Dragon's Library Fiction Contest on November 06, 1998
Category: WoT Third Age

Rand's Perfect Woman
- Or - The Dark One's Joke

You shouldn't take this story too seriously. I made it mainly because I wanted a mad story. And after you read it, you will have to admit that this is a mad story. I began as a theory, but since I could find nothing to support it... At least I could make a story out of it. I don't know if it's good. But it's certainly not the kind of stories I usually write. And it's certainly something you will never see in the books. Beside, I can't write another story until I will have Path of Daggers, so I made as story that can fit always, or so I think. It might be mad, but I wish it was a part of the story. Just because of all the trouble this would make.

~Barid Bel

Elayne woke slowly. She didn't want to. She expected the pain, but she felt none of it. Her fingers met unbroken skin, but she didn't feel the weakness of being healed. She stood slowly, she was lying on the floor, wearing only a simple white dress. She was in a room, not small, but certainly not large. One of the walls was a mirror, the larger she had ever seen in her life. She looked at herself. Save her hair, she was fine. Then her eyes locked on her face. The hair was at the same color, and the eyes were in the same shade of blue. But the face were different, only slightly, the nose was smaller, and the mouth bigger. The face was wider. Small changes, but it wasn't her body. The implications made her shiver.

[What happened to me?] She remembered the Trollocs attacking, being led by dark-clad fades. She remembered Rand screaming in fury, facing a dark man with hawk nose with a face that barely belonged to him. And she remembered the other man, the man that cut off her flows and shielded her, and Aviendha. And then it was only the pain, endless pain.
[You're dead, child]. A voice whispered in her mind. [Just like the two others died. As I died, so long ago, dead by those who were sent by the Lord of all the Darkness.] There was endless sadness in the voice. Gloom and grief and sorrowfulness more than she could ever imagine.
[Who are you? What are you doing in my mind? Where am I? What happened!] She demanded in fury. [What happened?]
[Don't be hasty, child. Let the others awake first, they would have as much questions as you will. And I don't like repeating myself.] The voice was female, she was sure of it. But she didn't like it.
[Others?] She, her body, sat on the floor, leaning on the wall, and her hands arranged the skirt around her carefully. She did none of it. It was the other woman's doing. [What are you doing? Stop using my body!]
[Tsk! Tsk! Child, it's my body, not yours, at least, it's so close to the one I born with that it make no difference.] She felt amusement from the other women. It was much like having a warder you can talk to with your mind.
[Brigitte!] She thought in shook. What happened to Brigitte? She hadn't felt the other woman, but she didn't feel the pain of the warder bond being cut. [She hadn't died, I would have known had she died.]
She could feel something else moving, awakening. [What... what happened?] Min, Elayne was never happier to hear another voice as she was now. Well, maybe Rand's.
[The other one is wakening too], the other woman's voice noted.
Min made a sound, half a scream, and half a cry of surprise. [What are you? Who are you? Where am I?]
[Min,] Elayne said, or thought, it was the same. [I don't know where we are -]
[Inside my head, children.] The women whispered, amused. [It seemed that the Lord of Darkness does have sense of humor. I never believed it.]
Elayne felt another presence. She would have bet anything that this was Aviendha. [Who are you?] That was all the Aielwoman said. [What had you done to me.] By what she felt from Aviendha, the woman was ready to violence. Elayne doubt if this could do any help here. Inside their mind.
[So you have awaken, little da'shain.] The voice murmured in satisfaction. [Now we can talk.] Aviendha growled. And her fury was stronger than Elayne ever believed the Aielwoman could feel. Aviendha was also calm.
[It's you body, isn't it? The... The Dark One put us in your body! Our souls! He did!] Min's voice sounded small and frightened. Amusement became stronger in the other woman.
[Very good child. It something that, as far as I know, had never been done. Never four in one body. You might have to excuse me for being amused by... the situation. But it's funny, in a way.]
What was so amusing in this? Elayne didn't had a clue. [We are in the hands of the Dark One?] How Aviendha made her voice sound so steady. Elayne thought that if she will try to speak she will never stop screaming.
[In the hands of the Dark One?] Amusement grew even stronger. [You can call it that. They want to... use me. To win. They are no fools. Turning me to the Dark One, in whatever method they would use, would do them no good. Lews Therin would kill any that belong to the Shadow without blinking twice. Even me. But if I still belong to the light... I don't think he could choose. And now they had put you in my body also. For the same purpose, I assume. Who are you? Why holding you can stop the Dragon from sealing again the Dark One's prison?]
Elayne couldn't think, nor feel anything. The woman's words. [Impossible, you can't her! She died three thousands years ago!]

[I died, but I still live, your bodies are death. But you are still breathing. The dead walk, and the dead speak, to foretell the Dark One's coming. Lews Therin killed me, in his madness. And would never forgive himself this. He had no choice, but he would blame himself still. He caught me, The Lord of all the Darkness. Through the seals, and although I never swore myself to him. Caught my soul at the moment of dying. It nearly killed him, even the Dark One has his limits. But he did. And now he had you as well. Who are you that can stop the Wheel of Time from turning? Who are you that can stop the Dragon from fulfilling a prophecy as old as the mountains and the seas? What make you so important to them?]
[Ilyena, Lews Therin's dead wife.] Min's voice was barely a whisper. But Elayne could almost see the nod of approval.
[That is what I was, before I died. Maybe I'm still, I don't know. Who are you?] It wasn't a question, it was a command.
[I'm Elayne, the others are Min and Aviendha.] Elayne thought quietly. [We are, were, Rand's lovers.] And more, had they convinced Rand into marrying them. [He is Lews Therin Telamon reborn.]

Stunned shock was the only thing that came from the other woman, from Ilyena. She could barely believe it. [He took you? All three of you?] Ilyena asked suddenly, after a time so long Elayne feared that the woman had gone. [What did he feel for you? What do you feel for him?] It took her a moment to understand what Ilyena meant.
[Love!] Min shouted. [Nothing but love. Do you think that we would have agreed to... what are you thinking of? Do you truly think that he would have agreed to this?] Aviendha remain quiet, but Elayne would have bet her soul, a miserable expression, that the Aielwoman searched ways to attack Ilyena.
[It was... unlikely, but who can know. In this age? With Aes Sedai that are less than savages are. And da'shain that are worse than Friends of the Dark.]

This time Aviendha explode. [You!] Elayne felt her reaching for saidar, what she meant to do with it she had no idea. They were at the same body as Ilyena was. She herself for furious on the other woman, she had no right to judge! Aviendha's anger faded away. [I can't touch saidar! I can't even feel the source!]
Aviendha's words had frozen her, she opened herself to saidar, feeling herself with the warmth and life and - there was nothing there, it was as if saidar had gone. As if she was stilled! [Here, the True Source cannot be reached.] Ilyena whispered. [You have no idea how many times I have tried. Saidar cannot reach here. We are not stilled, if this give you any comfort.]
[What are they going to do to us?] Min asked, surprisingly calm. [Why putting us all in one body. And why you?]
[I'm who I am, and who I was.] Ilyena answered. [As you are who you are. Lews Therin, Rand, as you say he call himself now, would never act against our good. Blackmail.]
[He will never... he can't decide that we are more important than the world! He can't!] Aviendha said urgently. [He must not.]
[What would you would do if you had the choice?] Elayne asked Aviendha, the other woman didn't bother to answer.
[We are wasting time,] Min said, there must be a way out of here. [We must escape.]
[There is no way, I'm here for a long time, ever since Ishmael pulled me out from the stasis box, and there is no way out.]

The body rose to its feet, and began to pace the length of the room, Elayne had no idea which one of them commanded it. They had to escape. They couldn't let Rand make the choice, he might choose wrong. For a moment she had no idea what choice she meant. But they had to escape. Rand mustn't allowed to choice. It would tear him inside, kill him from inside like nothing else could do. He shielded himself from anything, but not from them. If he would have to choose, if he... It would kill him.

Ilyena shut herself off the argument. It was useless, there was no way out. And the Light only knew how long had she been trying to break free. She had lost count of time long ago. She thought it must be a year or two at least.

She moved the body, there were always some food in a room that was attach to this. It was always full with food, but she never saw anyone filling the room with food. The body was hungry, strangely, she couldn't think about it as her body anymore. It wasn't. It was their body. Hers, and the other three women's. It looked a lot like the one she was originally born with. So close that she sometimes wondered about it. The body was younger than the one she died in. When she woke the body was about nineteen years old. Now it was about twenty-one, she thought. She had no idea if she will slow in this body too. She was allowed out of this room rarely, only enough so she could touch saidar. Enough so the lack of the One Power wouldn't kill her.

They took a good care of her, she had known that the wildest rumors she had heard in the War of Power had been only the edge of what actually happened to the prisoners of the Shadow. The War of Power, so long ago, if Ishmael was to be believe, three thousands years ago and more. She remembered waking, and how much this had terrified her. One wasn't suppose to wake from death. And she remembered dying. Remembered her husband, Lews Therin, the man she loved more than anything else, leashing out with the power. All the while laughing madly. She remembered facing him, and...

She had been awaken once afterwards. When they pushed her into the stasis box. "To keep you safe until you will be of use again, Ilyena." As Ishmael said. Time didn't pass inside stasis boxes. And it was as if they simply close the box and opened it immediately. But three thousands years passed. And the world she knew was no more. Saidin was tainted, and men that could channel were hunted down. Worse of all, the Aiels, those gentle men and women, sworn never to rise a weapon, had become something that was worse than the soldiers they had to breed in the War of Power. They had to do this, of course, but none like it. It was too much like Aginor's doings. And the Aes Sedai, they were less than savages. All this according to Ishmael's stories, but she didn't think that the Forsaken lied to her. He had no need to, and Ishmael never did anything unless he had reason too. It made her nervous, all their talks. She wasn't exactly afraid of him, no in the way she would had he been Rahvin, or Sammael, or worse, Demandred. His lust of power burned long ago any other lust.

[Why did he tell me all this?] She wondered idly, she forgot that she wasn't alone in her head anymore.
[Who did what?] Elayne demanded, the girl had to learn patience. She ignored her.
[What are you doing?] That was another voice, Ilyena thought the woman was named Min. So far she was the calmest, and the most reasonable.
[Eating, if you didn't notice, I... we are hungry.] It was strange, more than strange, to share a mind, a body, with another. Not to say three others.
Aviendha began to laugh suddenly. The mouth of the body twisted. [I just thought about this.] She said, but the Dark One did Rand a favor! She actually giggled saying this.
[What!] All three of them thought united, shocked.
[Think, none of us liked having to share Rand with the two others.] Ilyena never heard about such things, a man with three women, Lews Therin with three other women. It was enough to make her mad. [Now we don't have to share him. He can love one woman only. Now we not only share the same man, we share the same body!] She laughed more at this. The other two, on the other hands, wasn't amused. She herself wasn't, she saw nothing funny in this.
"We still have to get out of here, Aviendha. Before we can meet Rand. Or have you forgotten." This time Elayne had used the mouth to form the words. It was... disturbing. She felt the mouth moving, but didn't order it to move. More than disturbing.

"That can be arranged." A voice said behind her. A voice she knew, a voice she dreaded of. She turned back. Or at least tried to, the four of them tried to control the body at the same time. And the body tripped on its own feet, she fell hard on the floor. Too confuse even to send her hands forward to stop her fall. [Let me have control!] She shouted inwardly, [I know him, and I know the body more than you do! We can't all control this body at the same time!] She felt them moving back, and she could move the body again, they were just voices. But they sensed her fear, and fell silent.
"It can be hard to get use to a new body, Ilyena. Especially when you have to share it." The man said. He had another body, but she knew him. He visited her before. He called himself Moridin, he deserved the name. He also had other names. It didn't took long to guess the truth. Elan Morin, Ishmael, Ba'alzmon. He was the same man. None but Ishmael knew about her, and Moridin remembered her conversations with Ishmael. "You are leaving now."
"What?!" This was the last she could expected.
[Why he's letting us go?] Elayne asked.
[He's evil!] That was Min, [Even Myradraals are pure near him. I could believe him to be the Dark One in the flesh.]
[Have you seen something, Min?] Elayne asked.
[Little, enough. More than I wanted. He and Rand are going to struggle against each other. I don't know who will win.]
[Quiet,] Aviendha said. [You can tell us all about this latter, we have to deal with him first.]
A voice of reason, at last. Ilyena thought at them, [Be quiet!]
"Do you want to stay? You're a... message for Lews Therin, Ilyena. A warning. He will understand." He meant to explain no further. And she meant to argue no more, she wanted to be out of this place!
"Well? Are you going to let us go or not?" She asked.
"Tell him about me, Ilyena, tell him about what we did to those he loved. Ask him how high the price he's willing to pay is." He moved closer, and she danced back. She didn't like being too close to him. She didn't like him. But she was wrapped in air suddenly. And something she couldn't see threw her back. She flailed in the air. She was about to crush against the wall. She hadn't seen the gateway. But somehow, in the middle of the flight, she passed through it. She fell into the ocean.

As soon as she understood where she was she started swimming. Aviendha was afraid, she could feel it as well as she could feel her own fear. But the woman wasn't afraid facing the Forsaken. But she was terrified from the water. She felt something else, a knot of emotion, much like the way she sensed the other women. But there was no awareness in it.
[Birgitte,] Elayne called. Relieved. [She is alive!]
How many more surprises she would have? How many women would feel her head? For some reason, Min giggled. She heard her thoughts. Nothing was funny in this! But the other woman began to laugh.

~Barid Bel

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