.
Egwene2 pasused a few feet away from Sundara and smiled at her Sister's excitement over each gift presented. Ah... to be young again!
Soon it was Egwene2's turn to present her gift.
"Sundara, I thought long and hard on the appropriate namingday gift and at last found something I hope will please you." Egwene passed the scroll to Sundara and watched, anxious yet again, for her reaction.
Sundara unrolled the parchment and read aloud.
She stood, radiant
Full of life, full of joy
Whose lives she touched
When she smiles
The Shadow brightens
A frown begets
Storms and tears
Through every day
Her driving force
Pushes her beyond
The cusp of childhood
Beyond our imagination
Egwene2, happy naming day!
Not to say that these things bothered Taim, but after an hour or so he definitely needed a stiff drink. Taim wandered over to the bar and ordered a martini. He leaned back and relaxed against the bar. Watching others was half of his job today. These events were meant for those who played the game, but Taim came anyway. What was everyone up to now? It was so nice to see Cerise again. He hoped she wasn't going to be gone long. The Light would feel the loss. Where was that Masked Man anyway? That would have been an intriguing man to speak with. Taim gathered his strenght and meandered back to the throng. 'Time to find another dancing partner,' he said. To anyone passing by they probably would have thought of a different type of dancing than was meant.