Posted on Serafelle's Society of Scholars on 17-27, 1998
Category: Alternate Reality

Er... That Party Thing

Across the sand covered floor the DarkHound padded. Where each of his paws made contact with the sand, there was a hissing sound, and a tendril of smoke would rise. As he moved slowly across the surface, he left little pools of newly formed glass, tiny little mirrors in the floor. They could come in useful for looking up some skirts later, he thought.

Nightfall was bedecked like an extra from Miami vice, and seemed to be spending great energy in trying to spark the party into action. Good, thought Hound. It'll save me the effort, which can be better spent in other forms of mischief. But first....

With a thought, DarkHound morphed into man-form. Resplendant in floral-print leather Hawaian shirt, a cuendillar thong, and doc martens, the only touch needed was to form a pair of raybans on his head. A soft red light flared back and forth from one eye to the other, and Hound fancied the effect was reminiscent of a car in a program called KnightRider, from a galaxy far away. Grimacing at thoughts of Hasslehoff, Hound located a deeply shadowed area near the bar, perfect for drink powered surveilance. Swiping a bottle of "Mad Margarets Liquer de' Warthog-spleen" and a packet of dry-roasted Scooby-snacks, he set his back to the wall and began tapping his foot to the dreadful noise that passed for music. Where in the dark did Nightfall find these bands? Hadn't he heard of the world of If where a great band called the Spice-Trollocs played? Hound wagered he could have gotten them in for crate of Ulrike's suicide beer and a kiss from the Great Mistress.

He felt for the two bonds that were attached to him. He often caressed them gently now - They were his personal security blankets. Mashiara was closer, and so was the Great Mistress. Soon enough those two would enter the party. Hound hoped that they didn't chose matching dresses. He wouldn't want to become caught up in that confrontation. Dunking a scooby-snack in the liquer, he lost himself in memories of parties he had been to in the past, amd smiled a small, sad smile to himself. "The wheel of time turns," he sighed and gulped the snack down in one. "It turns, and it grinds, and it grinds us all to dust, one layer at a time." He looked down and noticed the shattered goblet in his hand, and the blood dripping from the wound in his palm. Great. Getting maudlin at parties was a sure sign of Attention-Deprivation Syndrome. This world he had found himself in was a cold place. Hound began to lick at his palm, the taste of blood complimenting the liquer perfectly. He thought about leaving the wound dripping for the artistic impact of the statement, not to mention the sympathy it might cultivate, but only for a moment. People tended to get upset if you dripped on their fancy clothes. "Where the hell is everybody?" growled Hound. For the first time in history, he was on the virge of being miserable at a party. He needed a smooch, and badly.


A gateway opened and Jani al'Koski stepped through. It had been a while since he last grazed the grounds of the Dark Palace and it seemed to have gone through another morphosis. Walking along Jani wondered about the tiny pawshaped mirrors amidst the sand. Funny little things, he thought to himself. Maybe I should get some at my place.

It looked like a party was starting, people were gathered on the beach, enjoying exotic looking drinks and talking. It looked like not all the guests were having a good time, though. DarkHound stood alone, almost hidden in the shadows. Noticing Jani, he did start to lighted up.

"Why the broody face, Hound?" he asked. "It's just that people have seemed to abandon this place. Look at this party! There's only a handful of people here!"

"I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think some people re still suffering from the PoD-acquisition syndrome. Once Blackthorne arrives I'm sure pick up space faster than you'd like." Jani laughed and added " It might just be that Ariella, the Great Mistress, herself would honor the party with her presence."

"And how would you know that, al'Koski?" DH demanded. "I happened to meet her in one of the Portal Stone Worlds and mentioned the party and you know how much she likes to party..."

"Well here's to that then!" DH said and raised the broked goblet. "You seem to have had an accident with your glass, Hound. Here, let me help you." Jani channeled Air, Water, Earth and Fire and an identical goblet appeared. He made another one for himself and poured liquer for both of the. Jani had learned quite a few tricks since he was here last...

"Hmm...Nice vintage. I'd like to stay and make small talk, but I really must find Serafelle. I have a feeling that she has been trying to reach me. See ya later!"

"Later, Jani." DarkHound replied and Jani approached the others wanting to find out if they had seen Serafelle.

Jani al'Koski
DH- I may have to start calling you KITT now *g*

It was time. She felt it in every pulse of her heart. Time for the Great Mistress, the guest of every honour, to make an appearance.

She took a deep breath; Ari may have been used to this, but Blackthorne certainly wasn't! She could dimly feel Ari sitting their in her mind, observing the world like it was a party. She could almost feel the glass in her hand, elegantly being stirred and shaken by a true Mistress of Dance Daemar.

With a sure and steady flow of Air that opened the double doors wide, she stepped forward into the hall to see Nightfall's gift to her. Waves glittering in the sun caught her eyes, warm sand squelched pleasantly under her foot. She laughed; this was truly an unexpected surprise. And she wasn't too overdressed in the Domani gown that showed her figure to its best. But the heels had to go; they would only get dirty here. So they went back into her closet for another occasion, and she stayed in her bare feet. An intricate tattoo of of a ring of black thorns swirled around an ankle that pecked out girlishly out of her dress' hem. She also redid her hair to fit the mood more; her hair was brushed out over her shoulders, spread-eagle, small barrettes holding it off her face. Gold armlets wrapped soundly around her arms and a thin gold chain with stars, moons, birds and thorns sat regally upon her head. Now she was truly ready. She looked like that legendary immortal seductress, Kalyp'so. Now she knew that no man would be safe from her.

The re-assembly of her attire had only taken a moment, and no one had noticed her arrival due to a quick Time weave she had used. She swung Time back into its usual fashion.

Every eye turned to her as she walked stately into the room. Murmuring hello's and how is everything's as she walked to Nightfall. As the co-ordinator of all this, he deserved the honour of her presence first. Seeing Darkhound at the corner of her eye, she decided to pay him a visit next, he looked somewhat sad. Although Jani was talking with him and cheering him up somewhat, she was determined to find this sorrow in his heart and destroy it. She was a jealous Mistress at times; Sorrow had no right trying to steal her Hound's affections.

After a brief conversation with Nightfall, congraduating him on his planning, she turned to approach Darkhound, but Daylorn was there, staring at her with a questioning look in his eyes. She noticed absent-mindedly that he was formally dressed. Probably the only clothes that he had brought with him from his travels.
"How have you been, Blackthorne?"
She nodded slightly in acknowledgement. She could feel Ariella manipulating her like a puppet on invisible strings.
"I have been well, Daylorn. And you? You still must be tired from your travels."
"I have been doing fine as well." He scanned the party from wall to distant wall. "So many people here that are new, so many people who are missing." There was the taste of her old nemesis, Sorrow again in his words. She touched his hand lightly.
"Change is part of the Wheel. Those who do not change and those who are weak, die. You are not weak and you have changed too."
With a slight smile on her lips, she left him to mull over that remark. There were many guests left to greet and dances to dance with the music of the steel drum band and the slow beating of the waves upon the shore.

Great Mistress of the Dark (Reborn)
"She wore the very stars in her hair..."

Serafelle stepped through the Gate to the party. Where in the world were those guys? And what, exactly, was on the agenda for the meeting?

Apparently, it was swimming.

She felt a bit odd, standing there in Cairhienin dress, with the intricately arranged hair and striped, high-necked black gown. But she did not feel like swimming. It was time to get the job done, to do what she'd come to do.

She picked up Nemesis, whose hair had grown back. The cat purred, and relaxed in her arms. Where were those infernal males? She started off to look for them. She thought about calling out for al'Koski and TrueDescender, but decided against the idea.

Serafelle Sedai
Sister of the Brown Ajah

Someone had summoned her. She had not recognized the name or face he had worn in the world where she was, but the forms had been observed, the rituals properly done, and so, she came. She was there... and then, simply, she was here. Wrapped in the shadows which were her natural environment, the true Great Mistress of the Dark stood quietly and observed.

It seemed there was a party, which would make sense... why else would she be summoned? She could feel the traces of several old, familiar presences -- Serafelle, of course, as this seemed to be her realm, and her dear avatar, Blackthorne. The girl had style, she had to admit; a worthy representative indeed. Dear, dear Daylorn was here also, and, it seemed, Nightfall was present as well. And of course, her beloved Hound, who would be found anywhere there were parties, and darkness, and mistresses. So many of the old cast of characters; she laughed fondly, remembering...

But there were so many new presences here as well, so many whose texture and taste were unfamiliar. She would have to make acquaintances, it seemed. No time like the present, she decided, and stepped out of the shadows.

The candlelight gleamed on her long auburn hair, bringing out coppery highlights. Her sable silks whispered as she walked into the room on silent, bare feet, the fabric clinging to her form and emphasizing long legs and slender curves. The gown was backless, dipping low enough to be considered scandalous on another woman. But she was the Great Mistress... scandal was irrelevant. Stopping briefly by the bar to get a goblet of the dry white wine she loved, she strolled to the middle of the room.

"Greetings of the night, all. It has been far too long since I have been to a party..."

Ariella, the Great Mistress of the Dark

The last days had been very eventful and, she admitted it to herself, very disturbing. Blackthorne, her claim to be Ariella the Great Mistress of the Dark Reborn, the problem with the Nine Rods of Dominion, her own "visit" in the kitchen ... [She snarled then she remembered that. How could her warder do this to her?] ... Barid turned to a gray Cat, this TrueDescender from Shara, the chaotic Mashiara, the leashed Sammael, Darkhound, ... it was too much in a short time. She felt like loosing the ground beneath her feets.

Therefore she decided to spent a vacation in the White Tower, doing some research. The Rods, tel'aran'rhiod and the resulting shapeshifting, rebirth, the seals, multiple personalities ... she had a lot of interesting topics.

The Gateway vanished and she headed to the Tower Library. Her light dust cloak hid the here unusual garb of catsuit and boots. An obvious carried pile of books and an absent-minded, dreamy look on her face let anybody conclude, that they passed a young Brown Sister. She smiled to herself, even Barid thought of her as a Brown, though she had no connection or affilation to the Tower. But once ... maybe she had become an Aes Sedai, if not...

The wheel weaves as it will, and I'm satisfied with my life now.

This thought brought her mind to Serafelle's request. What should she tell, what not? Settling in a corner of the library, surrounded with bookshelves she took pen and paper.

"I was born twenty-five years ago. My parents were, no, are, I believe, much respected healers in our home town. Though I often helped them as a youth I never considered it as my profession. I had simply no affination for it, but I admire my parents for their dedication. Instead I developed from early age a strong love for books. In them I found astonishing and exciting facts and phantastic worlds I could explore in my mind."

Deep in thought she glanced around. In reality it wasn't so simple as it seemed so written down. It was more as a passion, almost a obsession to read. It enstranged her from the other children, so her parents feared sometimes, she was lonely. But that she was never, she had too many friends in her imaginary worlds. Until they weren't imaginary anymore, they became real, at least for herself, and so she was finally here.
She sighed and continued to write.

"Since I heard many tales about the Aes Sedai, their vast knowledge surpassing anybody's else, possessing the greatest library, I went to Tar Valon. Alas, the Sister testing me found no potential to channel in me, thus they turned me away. Depressed about my destroyed hopes and with no other prospect than gain entrance to the Tower as servant or kitchenmaid I left, to see and learn in my own way through experience."

She remembered this day clearly. They let her wait, standing, until finally a Red Sister came, looking at her with this cool, superior Aes Sedai expression and her knees started to tremble. She felt like a rabbit before the snake. She never had much self-confidence and at this time she was still very young. The Aes Sedai smiled thinly and said: "Let's see if you can be of use, girl." How exactly she tested her she can't recall, only her overwhelming fear and in a very little part of her mind there was rage.

Finally the Aes Sedai declared the test futil and left, disdainful ignoring the courtsying servants. However, though knowing that not all Aes Sedai are alike, this experience formed Ulrike's attitude against the White Tower.

"The next years I traveled across the continent, often in disguise as boy. It amazed me again and again what people consider as proper behaviour for male or female and what not. I enjoyed this time, the people I met, the places I visited, especially my stay at an stedding, they had a collection of books nowhere else to be found.
A kind of milestone was Tear. It happened that I was there at the same time, actually even in the Stone posing as a servant, when Rand al'Thor took cal'an'dor. This day changed my life. It opened my eyes for the greater picture. The struggle between Light and Dark was until then only myth or theory for me. But now I know it is real. And finally this realization brought me to the Dark Palace at this certain evening when Ariella the Great Mistress of the Dark spoke concerning the troublesome Strawn. Since then I watch and record the events here.
Much has happened. I learned that I can channel, broke my block, got friends among both the Dark and the Light Side, met a real dragon, stole ter'angreal... I like my life here, it is so interesting!"

She read it again. It was the truth, though it was not the whole truth. It wasn't necessary to mention her own visit through the strange door ter'angreal in the Stone of Tear. The answers of the snake people had confused and frightened her. That led her to her task here, first without His knowledge, now in His, the Dragon's name as his eye and ear.

She put the papers away, Serafelle wanted them soon.
Now, she had some interesting speculations about Barid's shape-changing. There must be some records about tel'aran'rhiod somewhere here! But where?
She started to search and dig through the books.

always watching, even when not noticed

Ben looked up from where he sat on the beach with Kiriath, and Elrys. More people had entered the party, some who he recognized, and some who he didn't.

He saw Blackthorne enter the beach, and head over to talk to a man sitting at the bar. Then he saw a second lady step out of the shadows. For some reason, she reminded him of Blackthorne, as well.

Perhaps this was the Ariella he had heard about. Things were getting.... interesting. Still watching the gathering, he waited for the rest of the Light Knights to arrive.

Ben T-Gaidin
Another Would-Be Warder

Barid sat sullenly on the chair. It was a mistake, returning to see how Ulrike was doing. Save having to carry enough books to fill five libraries, and save having to search through the White Tower library after the only copy of a book that hadn't been moved for two thousands years, {A book that lay untouched for so long should have been left untouched. He would never truly get rid of the dust.} He still waited for Ulrike to find some time to school him for something. That she simply ordered him to sit nicely in a chair until she will need him was only to make him even more jumpy. If that was possible.
"Barid," Ulrike called. And he jumped on his feet. "come." Signing, Barid came. He had no other choice, after all.

~Barid Bel

A gateway flashed open, and a tall man all in black strode through.

"Where's Sundara?" were Eval's first words, before looking around and realizing there was no one there to ask. He Gated to the usual party zone and tried again. "Where's Sundara?"

"Eval," a voice said mildly from behind him, "don't you think you ought to say hello first?"

"My apologies, Great Mistress." Eval bowed fluidly to the auburn-haired Ariella. "I do abjectly and humbly beg forgiveness for neglecting the proper courtesies. Greetings, ladies, gentlemen, Darkhounds and others. I am delighted to be present today. Where's Sundara?"

Ariella sighed, but she looked amused. "She isn't here yet, Eval. But don't worry, she wouldn't miss a party. Just wait, she'll come."

"Thank you, Great Mistress." He wandered off down the - beach? What was a beach doing in the Dark Palace? - to see who was still around.

Eval Ramman, lord of darkness.

Blackthorne watched with amusement the one called Eval Ramman enter her party. It was a nice surprise to see Ariella here; she had never seen her in the flesh before and now she had a face to go with her voice. She thought it was interesting that he addressed the Ari from the Portal Stone world and not this world's Great Mistress. Well, in time he would learn.

She spoke softly with Darkhound. Fear shone in his face, but as she left, a forced smile appeared on his face and he began to walk around, doing his usual games. Eventually he was feeling true happiness as the Newbies fell for all his old tricks. She smiled into her glass of red wine; Sorrow would have no invitation to her party!

Now it was time to meet and greet this Eval who was searching madly for Sundara. Ari had only laughed when Blackthorne had questioned her, but she had the impression there was a bond there of some sort. Other than that, she knew he would become a useful ally in the future...

Great Mistress of the Dark (Reborn)
Lover of Red Wines and a Crimson Lover

Barid suddenly wished he had a soul, very desperately wished it. The taint passed right through him, unable to find his soul to sink in. He would never go mad, and right now, he wished he would. Wished it very much.
He walked three steps from Ulrike. Five more, and he will be forced to return. He had no idea whatsoever of how she did it. Only that he couldn't go away. For now, her destination seemed to be the Dark Palace. She wanted to talk with Airella about something. How to keep him alive for the longest time possible. He was sure, and how to make his life the Pit of Doom. He had no choice but to follow. None!

~Barid Bel

The Grand High Rambler shivered, a feeling of dread coming over him. It meant only one thing, of course; that a Dark rambler had returned from the, so to speak, dark.

Eval Ramman had been one of the few to make him revert his title to the Founder of Rambling for a long while, but the Grand High Rambler fit more, and was preferable.

It was also preferable that the rambler had returned, although it meant dangerous prospects for the Intrigleemen. A fellow need only ramble a few times, and the power of the Eccentric, if aligned with a steadyning, could be unveiled. True, it could not be utilized without being on the leader's good side --Kiriath coughed slightly, with a chuckle-- but it was still a wary prospect.

A quick move of a stone upon the board, and another of his agents was assigned, Be'laiel observing his movements for the time being. A tentative mission, for there was no telling what a rambler would do. All ramblers naturally hidden their own motives, whether they were aware of it or not, and were very mysterious as the result.

Kiriath smiled. Yet more chaos would ensue. Mashiara would be as pleased as the Intrigleeman himself. "Sundara..." he trailed off quietly. A lover always fumbled a rambler's nerves, making him ramble even more. Perhaps tongue-tied love was even the basis of rambling; it could not be proven one way or another.

A quiet nod to acknowledge Eval was given by the spymaster; perhaps, somehow, the greeting would go through. However it happened, Kiriath's thoughts strayed to Carramaena. If she returned also, intrigue would prevail even more. Intrigue, sighed Kiriath with a cheerful grin. The ruling aspect of the world.

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
A very "intriguing" rambler, I suppose.

Lost in thought, Eval failed to notice soft footsteps approaching behind him. Until a pair of hands slipped around to cover his eyes.

“Guess who,” a feminine voice murmured.

“Sundara?” Eval sounded distinctly startled. Distinctly pleased, too, which was gratifying. “Is that you?”

“Now who else would it be, Eval Ramman? After you’ve been looking so hard for me too.” She didn’t move her hands. “I’m hurt that you’ve stayed away for so long, you know. You never even sent a message. I think I’ll have to do something to make sure I know where you are in future.” And reaching for both Sources at once, she wove fine threads of One Power and True Power into his mind.

“There,” she added as the bond settled, “now you can ramble about Warders and bonding from experience.”

With a mischievious grin, Sundara took her hands away and walked around to face her new Warder. “Well, Eval? Did you miss me?”

Joining the involuntary bonding trend -

Finally, she found the two young male channelers. They sat quietly at the bar, amicably discussing the best way to ward a ter'angreal. They seemed to be getting along well, though they didn't know one another well.

Serafelle tapped al'Koski on the shoulder, and TrueDescender turned around as well. The bar stools were tall, and so they nearly stood eye-to-eye; then they stood up and that illusion vanished. She looked up at them and smiled brilliantly. They smiled back uncertainly. After all, even though she was a known supporter of an alliance between two Towers, an Aes Sedai was an Aes Sedai.

"I have good news for both of you. But really, it shouldn't be discussed in public. Shall I Ward us, that we might not be heard?" Jani al'Koski nodded, and TD shrugged. So Serafelle put Nemesis down, and seized as much of the Power as she could. Tired as she was, it wasn't quite as much as normal. It would have to do. She reinforced the Wards of Silence as best she could, making double and triple safeguards.

"Mind if I..." TrueDescender gestured around them. Serafelle nodded, and a similar Warding of Saidin appeared. At least, she assumed it appeared, not being able to actually see it. Al'Koski nodded.

Now there was absolutely NO WAY (OOC: Please respect this. I really want things to be this way; a secret between the three of us.) anyone could possibly spy on or overhear them.

The Cairhienin hairstyle wavered precariously as Serafelle nodded curtly. "Now. Down to business. I met with the Creator, and She is giving you a gift. It's a very precious gift, and should not be used lightly. You are both already Lightfriends, correct?"

The men nodded again.

"Good. That makes this easier. Have you heard of the Eye of the World? Its reservoir of Saidin was completely used up by the Dragon when he first fought a Forsaken. What most people don't know, however, is that there were two eyes. The other Eye also contains a pure reservoir of Saidin, and it remains untapped. I have gotten the Creator's permission to allow you two sole access to the unTainted, unadulterated Eye. It has no strings of any kind attached for you two, so don't think you owe me anything. The last thing I want is two more crazy people running around my study."

She sighed, and felt her control on the weaves waver. "This is a gift. You do not have to accept it; if you do, be warned that it should be used to practice, and not for frivolous reasons. A good many of us died to make the other Eye, and this one is much, much larger. It should last long enough for you both to get to Asha'man level. Let me know if you intend to accept this gift."

Her Warding dropped, and she sat down heavily on a stool next to Jani al'Koski. Hopefully, they would never find out the price she'd had to pay for the gift she freely gave. It was to be hoped that it would be worth the sacrifice.

Serafelle Sedai
Sister of the Brown Ajah

Hound padded around the outskirts of the party, looking for opportunities and mischief. It was difficult to remain miserable when The Great Mistress and her successor had both manifested at the same party. And Al'Koski had made an effort to cheer him, so best to make sure their efforts didn't go to waste. Besides, Blackthorne had given him a quiet reprimand, involving much squeezing of the dangly bits with the power, and he had agreed in a squeaky voice to lighten up.

Ariella's emergence was an exciting and frightening prospect. He knew she had been in Blackthorne's head in a way, but actually appearing as a seperate entity... if those two got together, he was in for a hell of a time. Ariella knew him to his bones, and he knew that meant shortly Blackthorne would know him uncomfortably well too. Of course, at least she would be left with no doubts of his position and loyalty.

For a moment, he considered slowly turning in circles in the middle of the dance-floor, in an effort to reincarnate his classic "I am circulating" pun. It would give him time to decide which Great Mistress he should ask to dance with first, to avoid the least possible trouble. Maybe he could dance with both together, though he doubted he could survive the resultant surge of the TP (testosterone power).

With a wry grin, he threw a peanut at the band, watching as it stuck in the trombone players instrument, only to be ejected as a high-speed projectile by the build up of air, and shoot like a deadly nut bullet towards a familiar new arrival. Eval Ramman? Wow, this was like a reunion of sorts. A quick flick of the power deflected the nut at the mass of the LightKnights gathering nearby. That'd teach 'em to talk politics at a party. Besides, he didn't want to have to face up to the lovely but fearsome Dark-sister Sundara, and explain why he killed her long-lost-love with a peanut after five minutes of his return.


Ben sat on the sands, still waiting. He shifted, begining to get bored. He stood up, and opened his mouth to speak. Then he he heard a slight whirring from the band, and felt a tug at his back. He looked down at his Fancloak and saw a small hole in it, down near the bottom. That was interesting. He'd have to sew that soon.

Ben glanced over in the direction of the sound. He saw a dark man looking in his direction. DarkHound, he thought he remembered his name as. Then, aware that the others were looking at him, he turned back to speak. "I don't suppose we could start this meeting, could we?" he asked.

Ben T-Gaidin
Another Would-Be Warder

To touch the Source once more without the Taint. That was the first thought that came to his mind. Jani knew that it wasn't his, though. In the past month he had come to terms with Olen Hai Kara, the voice inside his head. Olen was the real source of Jani's knowledge of channeling. After the first few lessons Kiriath had given Jani and TrueDescender, Olen had appeared. Jani had know of the voice earlier, but this time it was different. Now they both knew the situation and they had to live with it.

Olen was the one to suggest spending time in Portal Stone worlds. Worlds where the flow of time did not coincide with this world. And worlds were Saidin was not tainted. Those worlds were hazy and empty, as if the possibility on untainted Saidin was almost nonexistent. So to even think that he could channel freely, without fear was exhilarating.

"I accept your gift, Serafelle" Jani answered. "There really isn't any other choice, is there? But I will not accept it for free. I have gained access to knowledge from the Age of Legends and I'm willing to share it with you."

The word knowledge seemed to made Serafelles eyes light up. "Knowledge, you said? A Brown sister who doen't want to learn about the Age of Legend should not be called Brown. I'm listening."

Serafelle ordered herself a drink as Jani began to tell her about Collam Daan and the Sharom.

Jani al'Koski
an eye-tapping male channeler

TrueDescender told her that he had to think about it. So Serafelle sat, and Jani began to tell about the Age of Legends. She interrupted occasionally to ask questions and get more details.

Finally, his voice began to get a bit hoarse, and she knew that perhaps he'd lose it in a few more minutes.

She interrupted, and told him, "You're losing youre voice. I could Heal that, but I'm not sure how well it would take, since it has been a decade or two since I've taken classes with the Yellows."

He shook his head, wordlessly, so she continued, "There are no catches to the gift, but, remember: The Eye is attuned to you, and may also be attuned to TrueDescender, should he choose to accept the offer. No one else will be able to tap it. When you reach for Saidin, you will automatically be connected to the Eye, no ter'angreals needed. If you have any more questions, ask me."

Serafelle Sedai
Sister of the Brown Ajah

Mashiara walked in from outside. The Sammael-Clone was gone, finally. The a'dam was in the hands of the three female Channelers that had come for Sammael after Barid Bel Medar had left. Along with a clone that the fools probably still thought was the real Sammael! She giggled at the thought.

The DarkHound wandered the floor, chucking peanuts at the Nightlights. Mashiara strode toward him purposefully, and the crowd of dancers moved away from her nervously. Her reputation for insanity was well-earned. The Hound whirled to face her as she approached, having sensed her through the Bond. "Want to dance, Warder? Or should we throw more nuts at the Lightfriends?" A coconut appeared in her hand, and she stifled a laugh.

Mashiara Shaidar
Lady Chaos

Hound eyed the mysterious Mashiara up and own with an approving eye, and a lopsided grin. When the coconut appeared in her hand, he barked a laugh, feeling any lingering shadows of his dark mood vanish entirely.
"How did that coconut come here?" he asked. He knew he shouldn't, but some things were irresistable to a Darkhound.
"Maybe some swallows brought it here, gripping it by the husk." Mashiara's eyes twinkled with mirth to rival his own.
"Or perhaps two carried it on a length of twine tucked beneath the dorsel feathers." Extending a hand, he beckoned for the coconut, which Mashiara placed in his hand. Turning it slowly in his hand, Darkhound located the spot he wanted, and abruptly smacked it against his forehead with a resounding KERACK! which resonated across the dance hall.

Holding two coconut halves upright so as not to spill the milk contained within, Darkhound grinned impishly, and offered one to Mashiara, which she accepted with a raised eyebrow.

"To your health, Lady Chaos." Hound bought the coconut half to his lips and drunk the milk. Strangely, it tasted of Malibu. "Y'know, in one of the alternative worlds I travelled, I lead an army of coconut men in a war," Hound said.
"What happened?" asked Mashiara as she raised her coconut half to her lips and supped.
Hound kept a straight face. "The enemy were far to many. We were desicated."
The resulting jet of coconut milk that Mashiara snorted hit him in the face, but he concluded it was a fair deal for the pun.
"Hound, I asked you if you wanted a dance. Do I have to tug on your bond?" Her eyes met his, and he found himself lowering his gaze, unable to meet that stare for long.
"Sure, my lady, as long as I can keep the coconut halves afterwards. I have an excellent horse-mime, but alas no sound effects."
"It's a deal pup. Now are you ready to dance with chaos?"
"Do I not always?" asked Hound as he took her offered hand.

~Darkhound, a party animal, in the literal sense.

Barid reacted like a pouting child. No wonder, she had given more attention to the bookshelves than to him except some commands. A little vengeance for her suffering in the kitchen, now it was - almost - time to end this.

She raised. "Barid, I will Travel to the Dark Palace. There is a party and a rumor that Ariella came back." She climbed over book piles to a free spot. "You can come too, but first tidy up the room! Especially the books must be back at their proper place!" Leaving the Tower she caught a glance on his unbelieving, speechless face.

Arriving she found a grandious feast. Surrounded by smiling, dancing guests there was Ariella herself, the Great Mistress of the Dark. Without pause Ulrike approached her.

"Greetings, Ariella. It is so good to see you again, you were badly missed here. I'm lucky to meet you before I must leave."
"Leave? What urgent business drives you away?" Ulrike fought the impulse to tell her all. Ariella was even more regal, impressive, commanding and beautyfull than she remembered her.
"My usual business, Great Mistress. I started a demanding library project and as a result I haven't nearly the time to participate in the social life as I'd like. I hope to be here at times, but unfortunately I can promise nothing."
"Then I wish you luck for your ... library project." She arched one eyebrow. "Please enjoy this party before you must go."
"Certainly, Ariella, certainly. If you excuse me, I see that Darkhounds has finished this dance. I want the next with him."

"Ulrike, nice to see you! Do you want a ... ahem ... a beer?"
She stiffled a laugh. "No, thank you. I rather want a dance or are you too tired already?"
They danced and Ulrike forgot the time. Until a tiny lightball appeared beside her. Darkhound stared curious at the flickering, candlelight-like ball. His amazement grew when a soft voice whispered. "It is time! You must come now!"
She sighed and glanced regrettful at Darkhound. "I'm sorry, but I must leave now. If Barid comes, say him, I'm not mad at him anymore." She gave him a weak smile. "Bye."

The light led her deeper in the gardens. On a small clearing Al'cair waited. "You have the knack with this 'magic' now, haven't you? I must say I was really surprised when that," she gesticulated to the light ball, "your little messenger appeared." The dragon only nodded. He was packed with books and scrolls. "I know, I know, it's time to go! Well, then let's go!"

Together they vanished in the night.


The Intrigleeman, debating matters in a different section, of the dance, chuckled and shrugged. "It seems to me that our impromptu meeting is being frowned upon by the others. We do have to make a good impression for the Light, you know." He bowed courteously, patched cloak flailing the Air, beating it to oblivion. A slight blush. "Sorry ... it happens now and then. It's even hard for me to control my weaves sometimes."

He gave an ordinary bow. "Later, presumably in our headquarters?" The newbies knew it, whether they did or not; the location was warded to them as the Light Link was put upon each. Nods all around; looking around, they could even see the party turning from them.

Kiriath took this chance to do something that it had been immensely too long. A wave to the Great Mistress --whichever one it was-- but that was only a harbinger. The thing that he had awaited was the Game of Melodies, Dance Dae'mar.

Grinning, he strode over on a Airth horse, clapping a pair of peanuts in his hands. "Of course, you two, the coconuts could have been weaved from these peanuts..." a quick Earth pinch, "...into a pair of coconuts."

DarkHound waved a hand motioning for Kiriath to go away. "I'm busy dancing. We cannot have a cheap-humoured fellow such as you plaguing us." The Hound's eyes twinkled with that red gleam and Kir chuckled. "Okay, then," he said, knowing Mashy's eyes were on him also, "How about this?" He chucked the two coconuts at the Hound, forcing him to have a moment's inconvience, but he suddenly created a few new dance moves, grabbing both and sucking them down.

The Intrigleeman blinked. "You're a looney."
The Hound cackled. "It's only a flesh wound," pointing to the coconuts.

The Lady of Chaos even intruded, "Come back here and I'll bite your edges off!" This directed towards the coconuts also.

DarkHound grabbed the coconuts back, "You said they could be mine!" Mashiara retorted, "At the end of the dance," she grinned, motioning a thumb at the Intrigleeman, starting a turn of Dance Dae'mar. "Go ahead, then," grinned the Hound.

Ah, Dance Dae'mar, sighed Kiriath. One of the grandest things at a party, almost overruling bottomless glasses of Gargle Blasters. Only a tie, though, he thought, until he grinned at Mashiara. Maybe it was a little more.

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
We're the Three Chaostooges!

Blackthorne greeted here guests as they entered, being the very model of a good hostess. That is to say she also asked questions that probed below the thin surface of their outer appearance.
Her surprise guest also greeted the guests. She was learning more and more about Ariella as she watched her in action, studying the Great Mistress' moves. Suddenly, Ariella caught her eye and walked towards her. They had been avoiding each other like two cats in the same henhouse. They stood face to face, Mistress to Mistress.
"So," she musically questioned. "Are you going to dance with my Hound?" She held her wine glass in experienced fingers.
"I suppose that I will eventually. But first I must see to my guests."
She threw back her head and laughed. "Don't worry about things like that! Everyone always enjoys themselves at a party here!"
She felt her cheeks burn under the Great Mistress' amusement. How could see ever be even half the Mistress she was? Wait a moment; she wasn't going to let this 'guest' make her feel less the woman!
"So would you like to dance with Darkhound?" Her voice was as sweetly as it could possibly be.
Shock shone slightly in Ariella's eyes.
"Oh, no, I really couldn't. I'm your guest and I did crash your party. It would be too rude."
"No, you're my guest. Hospitality dictates that you should be the first." There was nothing better than a Miss Manners catfight.
The argument lasted for a few more minutes.
"No, Blackthorne dear, you should be first. After all, you have never danced with the Hound before, while I have many times before." The twinkle in her eyes spoke of her fun in this game. Suddenly, Blackthorne had an idea.
"Here's a suggestion to settle this problem. Let's ask our Hound who he would prefer to dance with." They both shared a grin as they headed over the the dance floor and to DarkHound.
He gasped and dropped his peanuts and mouth as he saw them approach, immediately dropping into a low bow.
"Mistresses, how may I serve you both?"
Ariella spoke for the both of them.
"We cannot decide who is to dance with you first, Darkhound. So we decided to let you choose." Amusement made a pretty picture on her face. "Choose."
"Er, Mistresses, um, how can..."
She moved so that her perfectly tanned ankles and a hint of what lay beneath her Domani dress showed, as Ari stood with the heels, deadly and dangerous.
Sweat ran down his brow. "Mistresses, I can't... I'm not worthy...Mistresses, please?" His eyes pleaded for this torment to end. It would eventually, just not yet.
"Choose, Hound."
Her eyes glinted with a warning. "Her or me."
He closed his eyes, whispered a feverant prayer to someone else, and spun around, finger pointing at... Mashiara? Both Mistresses looked at him strangely.
"One more try."
He spun around again quickly to avoid the Mistresses' wrath, deliberately took a half-turn away from Mashiara, and ended up pointing at Blackthorne. When he realized that pointing at Blackthorne and pointing was rude, he quickly lowered the finger. Ari just stood there, staring him down to the floor. She laughed in the silence.
"See? I told you that you should have the first dance with Hound. I have a Bad Puppy of my own back home, so it's no big loss to me. I have to go home anyway to ... train my Hound. Blackthorne, anytime you're in my world, stop by to chat."
She left as grandly as she entered. There was a lady with style. She turned back to Darkhound, who was fixed on the sight of the departing Mistress.
"So, shall we dance?"

Great Mistress of the Dark (Reborn)
'If you weave without purpose, you will create threads without form'

Sammael glanced around. It had been some time since the last time he got drunk. Even Blackthorne was begining to look pretty.

He gripped ahold of the One Power, just barely, and everything became much clearer. He was glad that holding Saidin increased your sensitivity, otherwise he may have just passed out.

He shivered. Now Blackthorne looked her normal self, and he was tempted to release Saidin. Fortunatly, Masiara was here. He wandered over to her.

"Why do you think that the Great Mistress has left Blackthorne?" he asked Mashiara. "I dought that she is just here for the party. Anyways, without her, Blackthorne is just a mere mortal. Should we deal with her now, or wait?"

"We shall wait" Mashiara said. "The time is not right. Besides, I am enjoying this party, and dont want it ruined. Now Go Away!"

Sammael, a bit depressed, descended once again into drunkeness. Maybe he would go flirt with Blackthorne. Or, maybe not...


Nightfall continued with his serving duties in his palm thatched hut, whipping out drinks as fast as his hands could go. Considering his unique style and abilities, that was very fast indeed. Still he managed to work up some conversation with a few people that sat there. Serafelle had given him a approving nod, Ben-T and Kirith were over in a far part of the beach/hall sipping and plotting for the return of the Light Knights, and even the Hound had made an appearance in a garb that Nightfall considered only slightly outlandish but very practical. Nightfall did grimace and almost lost hold of the martini he was handing to one of his serving lads as the remembered pain the Hound caused him shot through him. Quick to recover, Nightfall's deft hands though grasp back hold of the stem of the glass before it could shatter against the bar. Nodding to himself Nightfall handed it back to the slightly impatient lad, the boy's mouth drawn up in distaste.

"Didn't even spill a drop. Very good ole boy, I must say. I've still got the moves. Have to a talk with that young man about his manners later though." Nightfall thought, "After all I am the one paying his wages."

The sigh that emerged from between his lips was barely a wisp, though the feeling behind it carried much of the remembered pain and embarrassment Nightfall felt at that moment. Nightfall, though, wasn't ready to hold a grudge on the Hound for the incident.

"Point in fact though, I should have been more careful and certainly again a little more discreet. The Hound was indeed well within his rights to act as his did... Just wish the bloody fool had been nice enough to give ME some warning. Could have at least then not have had to nearly boil my head off in the bath for a week because of that."

Still he was very concerned by all the events. First the Hound's untimely appearance, which Nightfall was still very disquieted by all. Nightfall knew that for the time being, he was in an unassailable position. "For a time being the key phrase here." Nightfall continued to display his rampant chatter as well as pouring out drinks. "Knowing the Hound, I'm sure I'd better make myself as intangible as the shadows themselves. I don't mind playing the fool, just as long as I'm the one writing the bloody script."
However Nightfall doubted even the best script doctors and editors ever born could some how right this ship after what happened later on as the party progressed. Ariella's entrance at the party followed by a quick visit to his hut more than demonstrated that. It wasn't something to quiet write home to Mom about but certainly it had been better than most. Nightfall quickly replayed the image in his head as he handed another guest his own version of Sex on the Beach.

Nightfall had just noticed the Darkhound conversing with Jani about some matter that seemed to hearten the old Hound dog. Then he felt the eyes, eyes that he felt often in the presence of Blackthorne, especially when she was talking with Ariella or when she was acting the part of the Great Mistress. But this was different. This feeling of being watched carried it with more…power. Older, far greater than Blackthorne, and not mention as familiar as scent itself. It was then he turned around and SHE was there.
Ariella in her black-silked glory with an unreadable look on her face sitting on one of the bar stools. It was then that time halted as she looked at him and he back at her.
Finally she smiled and said "Well barkeep, what does a lady have to do to get a drink around here?" The question quickly pulled Nightfall back into the malleable reality. With a terse but meaningful smile, Nightfall then asked "Well Ari what's your pleasure?"
"I think you can guess…" Instantly, Ariella found herself with a glass of spiced rum in hand with a lemon twist "Enjoy and no need to pay. I know how good the tab is with you, Ariella." With nod and small smile Ariella walked on to mingle with the others. Lazily, she turned her head and in almost backhanded, careless manner, she said, "We'll talk later Nightfall. Take care of the bar for me and Blackthorne." With that she walked on, letting her hand wave. It was only a few seconds later before Nightfall realized that he was waving too. Quickly he stopped and continued to serve drinks.

A sigh again forced its way through his lips. "Well looks like the kitchen got a little hotter. Not that I can't take it, but even lobsters get boiled if they stay long enough…
No. I'm no quitter. Besides…" a lazy grin on his face was readily forming as he continued to serve and think in that vein. "Blackthorne could use a man of my considerable abilities… Certainly wouldn't do to back out now and especially on a lady like herself." It was right after he finished that though, Nightfall saw again Eval and felt his liver sink into his stomach.

Ever light on his feet and even quicker to think, Nightfall realized that now was maybe the most opportune time to bestow to Blackthorne his gift.

Grabbing a board and with a slight wink to both Blackthorne and Ariella who were both dance, flirting and generally being their Dark selves, Nightfall rode out to the island where his treasure was. The fierce blue-black light shone far out to all. Nightfall had more pressing thoughts on his mind. "Just hope the barriers I made to this place don't get me first. Last time I make something in haste and forget how to get past them! You know, Nightfall ole boy, if you make it out this alive, maybe just retiring and running the Flock of Ravens might not be so bad. Certainly boring keeps a man alive more than going against Trolloc-spawn piranhas, Gholam great white sharks, and a coral reef that can render even heartstone to itty-bitty chunks.

With each stroke, Nightfall could feel the mutant piranhas' nib and bite at his extremities. "Things do that more than that courtesan I met in Kantor." Still with a little luck and his own application of his Nightfallish powers, he reached shore with only a few broken ribs, some deep cuts, and one slightly bruised ankle. "Better than I thought I'd do." There, in an old oaken chest, was the treasure. Inside the ornamental woodwork, lay a pair of whips, both glowing from interior. They were not made leather though. "Better make sure to present these soon to Blackthorne. I'm sure she'll love them."

With that Nightfall quickly swam back to shore.

"Boy, the gang's going be wowed by this!"

Nightfall, Lord of the Night, Proprietor of the Flock of Ravens, and Surf and turf man

"Insanity maybe a short trip, but I'm still taking you all with me!"

Blackthorne was having a marvelous time at her party. The drinks were good, the company was great and best of all, she had presents. She was drinking a Mudslide as Nightfall approached her, lugging a glowing treasure chest behind him.
"Great Mistress! I have a birthday gift for you!"
"Really? A little late, but..." She gestured with her hand to bring the chest to her. He seemed proud that me had at least remember his Mistress' birthday. With somewhat curious hands, she opened the chest. Inside lay two whips, one larger than the other, made of heartstone. She smiled; these would be useful.
"This whip is a sa'angreal; far more powerful than those Age of Legend one and it worked with the True Power as well. Not that you would ever need it," he quickly ammended. "But you can never be too safe." He pointed to a smaller one. "And that little one is very special. It inspires great loyalty, compels great loyalty in whoever you use the whip on. Sort of like a mindtrap." He coughed. "I doubt that there are many who need that whip used on them around you."
With a light finger, she caressed the whips. She had known their uses immediately when she has seen them. After all, she had been the one who had made them. She turned back to him.
"Thank you very much, my First Servant." Her smile seemed to make Nightfall's eyes glow with pleasure. "I'm sure that I will enjoy greatly your gifts." He bowed low. "Your pleasure is my only wish, Great Mistress." He winked at her. "May I leave and tend to the bar again?" She laughed and gave her permission.

The party was starting to die down. The Nightlights wanted to gather and have their meeting. Mashiara wanted to devise new means of causing chaos. Even Kiriath looked eager for his vacuole. She held back a yawn only with the greatest of all her powers. She was out of practice from doing the party thing. With a sigh at her body's weakness, she headed to her chambers and bed.

With a stretch that made every bone on her body crack at the same time, Blackthorne awoke. Lazily, she put on the crimson bath robe and the stiletto slippers. As she walked past the dresser, she saw something that she was sure had not been there last night. The letter read:

Dearest Blackthorne,

'It was pleasant to meet my avatar at last face to face, as well to see old friends and new friends. But this meeting has allowed me the chance to make some decsions regarding you and me...'

Fear twisted Blackthorne's heart. Surely, she won't dare...

'It is not fair that I live my life through you. You are a different woman, a different Mistress than me. You deserve to be your own Mistress, not a servant to me, although dear to me as a daughter. So I have decided to leave you. You are now the Great Mistress of the Dark here. I will find new places where the first Great Mistress of the Dark is needed. You do not need me. You have grown much since I first led you here. Now it is time for you to fly on your own wings.'

The finality of Ariella's ward struck her. Gone forever?

'Take care of Darkhound for me. He needs a strong Mistress to keep him under the leash, yet you can trust him with all. He was mine since the moment he saw my divine powers and bowed to worship my Greatness. Your Dark Sisters will always be there for you as support, should you require it. Be always wary of the rest of the Dark Family. They often have plans of their own, plans which may interfere with your own.'

She frowned; why was Darkhound trusted so much? She would have to look at Ariella's Diary and learn much about his First Servant before she could make any conclusion about him. And no mention of her Nightfall, except a general word of warning... Curious.

'Some final words: Have Sunny and Eval's apartments far from yours. They are worse than a couple on a honeymoon. They ARE like a couple on a honeymoon, except every night. Enough to give any woman a headache. Fix Nightfall's drunkness problem. Remember to use Darkhound's doghouse when he's bad and to wash him before every party. Even his nose. Let Ulrike look at my library; I promised her a long time ago a peek. Any other untied business you can take care of quite well on your own initative.'

She could almost hear Ari's chuckle. She quickly scanned the rest of the letter.

'Should any of my past allies and friends of the Light return... Greet them with all the courtesy that you possess. They will soon become your friends, as they were and still are mine. Farewell Blackthorne, Great Mistress of the Dark, the child of my own heart.'

Ariella, the Great Mistress of the Dark

Blackthorne could only shake her head. No wonder her head felt so empty today. She had just thought it was the drink. Could this be real? By the letter lay two things. A worn, old whip that had seen many days of usage and a pair of black stilettos. Ari's first whip and stilettos. She almost wanted to weep, but she didn't. It wasn't right for Ari to be remembered with her tears, especially not the tears of the Great Mistress. With a sigh of one who has great work before her, she entered the shower...

When she left her chambers later, no one could have recognized the Great Mistress in full bloom. There was a new strength in her stiletto-pitched footsteps, the sound that drove the Hound to his knees as she past him by. Without pausing, she ordered him to come. He slunked with bent head, following her in terror. There was something old in her eyes, something that hadn't been seen since Ari had left. The long leather whip hung loosely on her belt, like a coiled snake waiting eagerly to strike.

Nightfall rubbed his eyes when opened the door as the stiletto-steps drew closer and closer. He gasped at the Great Mistress he saw. She stopped.

"Come with me. Put some clothes on; this will take awhile."

His shiver had nothing to do with the coldness of the command or the early morning. The Great Mistress had truly been reborn.

~Blackthorne, the Great Mistress of the Dark

© 1998-1999 Dragon's Library & Ulrike Großmann