Posted on June 26-September 01, 1998 on WoT Alliance BBS
Category: WoT Humor

Renovating The White Tower

Part 1: White Ajah
Part 2: Gray Ajah
Part 3: Yellow Ajah
Part 4: Blue Ajah
Part 5: Brown Ajah
Part 6: Green Ajah
Part 7: Red Ajah
Part 8: The Hall
Part 9: The Amyrlin


Part 1: White Ajah

[INTRO: Shortly after the Last Battle, Egwene is sitting in the Amyrlin's office in the White Tower, summoning in the head - or some representative of the head - of each Ajah to speak to her.]

EGWENE: Sit down! Tell me, what does your Ajah do to justify its existence?

WHITE: We apply ourselves to logic, Mother.

EGWENE: Marvelous! What have you come up with lately to benefit humanity and improve our public relations problem with the nations of the world? You know, those nasty people who think when we aren't meddling with their lives, we're cloistered here in the Tower amusing ourselves by doing things of no earthly value to anyone at all?

WHITE: Well, mother, after 500 years of rousing debate, we have finally resolved the old problem: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

EGWENE: And?

WHITE: Our consensus was: "WHO CARES? It doesn't matter! Logically, we should stick to problems relating to the experiences and difficulties of actual human beings!"

EGWENE: It took you five hundred years to settle that point for once and for all? I'm afraid to ask what your Ajah has selected as its new favorite problem ...

WHITE: A very practical one, Mother, with far-reaching consequences for every Sister in times to come! The knotty question of whether or not using the Oath Rod actually shortens our lifespans!

EGWENE: How soon do you expect an answer on that one?

WHITE: Well,.we compiled information on the birthdates of every Tower novice who has not yet held the Oath Rod, and similar statistics for every apprentice Wise One among the Aiel. We propose to have the novices use the Oath Rod, the Wise Ones naturally won't, and then after everybody dies we'll be able to tabulate our results and see which group lived longer, on average!

EGWENE: (rubbing her aching forehead) Did you consider compiling such data for the past thousand years, using the records of the Kin and the Wise Ones in contrast to those of the Tower, and reaching some IMMEDIATE conclusions?

WHITE: (in a reproachful tone) Mother, that would be most unorthodox! Frankly, we suspect many of the Kin are lying about their ages in order to gain more status among us than they actually deserve. And the Wise Ones ... they hardly even write things down! They rely on oral tradition! It would be most illogical to assume that their memories are perfect! We only rely upon data we can observe and record for ourselves!

EGWENE: So, in another 300 or 400 years, you may reach a conclusion on whether using the Oath Rod can be dangerous to our longevity?

WHITE: (beaming proudly as this stupid Amyrlin finally gets the point) That's right, Mother!

EGWENE: I am seriously considering disbanding your Ajah entirely and starting over fresh. Or at least giving it a new mission. Tell me, have you ever considered applying your logical and analytical skills to practical pursuits such as engineering and mathematics, and perhaps starting a technical school to instruct others in these disciplines so that we can finally achieve a few genuine technological advances after 3000 years of stagnation?

WHITE: (blank stare) Teaching? You mean, teaching NORMAL people? What a waste of time! They never live long enough to properly understand anything, anyway!

EGWENE: That's all for now. Dismissed! Send in the Gray Sister, will you? I want to hear what HER Ajah has done lately ...


Part 2: Gray Ajah

[CAVEAT: This one isn't quite as funny as the last one, I'm afraid. I always thought the Whites were definitely the silliest Ajah, because if they did ANYTHING useful with their free time - such as leaving the Tower to interact with normal people occasionally - we sure didn't hear much about it. But it's not meant to be taken dead seriously, either :) ]

[INTRO: Shortly after the Last Battle, Egwene is sitting in the Amyrlin's office in the White Tower, summoning in the head - or some representative of the head - of each Ajah to speak to her.]

EGWENE: Sit down! Tell me, what does your Ajah do to justify its existence?

GRAY: Well, Mother, we dedicate ourselves to negotiation and diplomacy. We are often chosen to represent the Tower as advisers and/or ambassadors to other nations, and we often try to use diplomacy to prevent conflicts between other lands as well.

EGWENE: Yes ... and how have things been going lately?

GRAY: (sighing) Well, Mother, the coming of the Dragon Reborn has caused terrible damage to all our plans. He's such an impetuous young man, and what makes it unfair is that he's ta'veren and gets away with things that no sane political strategist would contemplate! We blame him for the War of Succession in Cairhien and the subsequent Shaido invasion of that war-torn land; the way Almoth Plain became a charnel house; the recent Tear/Illian war, the way the Shaido septs are now scattered across the map, and probably for -

EGWENE: (sympathetically) Must be nice to have an outsider you can blame all your troubles on ... but until he came along, how do you feel your Ajah had been doing?

GRAY: Oh, we were doing splendidly, Mother! I cite the evidence of the Domani/Saldean conflict of the eighth century, the second Civil War in Illian, back around 750 NE; the attempt of the Amadicians to eliminate the Tinkers from the face of the earth in the fourth century of this Age ...

EGWENE: (raising a hand) One moment, daughter. I don't recall hearing about any of those wars in the history lectures when I was a novice.

GRAY: (very earnestly) Of COURSE not, Mother! They never happened! That's the POINT!

EGWENE: (blinking several times and rubbing her aching head) Er ... run that by me again?

GRAY: The supreme triumph of diplomacy, Mother, is to PREVENT wars from ever getting started - except in those few cases where there is a genuine menace to be dealt with, as quickly and efficiently as possible. But most wars are exercises in needless stupidity, and if we can help both sides see that BEFORE the bloodshed begins ... we win!

EGWENE: Just for the record, how many wars do you calculate would have happened without your timely intervention?

GRAY (eyes wander as she tries to add it all up): In the thousand years since the beginning of the New Era calendar ... about 139. That's not counting the occasional coup, rebellion, annexation, and the like, all of which might have been rather messy on a small scale.

EGWENE: So you feel you've been successful in preventing wars?

GRAY (seeing the trap): Well ... frequently, but not ALWAYS.

EGWENE: Do you Grays consider the First Treaty of Falme as a job well done?

GRAY: Well ...

EGWENE: Of course, it WAS followed by a war, in due time. The Second Treaty? The Third? The Fourth? What about the Fifth? I hear you were very proud of the Fifth at the time it was signed. That was only a few decades ago, and it must have lasted for, oh, at least three years - long enough for both nations to increase their armies and plan bigger and better campaigns for the NEXT struggle over Almoth Plain ...

GRAY: Special circumstances ... we had no way to enforce the treaty, did we? Getting the leaders of Arad Doman and Tarabon to sign it at all was quite an achievement!

EGWENE: (sweetly) Not if they never meant to keep the treaties, anyway, but were only pretending to be "reasonable" in hopes of causing the other side to relax its guard. Do you REALLY prevent any wars that national leaders are determined to begin, or do you just postpone them for a year or two? What about the endless series of struggles between Tear and Illian? Did the Grays ever manage to achieve a LASTING treaty between those great nations?

GRAY: Er ...

EGWENE: Or perhaps we should consider the chaos that has been the norm in Altara AND Murandy ever since those "nations" were formed a thousand years ago . ...what have the Grays done to bring peace and stability to those regions? I recognize that one can only do so much in a mere ten centuries, but still ...

GRAY: We've TOLD those petty warlords that they would all be much better off with strong central governments instead of constant internal feuding. If they refuse to listen, it's not OUR fault!

EGWENE: Ah! Now I see! So whenever a really nasty war DOES break out, it's not your fault in any way; but whenever you claim to have prevented a war that never actually happened, it goes on the scoreboard as a great victory? In that case, it seems to me that the total score of your "victories" would only be limited by your own imaginations.

GRAY: Mother, I'm afraid you haven't studied enough history yet (being so young and all that) to properly appreciate how badly things COULD have gone if we hadn't -

EGWENE: (overriding her) Setting aside the question of whether or not you have ever "prevented" a war for more than, oh, a couple of years at best, let's discuss the other aspect of your duties: maintaining good diplomatic relations between the Tower and the various other governments between the Dragonwall and the Aryth Ocean.

GRAY: (resignedly) Yes, mother.

EGWENE: Tell me - BEFORE the Dragon Reborn began to mess everything up, how were we doing, politically speaking?

GRAY: (cautiously) The Tower was known and respected across the land, Mother.

EGWENE: For the past thousand years, ever since the Whitecloaks became the real rulers of Amadicia, any Aes Sedai detected within that nation's boundaries has been attacked with lethal intent. And sometimes they come outside their boundaries, looking for us. We even lost an Amyrlin to Whitecloak aggression ... What have the Grays done to improve our relations with Amadicia during those ten centuries?

GRAY: Er ...

EGWENE: The Tairens are almost as bad.

GRAY: Um ...

EGWENE: Nearly EVERY nation has proverbs about Aes Sedai being untrustworthy, about them saying things that don't mean what they seem to mean, about how Aes Sedai don't CARE about the life of the common man, and only obey the laws of the nations they are visiting if it seems convenient ... as our principal representatives abroad, don't you feel a certain obligation to try to correct this bad publicity somehow? At the very least, don't you feel CONCERNED that there are so few people who would feel any obligation to assist the Tower if we ever needed their help?

GRAY: It IS a pity, Mother ...

EGWENE: And how long had the Sea Folk been refusing to grant us passage - us, and ONLY us, whenever they felt like it?

GRAY: Ah ... er ... ever since the Breaking?

EGWENE: That's right. For over 3000 years the Sea Folk made it well known that they could tolerate anyone BUT us on their ships, and what did the Grays do to improve our image with them?

GRAY: But mother, how were we supposed to GET at them? If they didn't want to talk to us, they could just sail away, faster than any other ships we could get our hands on, and trying to land on their home isles would be taken as an act of war!

EGWENE: In three thousand years, an ingenious negotiator would have thought of a way. Written messages, perhaps. Sending one of our Sea Folk Sisters to negotiate with her own kindred. Other possibilities.

GRAY: (resignedly) Perhaps we were too caught up in events closer to home, Mother.

EGWENE: How well did your negotations with Artur Hawkwing go?

GRAY: (sullenly) He was ta'veren also, Mother. He CHEATED!

EGWENE: Amyrlin Bonwhin decided to send emissaries from the Tower to three other nations, persuading them to invade young Hawkwing's homeland of Shandalle, didn't she? Gray Sisters must have carried out her orders in negotiating with his enemies, instead of digging in their heels and warning her of the dangers? After Hawkwing defeated the invaders and went on to conquer most of the known world, Gray Sisters were probably "negotiating" with him, trying to appease him, right up to the point where he got so angry he besieged us for 20 years?

GRAY: Er ... we always did our best to represent the policies agreed upon by the Amyrlin and the Hall, Mother. We did not MAKE foreign policy, we only enacted it.

EGWENE: Well, you certainly won't be making it from now on. For the next five years, if I need any ambassadors I'll pick them out myself. I'm probably going to reassign you to duties as schoolteachers, as part of my new Public Education program. If you Grays actually PROVE, under carefully monitored conditions, that you can keep the peace among dozens of squalling children, THEN I will consider the possibility that you are not totally incompetent at the geopolitical level. In the meantime, you are dismissed. On your way out, send in the Yellow Sister waiting to see me, will you?

[NOTE: The information about the Tower being responsible for three other nations banding together to invade the nation of Shandalle, which Artur ruled by birth, is only found in "The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time," also known as the Guide. Amyrlin Bonwhin was responsible for this catastrophic piece of foreign policy (she didn't like Hawkwing at all), but it seems reasonable to assume that Gray negotiators would have been assigned to persuade people to do her dirty work for her. And after that, they would have been assigned to make peace with Hawkwing when he won anyway, and to try to convince him that the Tower was officially neutral and awful sorry that anybody have ever attacked him. Clearly, it didn't work very well. Bonwhin, a former Red, was the second Amyrlin in history to be deposed and stilled, after the Tower came to blame her for the fact that Hawkwing surrounded their island with a huge army for twenty years.]


Part 3: Yellow Ajah

EGWENE: Sit down, daughter! Tell me, how does your Ajah justify its existence?

YELLOW: (very surprised) But don't you already KNOW, Mother? I mean, one of your best friends is el'Nynaeve Mandragoran!

EGWENE: (patiently) I want to hear it in your own words. What does your Ajah do with itself on a day-to-day basis?

YELLOW: (still a bit confused) Well, we're Healers, of course! It's our custom to Heal anyone who asks for it, provided we don't get overloaded with patients and in danger of burning ourselves out! And let me tell you, we've done a lot more good in the world - and a lot more to build up the good name of Aes Sedai among commoners - than SOME Ajahs I might mention, ones that sit in the Tower all day arguing philosophy or researching trivia in our dusty old archives ... not to name any names, of course!

EGWENE: (thoughtfully) Yes, I have to agree with you there. I remember how grateful Rand al'Thor was when Moiraine Sedai Healed his foster father for him ... first time he had ever seen channeling, you know. It probably made him a lot more receptive to the idea of leaving the Two Rivers with her than he otherwise would have been, which was a good thing. Of course, Moiraine wasn't a Yellow, but the principle is the same: people appreciate seeing the One Power used to help them and their loved ones - and Yellows are the ones most frequently seen using it in that fashion.

[Egwene pauses for a moment, preparing her next question]

EGWENE: How much traveling did Yellow Sisters do before the Tower rebellion and the preparations for the Last Battle forced everyone to change their plans?

YELLOW: Hmm ... well, as you may know, our net of eyes-and-ears across the land is mainly dedicated to gathering and sending to us any reports of outbreaks of plague and pestilence ...

EGWENE: No, I didn't know that!

YELLOW: (shocked tone) What other kind of news would we care about? POLITICS? [she sniffs at the thought of silly people who worry about such sordid things]. Whenever we get reliable reports of a large outbreak of - oh, of breakbone fever, for instance - we send a mission to the afflicted city or region to nip it in the bud before it turns into a national - or even international - epidemic. Usually we take the time to tell the local residents a few things about proper hygiene, as well - bathe regularly, wash your hands before eating, put the outhouse FAR AWAY from the drinking well ... [she shakes her head at the laziness and folly of mankind] If they listened to us, epidemics would be almost impossible, except for the ones carried by mosquitoes and such ...

EGWENE: Ah, I begin to see. That would improve our public relations ...

YELLOW: Also, whenever the Tower mounts a military expedition, or joins in one - such as sending Red and Green Sisters to capture a False Dragon, accompanied by Tower Guards ... traditionally our Ajah has sent some of our Healers along to run the field hospitals and try to patch up as many of those poor soldiers as we can after the fighting is done with ...

EGWENE (nodding) All right, I have that much clear. What about researching new weaves? I still find it a bit odd that in the 3400 years since your Ajah was founded, NO ONE had EVER tried using Fire and Earth in their Healing Weaves - just Air, Water, and Spirit. Until my friend Nynaeve Sedai demonstrated an instinctive talent for doing it that way, I mean to say.

YELLOW: (biting her lip) Well, Mother, you understand that we have long been reluctant to experiment too much with the safety of our patients ... we preferred to stick to the Weaves we knew, or else modify them VERY slightly - but using the same basic ingredients of Air, Water, and Spirit, yes.

EGWENE: There's such a thing as being too conservative, you know. Nynaeve has brought some interesting proposals to me, and I've kicked in a few ideas of my own. She thinks it would be a good idea to establish permanent Hospitals, run by Aes Sedai, in the great cities of our piece of the world - at least one per nation, probably in each capital city.

YELLOW: (muttering names to herself) Arad Doman, Saldaea, Kandor, Arafel, Shienar, Cairhien, Andor, Tarabon, Amadicia, Altara, Ghealdan, Illian, Murandy, Tear, Mayene (if we may count that as a nation) ... the Aiel and the Atha'an Miere have their own channelers, so don't count them ... FIFTEEN nations, a hospital for each?

EGWENE: And one for the new nation of Manetheren, ruled by His Majesty, King Perrin Goldeneyes. Andor has finally abandoned its claim to the land.

YELLOW: (sighing) And of course some of us would have to stay here in Tar Valon - so we'd be split up 17 different ways! (Mumbles numbers for a minute) 340 Sisters ... divide by 17 nations, counting Tar Valon as a nation ... only 20 Sisters to a Hospital ...

EGWENE: Each Hospital will be attached to a great School - I want to establish a system of general education for young people across the world - or as much of it as the Tower has traditionally influenced, at least. One of Nynaeve's ideas is for Yellow Sisters to give instruction on anatomy and healing techniques to young women from each region, regardless of whether or not they can channel ...

YELLOW: (blankly) Healing techniques? But if they can't channel, what can they learn from lectures?

EGWENE: No, healing, without the capital H. (Can't you hear the difference?) Bonesetting and surgery and herbalism ...

YELLOW: (scandalized) HERBALISM? Sisters who have attained the shawl, prattling of common plants and homemade remedies to a bunch of ORDINARY girls instead of letting the village Wisdoms worry about such things?

EGWENE: Nynaeve feels that a central source of such information is LONG overdue in our world - [pause] - and I agree with her. [She gives the Yellow a pointed look.] Of course, if you mean to say that you refuse to accept MY decision ...

YELLOW: (cowed, as she remembers what happened to Elaida after Egwene got her hands on her) Er ... ah ... yes, I suppose something could be done ...

EGWENE: Nynaeve's point is that Yellow Sisters are the best qualified to probe the interior of a patient's anatomy and find out exactly what a herb is DOING for him, and calculate the best amount of each herb to use for the maximum beneficial effect, and so forth, instead of this rough guessing that Wisdoms often indulge in.

YELLOW: (looking thoughtful) You know, Mother, that might actually work ... we could calibrate these things better, and then perhaps people could heal themselves more effectively of minor ailments, and not always come crying to us about it. We'd put together textbooks prescribing half an ounce of willowbark, made into tea, for a baby with a fever, and one ounce for a fever in a child between ages 4 and 8, two ounces between ages 9 and 15, three ounces for 16 and up ... or whatever the ideal proportions turn out to be ...

EGWENE: Yes, I think you have the general idea now ...

YELLOW: (prattling on) We could gather randomly selected herbs from the outdoors, and force-feed them to patients with several different problems at once, to find out (for example) if belladonna is good for heart trouble, or for head injuries, or for digestive disorders ...

EGWENE: Yes, Daughter. You may be excused now -

YELLOW: (oblivious to her as she pictures a comprehensive research program) And if we accidentally poisoned somebody by giving him the wrong herb, or too much of it, we'd have Healers standing by to fix him up again before it did him any PERMANENT damage - it's all in the name of science, after all ...

EGWENE: DAUGHTER!

YELLOW: (waking up from her meditative trance) Yes, Mother?

EGWENE: You may be excused now, to plan for these Hospitals. On your way out, send in the Blue Sister waiting to see me, will you?


[A FEW NOTES ON BACKGROUND

1) The Guide (aka THE WORLD OF ROBERT JORDAN'S WHEEL OF TIME) gave me the info about Yellow eyes-and-ears concentrating on plagues and such, so that the Yellows could travel to the afflicted region and stop it from spreading. I had always felt that Healing was one of the most "practical" and "public-spirited" things Aes Sedai ever did with their power, and this discovery from the Guide about their blocking plagues from expanding only strengthened my opinion on that point.

2) Comments on the size of the Yellow's membership are based on these numbers: Membership of the Aes Sedai as the books start: about 980 (said to be less than a thousand, anyway). With 7 Ajahs it would seem that the "average" Ajah would have approximately 140 members at that time.

3) There are about 1760 Kin in COS. I assume that 1/7 of them (call it 250) will join the Yellows.

4) I assume at least 50 Yellows (a number I pulled out of thin air) will die in, or before, Tarmon Gai'don, this series of posts being set AFTER that.

5) Result: 140 + 250 - 50= 340 Yellows after Tarmon Gai'don, for purposes of discussion. ]


Part 4: Blue Ajah

EGWENE: Sit down, daughter! Tell me - [she breaks off as she sees the Blue raise a hand].

BLUE: Pardon me, Mother, but may I have your permission to ward this room against eavesdroppers?

EGWENE: (resignedly) If it will let you speak more freely.

[Brief pause while the Blue weaves a soundproof shield around the room]

BLUE: Thank you, Mother. It's one of our Ajah's rules : never discuss our private affairs when any outsider could conceivably hear us doing it.

EGWENE: I see. What other special rules does your Ajah have?

BLUE: Let's see ... never explain anything of importance to an outsider, unless, in YOUR opinion, it is important that he know it right away so that he will be able to assist in the fulfillment of your plans.

EGWENE: Even if telling him would make him likelier to trust you?

BLUE: (sniffs) Trust? Trusting is for friends and relatives. Aes Sedai are to be RESPECTED, not "trusted" as if they had to prove their merit to every stupid peasant or insolent monarch. After all, we are bound by the Three Oaths, are we not?

EGWENE: (muttering under her breath) This explains a lot ... [she raises her voice]. So you feel that speaking as elliptically and noncommitally as possible is the best way to get people outside the Tower to do what you want?

BLUE: (very firm) Absolutely! We have to IMPRESS them!

EGWENE: The way we've "impressed" Artur Hawkwing, and the Amadicians, and the Tairens, and even the Ogier, who have an old proverb: "Never deal with an Aes Sedai except inside a stedding; that's the only place they're safe?" Notice the way that the White Tower's idea of "power politics," a thousand years ago, made Hawkwing and his descendants SO angry that they now rule half the world and ENSLAVE women with the spark, to make sure "Aes Sedai" never get the better of them again. Don't you think we came on a little bit TOO strong sometimes?

BLUE: Nonsense! The aberrations of the Seanchan cannot be blamed upon US. As long as we keep the Three Oaths, it is impossible for us to be too "forceful" in our dealings with the world.

EGWENE: (rubbing her aching head) Daughter, do you REALLY think the Three Oaths make people rely upon us to deal with them honestly and nonviolently? It is not exactly secret that an Aes Sedai can send a Warder to kill someone on her behalf, after all ... and then if someone strikes at her Warder in defending himself, the Aes Sedai feels free to "defend" her Warder and assist in the assassination.

BLUE: (firmly) I think you're overrating the dangers, mother. After all, no Aes Sedai has ever been convicted of murder or similar crimes by any non-Tower authority - except in Amadicia, and those Amadicians will believe ANYTHING.

EGWENE: Yes, it would be hard for non-channelers to arrest an Aes Sedai and her Warder ...especially if (for example) a death looked like suicide, the local City Guard not being aware that an Aes Sedai can channel a locked door open, and relock it again, without leaving any scratches on the lock, so that it would seem "certain" to them that no stranger had gotten in and out of the room to put poison in a man's glass, and he must have poisoned it himself.

BLUE: (uneasily) Purely hypothetical, Mother. Such actions are RARELY necessary ...

EGWENE: Perrin Aybara told me of a time when Moiraine Sedai and Lan considered doing it to an innkeeper, merely because he suspected she was Aes Sedai. Matrim Cauthon feared Siuan Sanche would arrange his own demise, so that she could have someone else blow the Horn. To this day, I don't know if she had decided to kill him or not, because he got away from the Tower so quickly, and she can lie to me now. Although she HAS suggested I arrange convenient "accidents" for other people who were "inconvenient." I think you Blues are FAR too eager to dispose of problems by murdering them ...
[A long pause] Tell me, daughter, have YOU ever sent YOUR Warder to murder someone to assist one of your political schemes?

BLUE: (looks offended) Mother! The very idea is insulting!

EGWENE: (mildly) We must all bear with such hardships from time to time. Please answer the question.

BLUE: (outraged) That would be a violation of the laws of whatever land I was in at the time, mother! Such things could have grave consequences for the Tower!

EGWENE: They certainly could, and that's why I want them to stop. FOREVER. I CANNOT approve of murder during my administration, and I need to know if anyone will be bringing such charges against any of our sisters - true charges, that is to say. Have you ever sent your Warder to commit murder?

BLUE: I have never ordered my Warder, nor asked him, to kill anyone whom I did not consider a grave threat to myself, my plans, the peace of the world, and forth.

EGWENE: It's a simple Yes/No question and you seem unable to answer it. Let me make my position QUITE clear: You will answer that question with a Yes or a No, or you will be shielded and placed under house arrest on suspicion of murder until we get to the bottom of this. I don't intend to be the soft, easygoing administrator that Siuan Sanche was, you know; I intend to maintain DISCIPLINE!

BLUE: (winces as she tries to picture what it would take to make Siuan look soft and easygoing) Mother, suppose I were to describe to you a hypothetical situation where a Warder of a Blue Sister killed a Lord in another nation, a Lord who was stubbornly refusing to support a certain policy which would clearly be of great benefit to the people under his rule? You might then agree that "murder" was not the approriate word ...

EGWENE: You had your chance to answer my question , and you preferred to prevaricate. I'll get more use from you now by using you as an example for the others, so that I get a more cooperative attitude.

[There is a brief flare as both embrace saidar; a moment later, the Blue Sister is shielded from the Source. Egwene then tugs on her Warder's bond, pulling him toward her office from the practice yard where he's been instructing some recruits]

GAWYN: (entering the Amyrlin's study with his sword drawn) Egwene? What is it?

EGWENE: Take her away, Gawyn. To be placed under house arrest; an armed guard outside the door of her living quarters. Suspicion of murder. One Green Sister to be with the armed guard at all times, in case anyone tries to channel their way through the guards.

GAWYN: Got it.

EGWENE: Oh, and Gawyn? On your way out, will you send in the Brown Sister who's waiting to see me?

[NOTE: It has always amazed me that the Aes Sedai don't make a habit of asking each other such questions about crimes and secrets and so forth. I suppose they think it's rude. Yet, except for the occasional Black Ajah, it would prove MOST informative. For instance, in LOC, Elayne suspects that many of the things she's learning from Moghedien (about eavesdropping, say, and other stuff) are "secrets" and "tricks" that a FEW Aes Sedai have independently rediscovered, but NEVER told anybody else about. Strong leadership would have forced them to answer questions such as, "X Sedai, do you know ANY weaves that I don't know, and what do they do?"]


Part 5: Brown Ajah

NOTE: This one may not be as funny as some - but I have hopes that the forthcoming treatments of the Greens and the Reds will make up for it.]

[INTRO: Shortly after the Last Battle, Egwene is sitting in the Amyrlin's office in the White Tower, summoning in the head - or some representative of the head - of each Ajah to speak to her.]

EGWENE:: Sit down, daughter! Tell me, how does your Ajah justify its existence?

BROWN: (scribbling in a notebook as she walks into the office; finally looks up vaguely) I beg your pardon, mother? You said something?

EGWENE: (sighing) Yes, I asked you to explain what purpose your Ajah serves ... but first, what is so fascinating that it demanded more of your attention than did your Amyrlin?

BROWN:: Oh, I was just tidying up a few formulae for my next book! My working title for the manuscript is, "Gauging Your Social Status Among Your Fellow Aes Sedai To Within A Tenth Of A Point!"

EGWENE: (closing her eyes for a moment) How DOES one do that?

BROWN: (eagerly) I'll use my own case as an example, Mother. I spent six years as a novice - that's worth 4.4 points - and five more as an Accepted, which is worth 9.2 points, and I have worn the shawl for 138 years, which is worth 27.6 points (the operation for that statistic is very simple; one simply divides the number of years by five), and my strength in the power is in the seventieth percentile, meaning less than 3 Sisters in every 10 are stronger than I am, so that's worth 11.4 points. Also I am a Sitter in the Hall, which is worth a flat 20 points, and within the past two years I have served as the Head of a mission involving at least 5 other Sisters, which means an extra 3.7 points, and the mission was successful, which gives me another 3.3 points (serving as Head of a mission which FAILED, on the other hand, would remove 1.8 points), and I was affiliated with the Salidar contingent of Aes Sedai after the split in the Tower, which has been worth about 7.4 points ever since we were triumphant in reuniting the Tower under your leadership and getting rid of Elaida (if I had been an Elaida supporter, I would have lost 10.8 points when she was defeated, and if I had been a neutral who refused to commit myself until one side had already gained the advantage, I would have lost 3 points in the end, on account of being suspected of a certain weakness of character, but not been viewed with as much suspicion by your supporters as an ex-Elaida-supporter would be). I was the fifth Sister of seven to be called in here, which means I lose 1.5 points for the moment, but on the other hand, the Blue Sister was taken out under armed guard, so if I leave this office under my own power instead of under arrest, the contrast between the two of us will raise my prestige again by 2.2 points. [Egwene clears her throat, and the Brown hurries it up a little ...]

BROWN: Well, I have about 28.4 points accumulated from various other little victories - social, political, scholarly, or what-have-you, and when we put it all together ... [she scribbles numbers and adds them hastily] my current rating is 113.9! 116.1 if I avoid the fate of the Blue representative. What did she do, by the way? It affects her score, you understand.

EGWENE: Never you mind. Let's move back to the main topic: the achievements of your own Ajah.

BROWN: Ah! We dedicate ourselves to scholarly pursuits, the gathering of new knowledge and the retrieving of old knowledge, that sort of thing.

EGWENE: Yes ... I am aware that most of the books in the Tower Library were either written by, or at least gathered by, the Brown Ajah. Although I confess I don't quite understand why it requires the efforts of so many Aes Sedai to do such things, when any literate clerk could seek out books just as well as you can. Channeling is scarcely relevant to the tasks of a researcher or librarian.

BROWN: Trust people who aren't Aes Sedai to do our research for us? To track down books about ter'angreal, and Portal Stones, and ancient Talents, and other things? To translate them from the Old Tongue properly? To share the information with us, and to recognize what is worth studying and what is pure trash? Absurd!

EGWENE: You raise a point about the need for experts to examine documents relating to channeling techniques, at least ... but tell me: when a Brown Sister uncovers something in her studies, how much trouble does she take to publicize it?

BROWN: (shrugging) She writes a report, which is properly catalogued in the Library for future reference.

EGWENE: (slowly, as if tasting the words): Catalogued. The way Corianin Nedeal's notes on the use of a dreaming ter'angreal were catalogued, and then gathered dust, unnoticed, for four hundred years or so before Verin Sedai happened to uncover them?

BROWN: (wincing) We can't read EVERYTHING, Mother. If anyone else had wanted to study Corianin's notes, they could have done so.

EGWENE:: And Verin apparently found, studied, and destroyed the ONLY COPY of her research. Why weren't duplicates made, for safety?

BROWN: Well, mother, I'm afraid all the sisters who were serving in the Library in Corianin's time are long dead, so we may never know ...

EGWENE: How many copies of NEW documents do you make?

BROWN: Er ... if anyone asks for a copy, one can be provided ...

EGWENE: And if no one asks?

BROWN: We're so busy in the Library ... we can't be expected to copy EVERYTHING!

EGWENE: No? I've decided to do exactly that. I want at least 1000 copies of EVERY volume in the Library to be printed up over the next year or so. I'm setting up great Schools in the capitol cities of 16 nations (plus one right here in Tar Valon), and twenty copies of every volume or scroll will serve as the nucleus of the Great Library of each School. That accounts for 340 copies ... the rest will be donated to the great libraries already existing in various parts of the world - royal palaces and the like - as well as endowing a library at Rhuidean, and another on Tremalking, for the edification of our dear friends, the Wise Ones and the Windfinders. Leftovers will be stored in various places until we find a use for them.

BROWN: (gaping) A thousand copies of EVERYTHING, mother?

EGWENE: I've instructed the Keeper to hire an army of woodcutters to start chopping down as much of Haddon Mirk as we will require, and to ship the lumber to Tear where the printing will be done year round. Nobody lives in Haddon Mirk anyway, so what difference does it make? [Her voice grows warmer] Of course, it will require real experts to get each new library properly catalogued so that teachers and students of the Schools can find any text they need without searching through a hundred other bookcases before they hit the right one ... perhaps making sure everything is sorted in alphabetical order by the author's last name?

BROWN: (Getting a dreamy look as she ponders the task of sorting out all those libraries) Actually, that was the system used when our own Library was first built here in Tar Valon, mother, but it has serious shortcomings. All the books by "Author Unknown" end up lumped together in the A section, for instance, no matter what the subject matter. Research into the oldest writings has revealed that in the Age of Legends, or perhaps even the Age before that, there were at least two popular systems which tried to group books together by SUBJECT, rather than simply by Author. One was called ... the Du'ee Des'imal, I believe, and the other was the Lai Brariov Kong'res.

EGWENE: Really? Which system was adopted for our own Library here?

BROWN: Neither, of course! We never could agree on which was better, and besides, our Library already HAD a system! We set up a card file to cross-index things, of course, but that was the best we could do.

EGWENE: (rubbing her aching head again) Daughter, you mean to say that for over three thousand years you (meaning the Brown Ajah as an entity) have known we had an inefficient system of organization in our Library, and that better alternatives were available, but that you never did anything about it?

BROWN: Er ... that's about right, Mother. But we can fix it now! We could categorize half the libraries according to one system, and half according to the other, and see which worked better! Or perhaps split eacn individual library into two sections, one for each system, and see which one people found preferable in doing their research! Or even ...

EGWENE: (hastily) You are EXCUSED, daughter! Send in the Green Sister next, will you?

[NOTES on things referred to, or assumed, in this conversation:

1) Numeric values for various aspects of one's social standing among the Aes Sedai were invented by me from thin air. If you try to calculate the relative standings of Jordan's AS characters based on my numbers, you'll go nuts. Of course, the rest of us might not notice the difference if you did, but I figured I ought to warn you :)

2) I really don't know if Randlanders make their paper from trees yet, or if they still use earlier recipes that weren't dependent upon heavy-duty lumbering, but I assumed they use trees for the sake of argument :)

3) On the subject of conflicting systems of classifying books and documents: The main library of the University of Florida in Gainesville, where two of my sisters are currently enrolled, has archives of magazines - decades' worth of them, in some cases, bound in volumes - on the second floor. Half of them are organized in the Lai Brariov Kong'res system and half in the Du'ee Des'imal system. It has tens of thousands of books on the third and fourth floors. The third floor (I think) has all its books sorted according to the Du'ee Des'imal approach, and the fourth has them sorted according to the Lai Brariov Kong'res system. Meaning that if you want to examine and compare all available editions of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (for instance), half will be on one floor and half will be on the other. I have visited that library several times, and I STILL can't believe they couldn't decide on one system or the other, and then stick to it, in the forty years or more that this campus library has existed. I merely applied the idea to this imaginary conversation :)]


Part 6: Green Ajah

EGWENE: Sit down, Daughter! Tell me, how does your Ajah justify its existence?

GREEN: We are the Battle Ajah, mother! We devoted ourselves to preparing for Tarmon Gai'don by training in the military uses of the One Power as best we could (considering the limitations imposed by the Three Oaths), and Green Sisters often spent time in the Borderlands, helping their soldiers drive back Trollocs and Myrdraal when they came out of the Blight.

EGWENE: Hmmm. Yes, and that's also why you have so many Warders?

GREEN: Well ... that's part of it. After all, even our strongest sisters need someone to watch their backs while they channel at a particular target. Or to keep watch while they sleep, and so forth. As the Battle Ajah, we use up Warders more frequently than most ... I could name you Greens in the Tower right now who have each seen at least five of their Warders die in battle over the years.

EGWENE: Yes. But tell me - your Ajah has a reputation for being more "intimate" with Warders than most. Is that really necessary? It seems to inspire some dirty jokes in the minds of the common people, when they hear a boy wants to be Warder.

GREEN: Necessary? It's VITAL to the Warder Training Program! The way we see it, Mother, hardly ANY Sister would be able to find a properly trained Warder if not for our Ajah!

EGWENE: Beg pardon?

GREEN: Mother, do you really think adventurous young men travel to Tar Valon with the ambition of becoming a Warder for a Brown and watching her search through dusty old manuscripts, or for a Yellow and standing around twiddling their thumbs while she Heals people? Of course not! The vast majority of candidates come because of all the rousing stories they've heard about fabled Green Sisters of breathtaking beauty and great courage, who hunt down Shadowspawn and Darkfriends and engage them in duels to the death no matter how bad the odds! And of course ... (she blushes slightly) it is commonly known that there are certain ... fringe benefits in being the Warder of a Green Sister, a woman who will stay young and - well, shall we say, young and ENERGETIC? - for a VERY long time. It's not like marrying some girl back home who will start acquiring wrinkles and gray hair and so forth within a couple of decades. And these ... fringe benefits ... are not always available with sisters of other Ajahs, but we Greens carefully ensure that the only young women who join our ranks are women with a, ah, strong affection for good men! Our Warders NEVER need feel neglected.

EGWENE: Ah ... I think I see your point. But not all candidates can BECOME Warders of Greens, after all ...

GREEN: True enough, mother! Even men can gradually grow wiser as they grow older, if you just teach them properly and wait long enough for it to sink in. As they adapt to the stern regimen of Tower Training, they begin to see that there are more important things in life than having a close relationship with an ageless woman ... more important than the opportunity to kill a Trolloc every day before breakfast, even! They begin to see some of the scope of the manifold activities of the sisters of the various Ajahs, and how each plays it part in making the world a better place, and how sisters DO need protection - even when they are supposedly in "civilized" nations. They have access to the Tower Library and acquire a deeper understanding of the world ... and many of them decide that being Warder to a Green is not what will best suit them. But they only outgrow their adolescent dreams AFTER those dreams have already carried them to the Tower, you understand.

EGWENE: Ah. So you Greens are the lure that pulls in the fish close enough for the hook to sink into its flesh.

GREEN: Something like that ... and of course there's our recycling program for Warders.

EGWENE: Beg pardon?

GREEN: We encourage some of our sisters to take care of Warders whose first Aes Sedai have died, to try to save them from the suicidal depression that accompanies the snapping of the bond. Myrelle Sedai, for example, has had success with two - or even three, if you count her brief tenure as the caretaker of al'Lan Mandragoran after his bond with Moiraine was broken during her time in another world ... (she sees Egwene's glare at the reminder of the way Lan was treated by Moiraine and Myrelle, and hastily changes the subject). But the point is, we are always trying to save them! And since no other Ajah accepts more than one Warder per sister at a time, it's usually up to us to make the effort! There are several Warders alive right now who survived Tarmon Gai'don even though their sisters did not, and we're trying to coax them into second bondings ...

EGWENE: Daughter, that reminds me of something I've always meant to ask you. Logically, each Green ought to have a horde of children running around after she's been, er, bonded to one or more Warders for a number of years ... but this doesn't seem to happen. Why not?

GREEN: Mother, have you ever tried to fight a battle while seven months pregnant? Tired, prone to mood swings, heavier and less agile than you would like to be, desperately concerned that TWO lives might be lost if anyone kills you, instead of just one? Or even afraid that all the stress might send you into an early labor at the WORST possible time?

EGWENE: Er, no. I've never had that experience, come to think of it.

GREEN: Our ancient records show it doesn't work very well. Early in our Ajah's history, it was decided that the Battle Ajah must always be ready for battle at a moment's notice, and that "ready" meant not pregnant. So ... we do not permit our bodies to become pregnant. Period. After all, we could hardly expect the Dark One to publish a calendar of when his next major offensive would occur, could we?

EGWENE: So you use some exotic weave I never heard of before?

GREEN: A thing of the Power, yes. I wouldn't know if you had ever heard of it before ...

EGWENE: Well, that clears up that question. Now tell me, daughter, what do the Greens intend to do now that Tarmon Gai'don has finally been won?

GREEN: Well, mother, there are still the Seanchan to cope with. Something has to be done about all those poor women they have in collars. And there are the Asha'man ... we simultaneously want to A) practice linking with them, and exploring new aspects of channeling that were never available when we could only use saidar, and B) Prepare to fight them at a moment's notice, if necessary, because frankly, we don't trust them as far as we could throw them. They are arguably the biggest threat we have on the map today.

EGWENE: Threat? What have they done?

GREEN: (very firmly) Nothing, except to demonstrate that (as we had feared would be the case) the "average" male channeler has a potential strength much greater than that of the "average" female channeler. In military parlance, when we talk of a "threat estimate" it refers to how much damage a particular organization COULD do to us if it wanted to, regardless of whether or not we think they WANT to do it right away. So: they are the most powerful organization we know of, hence the biggest threat.

EGWENE: Isn't that a tad paranoid?

GREEN: It's our duty to ALWAYS be ready for battle, mother. With ANYONE.

EGWENE: What would you say to a plan to integrate the Asha'man into the Tower and make the Aes Sedai an organization of both genders, as it was in the beginning?

GREEN: (gasps) LET THEM INTO THE TOWER? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?

EGWENE: (sighs) That's what I thought you'd say. You are dismissed,daughter. On your way out, send in the Red Sister who's waiting to see me, will you?


Part 7: Red Ajah

[INTRO: Shortly after the Last Battle, Egwene is sitting in the Amyrlin's office in the White Tower, summoning in the head - or some representative of the head - of each Ajah to speak to her.]

EGWENE: Sit down, daughter! Tell me, how does your Ajah justify its existence?

RED: (sniffs slightly) The question, mother, might more properly be put as, "How do the others, saving only the Greens, justify THEIRS?" Do THEY hunt down each and every report of a male channeler? Do THEY send expeditions to deal with False Dragons when mundane armies prove incapable of overcoming powerfulchanneling? Do THEY use their channeling where it can really do some GOOD in the world -"

EGWENE: (raising one hand) Calm down! As a matter of fact, I strongly sympathize with your position.

RED: (blinks) You do?

EGWENE: I am freely prepared to admit that the Red Ajah did ten times as much good for the world, measured in terms of lives saved, destruction averted, and so forth, than any other Ajah, up through the captures of the False Dragons Mazrim Taim and Logain Ablar, at least.

RED: (collapses into a chair, looking remarkably confused) Is this a joke, mother?

EGWENE: Not at all. I shudder to think of a world where Guaire Amalasan and Yurian Stonebow and their ilk had been more successful in their attempts to rule everything - followed, inevitably, by their going stark raving mad and Breaking the World - or select portions of it - all over again. It was undoubtedly your Ajah who took the leading role in preventing such tragedies.

RED: (staring at her suspiciously, as she says things no non-Red Amyrlin has ever said before) It's nice to be appreciated, mother. After 3400 years, I might even say it's overdue.

EGWENE: Of course, I think your Ajah HAS had three - no, make that four - minor flaws in its outlook.

RED: (relaxing) That's good to hear. For a moment, I thought you must be an impostor who was trying to charm me. I was ready to demand to know what you had done with the REAL Egwene al'Vere!

EGWENE: (smiles politely) One: your natural dislike for male channelers was taken to ridiculous extremes, i.e. unnecessary suspicion of ALL males. The death toll of Reds killed in battle might have been lower if they had been permitted to have Warders around to protect their backs ... Two: if the three Reds who have become Amyrlins (and have all been deposed thereafter) are to be taken as strong evidence of the nature of the rest of the Red sisters (the Red in the chair tenses as this subject is raised), you people are so rigid in thinking that you are absolutely right and anyone with different opinions is absolutely wrong that you make ABYSMAL politicians. A successful Amyrlin needs to be able to see the other person's point of view without losing her temper. Three: as near as I can tell, your Ajah had NEVER planned ahead for the problem of how you were going to recognize the Dragon Reborn when you found him, instead of gentling him by mistake.

RED: (eager to defend her Ajah) Oh, we had thought it through VERY carefully, mother! We had decided that the best thing we could do was take no special precautions to identify the Dragon Reborn?

EGWENE: I beg your pardon?

RED: As near as we have been able to determine over the past 3000 years, the prophecies of the Karaethon Cycle will always come true. ALWAYS. And a great number of those prophecies describe a variety of distinctive things that the Dragon Reborn will do, most notably retrieving Callandor from the Heart of the Stone ofTear. This meant that nothing we ever did could POSSIBLY kill him or gentle him before he seized Callandor - and once he had the Sword That Is Not A Sword in his hands, it would be extremely obvious who he really was, we calculated. This meant that everytime we DID gentle a male channeler, we had PROVED he was NOT the Dragon Reborn! We were eliminating possible competitors, and trusting in the Pattern to weave things to protect him properly!

EGWENE: (looking very crosseyed as she tries to untangle that logic. She rubs her aching temples vigorously before responding): Um ... I had no idea you saw things that way. Frankly, I don't think ANYONE outside your Ajah knew you had thought it through from that ... unique ... perspective.

RED: (shrugging) When Elaida tried to kidnap Rand al'Thor, we went along with it quietly. We figured that if the attempt succeeded, then it meant that the Pattern would permit him to fulfill the rest of the prophecies while under our thumb, which seemed a good idea - and that if it was NOT feasible for him to fulfill his destiny, then the attempt would fail - as in fact it did.

EGWENE: Oh. So you're saying that many of your Ajah felt Elaida's idea to kidnap the man we needed to save the human race was idiotic, but it wasn't your problem to fix it, it was the PATTERN's problem, so there was no need to risk your precious necks by interfering? Especially when you had finally managed to elect a Red Amyrlin for the first time in a thousand years, and didn't want to make waves by publicly criticizing her after you elected her?

RED: (looking affronted) That's NOT what I said, mother!

EGWENE: (muttering under her breath) Not QUITE ... (louder) Which reminds me, though. Haven't the Reds traditionally done much of the Tower's recruiting of young girls? Keeping an eye out for possible saidar channelers in your travels across the map, searching for male channelers?

RED: (looking confused at the change of subject) Yes ...

EGWENE: I am wondering if I should turn your recruiting duties over to some other Ajah. You did well at finding male channelers, but now that saidin has been cleansed, that isn't really an issue anymore. And as to finding girls to be novices... (she shakes her head) Frankly, I find your performance VERY disappointing.

RED: (protesting vigorously) But mother! We've brought in more recruits than any other Ajah -

EGWENE: I can't help thinking you just brought in such possible recruits as you happened to stumble across without really trying. Please prepare a written report, sealed to the Flame, explaining precisely why, after 3400 years of your Ajah's existence, Red "recruiters" had NOT known that the Sea Folk Windfinders could channel, had NOT known any details about the Aiel Wise Ones, had NOT visited the land of the Two Rivers (near as I can tell) in 2000 years and thus were not aware that several of our Wisdoms could channel and were finding apprentices who could do the same from a wide possible selection, due to our Old Blood being so strong ... please cover all that in your report, and if your explanations are satisfactory, I will consider keeping you on as the Recruiting Ajah. Otherwise I may have to disband you now that your principal reason for existing - tracking down male channelers before they go stark raving mad - no longer means anything. Dismissed!

[NOTES:

There is no reference here to the "vileness" which occurred after the Aiel War, which was first mentioned in COS. It may or may not relate to the claim by Alviarin that the Reds have gentled a lot more male channelers in the last several years than the official Tower Records show. Since I don't know what all this is about, I've decided to ignore it in my post-Tarmon Gai'don dialogues.

The Red's point about predestination - the idea that Rand was "fated" to live long enough to seize Callandor, to fight Tarmon Gai'don, etc., seems to me a very strong one. Jordan's prophecies (Foretellings, Min's Viewings, etc.) apparently ALWAYS come true UNLESS they are specifically stated to be "maybes" or "branching prophecies" of some sort. In other words, Rand has never been in any REAL danger of dying before Tarmon Gai'don. Logical? Or not?]


Part 8: The Hall

[WARNING: While humor is not entirely absent from this post and the next, it is not quite so prevalent as it once was. Some serious reforms are being considered here, and in addition, I have to lay some groundwork for the Surprise Ending coming up in Part 9, the Grand Finale. Sorry, but that's the way it is. The overall tone of this series of posts is naturally supposed to be taken as humorous/satiric, since I don't really think the events described in it will EVER happen in the books, no matter how obviously such reforms are needed :) ]

[INTRO: Shortly after the Last Battle, Amyrlin Egwene has privately interviewed the Head or a Sitter from each Ajah (since the identity of the Heads is kept very secret) in her office, and has laid out the framework for a comprehensive program to renovate each Ajah from top to bottom in the wake of changing circumstances (for instance, saidin is no longer tainted, so hunting down male channelers is not the top priority it once was). Aside from the Blue representative being placed under house arrest for failing to answer Egwene's questions, the interviews went FAIRLY well ...

We now open a day later, as Amyrlin Egwene is addressing a full assembly of the Hall, 21 Sitters and her Keeper. Egwene is giving the annual State of the Tower address with which an Amyrlin customarily sets the stage for the coming year of the legislative process. Egwene, naturally, is accompanied to the Hall by her new Keeper, the one she picked out after Sheriam died at Tarmon Gai'don. The Keeper is an obscure character, a former Green and an ex-Elaida-supporter, was chosen largely for political reasons, to keep the other 300 ex-Elaida-supporters from feeling like they would never get any respect from this uppity teenage Amyrlin. The Keeper won't have any dialogue in this installment. In fact, the first half of this post is simply Egwene's State of the Tower address (an old Aes Sedai tradition requires the Amyrlin to give such an Address to the assembled Hall at the beginning of each new year)]

EGWENE: Attention! After a great deal of meditation on the matter, as well as personal interviews with representatives of each Ajah, I have decided that some drastic changes must be made in the way we do business around here.

Our Ajah will be opening up branch offices in the capitol cities of 16 nations - each branch will include a Hospital, a Great School for teaching young people in advanced subjects such as healing, engineering, and so forth - and a VERY active recruiting bureau. The Seanchan have a few good ideas, such as testing every single girl they find at regular intervals, so they identify every potential channeler.

Each Ajah will be expected to subdivide itself into 17 sections so that each Branch is fully staffed. Allocation of Duties: The Reds will handle the recruiting, the Grays will teach basic literacy and arithmetic to young children in exchange for set fees from their parents, the Browns will concentrate on running the extensive libraries (I intend for each Branch Library to contain ALL the material found in our own Tower Library, with dozens of copies of each volume available for lending to students), the Yellows will naturally run the local hospital and assist in teaching classes about mundane healing techniques to deserving young women, the Greens will - for the moment - be assigned to providing security (with the aid of their warders) in case any misguided persons try to attack our branch offices (and the Greens have also assured me that they will try to step up the Warder Recruiting program in each city, to help us find young men who can be trained in the Warder Program as quickly as possible so that our 1760 Sisters formerly of the Kin will a talent pool to draw upon in selecting their own Warders), the Whites shall concentrate on teaching logic, mathematics, and other intellectual subjects to the advanced students. I expect them to master the new technological advances provided by the School in Cairhien endowed by Rand al'Thor as quickly as possible - particular this "Steam Engine" thing, which I suspect has more merit than meets the eye.

As for the Blues ...

[There is a long pause]

There are some weighty issues to be settled before I can decide on their final disposition. It appears that in past years, many Blues have been wont to roam the world as they will, meddling in politics whenever the whim takes them, possibly on the orders of the Head of their Ajah and sometimes not even that, and almost never coordinating their efforts with the Amyrlin and the Hall. This will have to stop.

I fully intend to have the unanimous support of the Hall in executing these programs, even if that means I have to dismiss some of you and arrange for replacements. In addition, there are some other proposals I wish you to consider, although no action will be taken at this time:

First Proposal: Recent events, some but not all of them triggered by the Black Ajah, have caused many people to become very much aware of the fact that the Three Oaths do not really prevent any Aes Sedai from committing cold-blooded murder. I propose that we amend this problem by insisting every Sister swear to a new oath - not on the Oath Rod, but by her hope of salvation and rebirth - saying, "I shall not kill any human being, nor order nor request that a human life be taken by my Warder or any other person, except when it is in defense of my own life from a deadly threat, or the life of my warder, or as part of a legal execution after the condemned has had a fair trial under the laws of whatever land I may be travelling in at the time. Nor shall I withhold any relevant information I may have about the violent death of another human being when the proper authorities of the area in which the murder occurred ask me what I know about it."

[Well aware that Blue and Red Sitters in particular are GLARING at her, Egwene moves on to the next point, apparently unbothered by their hatred of her proposed change in Aes Sedai procedures.]

Second Proposal: It is time that the Tower encouraged its members to have children. I propose we appoint a committee to examine issues of daycare centers, maternity leave, inheritance law, and setting up testing programs to ascertain whether or not any given child of an Aes Sedai is capable of learning to channel.

Third Proposal: No matter how much we may wish it, the Asha'man aren't going to go away. I want to hear suggestions on how we can develop a permanent working relationship with them, even if (shudder) Logain Ablar remains in his post as their new M'hael.

These are things which MUST be attended to, daughters. The world is changing and if the Amyrlin and the Hall do not change along with it, the changes shall be forced upon us by a discontent membership.

Consider, daughters, that I was raised Amyrlin by the Hall in Exile, and have since been confirmed in that position by the Hall Reunited, and that you ...

[INTERLUDE, while Egwene and her Keeper sweep out regally. Egwene is on her way back to the Amyrlin Tower which Elaida began and Egwene has finished, by dint of prevailing upon her good friend Loial to convince a bunch of other Ogier to help finish it.

Inside the Hall, the 20 Sitters (one Blue Sitter has been confined to quarters, see Part 4 for details) are looking at one another with a rare degree of unanimity in their expressions.

The Sitters of the Green Ajah will be referred to in this wise:
GrAlpha, GrBeta, GrGamma (Alpha is most senior Sitter, Gamma is least Senior).
The other Ajahs are BlAlpha, BrAlpha, WhAlpha, GrayAlpha, RdAlpha, YeAlpha, etc. (Blue, Brown, White, Gray, Red, Yellow, in that order).]

GrayAlpha: (shaking her head in disbelief) Where did that girl learn to "negotiate?" Does she really think we're going to throw away 3400 years of hallowed traditions just because she thinks she knows how to run the Tower better than all the Amyrlins before her put together?

RdAlpha: (loyally) Even Elaida never went that far!

[17 Non-Red Sitters glare at RdAlpha, and she shuts up rather suddenly.]

BrAlpha: (wistfully) The idea of branching out with a regional headquarters in each nation's capital isn't entirely bad. Why, the opportunities to raid each Royal Library would be marvellous if our Sisters didn't have to keep commuting back to the Tower at regular intervals for conferences and things. And even if that DOES become necessary - if we just made sure that each branch at least at 3 or 4 Sisters who were strong enough to open a Gateway, we could commute in the twinkling of an eye, instead of (shudder) riding or sailing for 2000 miles each way, as we formerly had to do.

GrAlpha: Oh, I agree that establishing a PERMANENT presence in each nation's capital is an excellent idea. Now that Amadicia is ruled by Lord Captain Commander Galadedrid Damodred of the Whitecloaks, we can even prevail upon his sister to prevail upon him to let us into their boundaries for the first time in their nation's history. But THAT GIRL'S [meaning Egwene's] ideas of WHY we should have bases of operations in each nation is ludicrous.

WhAlpha: Agreed! Teaching? Teaching MUNDANE persons? As I tried to explain to her (in my most tactful manner of course, which was utterly WASTED on her!), mundanes never LIVE long enough to properly understand ANY important subject! No, you need at least fifty years of fieldwork and study of basic theory before you can really be an expert on something, and most mundanes are lucky if they live that long!

YeAlpha: (only half listening) Having permanent hospitals in each nation COULD improve our popularity, and Light knows, after all that nonsense last wear with the Tower splitting down the middle, it's about time we refurbished our image.

BlBeta: The principal advantage of having permanent bases across the map would the opportunity to more effectively meddle - ahem! [she clears her throat] - to take advantage of DAILY opportunities to properly guide various aristocrats into making the PROPER decisions.

[NOTE: BlBeta spoke immediately after the six other Alphas because, as the senior Blue Sitter present in the Hall, her prestige is currently a notch above all other Betas, since BlAlpha is under house arrest elsewhere. However, she is not QUITE at the Alpha level, and so she had to wait for those six ladies to speak before she dared say a word. The pecking order among Sitters is STRICLY enforced, and now the other Betas will have a chance to say their piece.]

WhBeta: The problem is, as near as I can tell, we don't actually have just cause to depose Amyrlin Egwene at this time. We'll just have to pull the old tried and true method of referring everything to committee for further study for the next sixty years, except such aspects of her plans as we can bend to the proper purpose.

RdBeta: Actually, opening up these bases ought to weaken such power as she has.

YeBeta: I think you are all overlooking something. She's likely to live longer than even the youngest of us by at least 450 years!

GrayBeta: Beg pardon?

YeBeta: We have determined from our records of novices and Accepted who were cast out of the Tower, and the dates thereof, that the Kin are telling the truth - their strongest channelers live to an age of 400 or more, and Egwene is stronger than their strongest. And she's only 19 years old now ... I think a lifespan of another 450 years is a sound estimate.

GrBeta: But - but - that would mean the Oath Rod actually DOES shorten lifespans! [She looks horrified, as if feeling her own life oozing out through her fingers and down the drain forever.]

BlGamma: That raises an interesting point. Egwene has never sworn on the Oath Rod, and that means that her avowed reasons for these various "reforms" and "improvements" are not necessarily her TRUE reasons.

RdGamma: Ah ... [a smirk.] You suggest she does not even have the best interests of the Tower at heart?

GrGamma: Splitting our powerbase seventeen different ways? Leaving us wide open for a concerted attack of raving Asha'man to attack us in each city, wipe us out, and move on the next city before we can learn what has happened? I warned her at the Last Battle, I did, "Mother (I said to her, said I), I suggest we teach the Balefire weave to every Sister strong enough to learn and instruct them that as soon as we are convinced that the Dark One is done for, we shall give a signal which will mean 'BALEFIRE THOSE PESKY ASHA'MAN OUT OF EXISTENCE RIGHT NOW!' They're too dangerous to live, I said! THEY'RE STRONGER THAN WE ARE AND WE CAN'T TRUST THEM!" Those were my very words! But would she listen? Oh no, those amateur armchair generals always think they know more about how a War ought to be run than us veterans who have stood at Tarwin's Gap many a time, or other places along the Blight, killing Myrdraal and Trollocs all day and all night (if our strength lasted) ...

[GrAlpha makes a slight gesture with one hand, and GrGamma shuts up abruptly, dimly aware that she's getting monotonous.]

WhGamma: Logically, it is quite possible that her heart belongs to some other loyalty before the Tower. She never even served a proper novitiate in which to be properly brainwashed- I mean to say, properly INDOCTRINATED in the importance of forsaking all outside ties. And she only spent a brief time as an Accepted in the Tower before being sent off on some ridiculous mission to hunt down Black Ajah singlehanded - with the help of two equally untrained friends, that is to say.

YeGamma: [looking very young and confused (after all, she's not even 80 years old yet)] But isn't she just proposing that we find more ways to serve the people of this continent now that the Last Battle is no longer an issue? And isn't the very name Aes Sedai supposed to mean "Servants of All?"

[19 other Sitters all glare at her, and she shuts up and looks very meek and woebegone.]

GrayGamma: Perhaps we could negotiate with her to make her see reason ... but to really negotiate properly, one needs a club held in reserve, the threat of which hangs over the conversation beneath the polite offers and counteroffers ... and we have no such club, not under Tower Law, at least ... and of course, we don't want to split the Tower with another trumped-up case meant to depose an Amyrlin with charges that insinuate she is a Black Sister when we don't really know her to be anything of the kind ...

ALL: [In chorus] A trumped-up case? Never that! [They all pause to put one hand on their bosoms and gaze piously heavenward, as if calling upon the Creator to witness their utter rectitude.]

BrGamma: A Club? [She rummages in a carrying case and pulls out a notebook.] You know, Sisters, I've been collecting eyewitness accounts from all of the persons who were, shall we say, closest to the CENTER of events in the rise to power of Rand al'Thor and other things which laid the way for our victory at Tarmon Gai'don, and there were one or two VERY curious points about the comportment of Egwene al'Vere ...

ALL: Tell us! Tell us! TELL US! [They all gather around BrGamma, eyes bright with excitement and mouths full of good cheer, as they smell the sweet scent of a wounded Amyrlin's political blood spreading out into the murky waters of Tower politics.]

BrGamma: Well, we begin in the spring of 999 NE, as Verin Sedai was escorting Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve back to the Tower after the Dragon Reborn had driven back the Seanchan from their first invasion of Toman Head ... [her voice seems to fade away as the scene ends.]


Part 9: The Amyrlin

INTRO: After her laying down the law to the Hall, explaining her new laws and programs, Egwene and her Keeper are in her private study, chatting over a nice cup of tea.]

KEEPER: But WHAT can you do, Mother, if all the Hall decides to dig in their heels and defy your will in these changes?

EGWENE: [very smugly] More than anyone suspects. I never held the Oath Rod, Beldeine!

BELDEINE: Gasp!

SOUND EFFECT: KKKAAABBBOOOOOOOOMMMM!

[The door bursts open as 21 Sitters, including BlAlpha, now liberated from her confinement, storm into the room, each one with her shawl proudly drawn about her shoulders. Before Egwene can do more than reach for saidar, she is shielded and blocked from the Source. Ditto Beldeine, who isn't a very strong channeler anyhow.]

RdAlpha: [as she reaches for the Amyrlin's stole on Egwene's shoulders] You will not need this. You were never fit for it, anyway.

BlAlpha: HOLD IT! You know what we agreed - first we talk, THEN we take the stole away from the spoiled brat!

RedAlpha: [sulkily] Oh, all right, but let's not take all day about it!

EGWENE: You must be mad! [she rasps] All of you! I'll have your hides for this!

WhAlpha: Logically, Mother, you should only be calling attention to our own irregular behavior if you are QUITE certain that YOUR past actions can stand the closest scrutiny without embarrassment.

EGWENE: Come again?

GrAlpha: What she means to say is, you shouldn't call attention to your MOST VULNERABLE area. Terrible strategy.

EGWENE: How am I vulnerable?

BrGamma: (Reading from her notebook) Testimony of Verin Sedai: As we approached Tar Valon, those foolish girls (meaning, in context, Egwene al'Vere, Elayne Trakand, and Nynaeve al'Meara) began setting off explosions in the earth in order to scare off some pesky Whitecloaks, and I told them afterward, QUOTE: When you become Aes Sedai- if you ever become full Aes Sedai! -you will be bound to obey the Three Oaths, but even novices are expected to do their best to live as if already bound. UNQUOTE. In another interview, Siuan Sanche admitted that in discussion with these three, Nynaeve Sedai explicitly stated, QUOTE I assure you, we will do our best to live as if we had taken the Three Oaths.UNQUOTE. Egwene and Elayne were both right there and did not contradict Nynaeve's assertion, so they were giving "silent consent" to the idea that they would also abide by the commitment to obey the Three Oaths before holding the Rod.

EGWENE: [she feels sick to her stomach, but is doing an admirable job of keeping it off her face] And?

BrGamma: [flipping to another page] Statement of the Accepted Nicola, and her friend, the Hunter Areina. QUOTE We heard Thom Merrilin and Juilin Sandar talking about how much trouble Elayne and Nynaeve might get into if the real Aes Sedai found out they had been PRETENDING to be full Sisters! UNQUOTE.
Statement of an Aiel who was present at Rhuidean when Rand al'Thor and friends arrived there via Portal Stone: QUOTE The two women of the White Tower introduced themselves as Moiraine Sedai of the Blue Ajah and Egwene Sedai of the Green Ajah. UNQUOTE. This statement was confirmed by asking ten other Aiel who were present at the time, and they all agreed on the essential point.

[Long silence.]

EGWENE: [forcing a smile] Well, Siuan Sanche, when she sent us out hunting Black Sisters without a real Sister to guide us, KNEW we would have to let people think we were Sisters. We were practically under ORDERS to do so!

GreenAlpha: [very skeptically] Yeah, right.

BrGamma: [opening another notebook] Statements of every single Red Sister, except a bare handful, such as Galina, who were secretly Black: QUOTE I know nothing of any plot to train Logain to be a more dangerous False Dragon. I am firmly of the opinion that no such plot ever existed within the Red Ajah. UNQUOTE.

EGWENE: (Looking blank) So?

BrGamma: Well, I thought that was interesting, combined with something I just happened to overhear Gareth Bryne say to Siuan Sanche as he was proposing marriage to her after the Last Battle -

EGWENE: [sharply] How did you happen to overhear that?

BrGamma: [with perfect composure] I was practicing the newfangled eavesdropping weave, of course! I distinctly heard Bryne say to her, "Listen, you little fool, OF COURSE I love you! Remember when I caught up with you in Salidar and found out you were really Siuan Sanche, former Amyrlin? Remember how I had stood right there in Andor and saw you look me straight in the eye and state that your name was Mara Tomanes? As soon as I thought it over, I realized that being stilled must have freed you from the Three Oaths! But did I ever share that insight with all those other Aes Sedai and make them suspicious of everything you said? No, I did not! Because I WANTED you to keep yourself happy with whatever fiendish plots you were hatching in your clever little head! I'm such an old softie ... "

[Very long, strained pause.]

BrGamma: This revelation about Siuan's release from the Oaths opened up some FASCINATING vistas of speculation. For instance, the ONLY evidence we had that the Reds ever trained Logain to be a False Dragon was based on two sources: Siuan's claim that she had reason to believe it, and Logain's eventual claims to the same effect. But Logain is a False Dragon and scarcely a reliable witness, and if Siuan could have been lying all along ... then she was trying to slander the good name of a sincere (if somewhat extremist) group of Sisters!

EGWENE: [weakly] I'm sure it was all just a misunderstanding ...

RdBeta: [vindictively] And Siuan became your closest adviser after you were raised - don't think we didn't notice! - and she would have told you what was what, I should hope. Mother, are you prepared to swear by your hope of salvation and rebirth that you believed the Logain as a Red Puppet story, and that Siuan never told you otherwise? For that matter, are you prepared to SWEAR that you had no complicity in Logain's escape from our clutches? It was awfully convenient, the way that just happened to become possible as we were about to go ahead and kill the beast!

[Another long silence. VERY long. Unquestionably the Sitters are giving Egwene plenty of time to catch her breath and swear her innocence in the Logain matter, if she can. Someone finally breaks the silence.]

RdBeta: [smirking] At last my Ajah's good name is cleared!

BrGamma: Statement of Sheriam Sedai, gasping out her last words to a friend at Tarmon Gai'don, before she died from having channeled more power than she could safely handle: QUOTE: That al'Vere girl ... blackmailed my little 'circle' into swearing oaths of fealty to her ... PERSONAL fealty and absolute obedience! It could turn our lovely little tower into an absolute dictatorship ... if she continues to take such oaths from EVERYONE ... you must stop her! UNQUOTE.

EGWENE: Er ... ah ... well, it was like this ...

WhAlpha: We don't really CARE what it was like ... girl. We have MORE than enough, under Tower Law, to strip you of shawl and stole, or perhaps insist that you undertake a quick ten years of penance at menial labor in order to AVOID being stripped of your title and sisterhood.

EGWENE: Then go ahead and do what you're going to do.

GrayAlpha: [smiling her best bland negotiator's smile] OR ... we could reach an accomodation, now that we have something to bargain with. The senior Sitter of the Brown Ajah has been examining an ancient copy of a document that appears to go back to the days BEFORE the Age of Legends, and it has some FASCINATING ideas that we haven't properly considered until now in our Tower organization ...

EGWENE: [apprehensively] Such as?

GrayAlpha: [moving in for the kill] Such as setting LIMITS on how long the term of an elected official is supposed to last, and then holding another election to choose a new leader!

EGWENE: [honestly horrified]: WHAT?

BrAlpha: It's in a document right here (she pulls out a copy). The title is missing, but the introductory paragraph starts - as near as I can translate - "We the people of the United States [a State must have been their name for an Ajah, or something similar], in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense ..."

EGWENE: [sneering] NONSENSE! What can a document ten thousand years have to say of value for us today?

BrAlpha: [mildly] Well, further down there's an Amendment which is VERY interesting. They apparently had found it necessary to make a new rule that their chief executive - called a "President," which must have been something like an Amyrlin - could NOT serve more than two four-year terms before he had to stand aside and let someone else take a turn. I suppose one of their Presidents probably started lying to people, and demanding oaths of fealty, and trying to change everything that his precessors had done over the past 3000 years, and perhaps even call himself a King, and they rebelled against him, don't you think? Interesting lesson for us, no?

YeAlpha: We should hate to split the tower with a rebellion all over again, so we thought if you would just sign this document we've prepared - we call it the Great Charter - we could deal with one another on a more businesslike basis.

EGWENE: [after hastily scanning the document] But - but - but this means I agree to ALL SORTS OF LIMITS on an Amyrlin's authority! How obscene!

WhAlpha: Girl ... did you REALLY think you EVER had a prayer of getting all the older and wiser Aes Sedai to follow your orders without hesitation, in any area in which you saw fit to give orders, for the next 450 YEARS? (Or however long you intend to live?) Why do you think we usually choose ELDERLY Sisters as Amyrlins? So they can't cause TOO MUCH trouble before they kick the bucket! It's only logical! We seem to be stuck with you now, but that doesn't mean you can get away with pushing us around when most of us are old enough to be your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother!

EGWENE: [gasping as she begins to see the light] But what about oaths of fealty! Some of you swore oaths of Fealty to me!

GrayGamma: [who was one of those who swore to her] All I had to do was convince myself that it was for your own good, child. Therefore it fulfills my oath to serve you! Now, we are prepared to grant that any given Amyrlin can serve three terms of seven years each, provided she can persuade the Hall to elect her three times running, but 21 years is IT. At that time, someone else gets a turn. If you don't like it, we are prepared to depose you and find someone more amenable to sweet reason.

EGWENE: (muttering under her breath as she reaches for a pen) The next time Rand tells me Aes Sedai are narrowminded, bigoted, unrealistic, deceptive, and untrustworthy, I won't argue. I'll just tell him he doesn't know the HALF of it ...

AFTERWORD: What can I say? I'm a sucker for a happy ending, and having Egwene rule for the next 450 years as a dictator was NOT a happy ending! :) Now if someone will just rebel against Elayne (a nineteen year old girl as absolute ruler of one of the largest nations in Randland? UGH!), and if Perrin will resign from office and INSIST they hold an election to choose a new Governor of Manetheren to replace him (I nominate Tam al'Thor!), then the Wheel of Time might end on a POSITIVE note! Feudalism just doesn't cut it with me, somehow.

NOTES:

Quotes from the bit when they have just burst into the room are lifted from the scene in TSR when Elaida deposed Siuan. These words have now become the Official Formula for a deposal of an Amyrlin (in my opinion).

The anonymous document quoted from before the Age of Legends is, of course, the Constitution of the United States of America, which was written by some men who had come to take a very cynical view of arrogant rulers who expected to hold their office until they died of old age, and thus put LOTS of limitations into their description of how a Chief Executive could be chosen, how long each term could be, what things he and his government was not permitted to get away with under any circumstances whatsoever, and so forth.

The Great Charter is, of course, a literal translation of the phrase Magna Carta, which was signed by King John when a bunch of nobles, fed up with his own arrogance, basically said, "Sign this paper agreeing that King does not mean Absolute Ruler and God, or else we'll get rid of you and find somebody more reasonable to sign it." They were not democrats by any means, but the idea of putting official Limits on what the top executive could do became VERY popular over the next several centuries. We owe them a great debt.

Larry Homer



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Dragon's Library & Ulrike Großmann