Posted on Serafelle's Society of Scholars on December 11-19, 1998
Category: WoT Alternate Reality


Mashiara ran around the corner, and collided with Ben. The rod she'd been holding in her right hand fell to the floor with a clatter, and she snatched it up as quickly as she could. They rose at the same time, brushing themselves off. The floor was a bit dusty, and it seemed deserted inside.

Narrowing their eyes, they spoke at the same time. "Who are you?"

"You first!" They looked at each other in consternation.

"No, you first!" She glared at him, and held the Rod of Dominion a little tighter in one hand. Then she giggled helplessly. "Me first. I'm Mashiara. I already know you. You're the almost-Warder."

He winced visibly. Point to Mashy's side. "Ben T-Gaidin, if you don't mind."

"Of course not. You're that terribly goody-two-shoes Warder candidate. Serafelle's candidate. She's awfully wishy-washy as well, but occasionally she shows a really good Machiavellian mind. Almost as good as mine. I'm going to be an Intragleeman you know. It's my destiny. I Foretold it. What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here? You're not a Darksister, are you? I don't think we've met." He held out a hand, and she smiled witheringly. "Of course I'm not a Sister." She took his hand anyway, and they shook, Ben half-expecting to find a joy-buzzer in her hand. There wasn't one. Another point for Mashiara.

It was going to be a long day...

Mashiara Shaidar,
Lady Chaos

Ben shook Mashiara's hand. She had said the she wasn't one of the Dark Sisters, but she didn't seem much like a normal person, either. On second thought, though, no one here seemed much like a normal person. Still, there was something about Mashiara that made Ben feel.... slightly off-balance.

"So if you're not one of the Dark Sisters, then why are you here?" Ben spoke, then stopped, and corrected himself. "Nevermind, I'm not a Dark Sister, and I'm here...."

Mashiara watched him with a smile on her face. "Do you always talk to you self? Anyway, what are YOU doing here?"

Ben thought for a moment, then replied. "Yes, usually. Anyway, I was looking to find out where the others had disappeared to, so I came here to see if I could find them. I've already found one person, so there are probably more. Anyway, what are you doing? And what's the rod for, anyway?" Ben looked to Mashiara, waiting to see if he would get a reply.

Ben T-Gaidin
Another Would-Be Warder

"It's for my teacher. He's teaching me all the secrets of the Intrigleeman. At least, I hope he will. This is a present for him. I'm not even sure what it does, but it's a ter'angreal. Not even I'm crazy enough to test an unknown ter'angreal. Well, on second thought..." She leveled the Rod of Dominion at Ben, and he turned into a lizard. She giggled and picked him up. Mashiara had always liked lizards. Especially with garlic...

No. She couldn't eat him. Serafelle was too powerful, and definitely wouldn't like it. So she merely held him in her palm, debating whether to try and turn him back again.

Mashiara Shaidar,
Lady Chaos,
Ben T-Lizard Holder.

Ben watched Mashiara aim the rod at him, and before he could do anything, there was a sudden mental popping noise. When his head cleared, he was perched in Mashiara's hand, with his TAIL wrapped around her arm. His clothes, and other belongings lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. Something was clearly not quite right here.

Ben looked around as best he could, turning his head around, while trying not to lose his grip on Mashiara's hand and arm. He couldn't be sure, but he thought that he might be some sort of lizard. He wasn't sure exactly what species it was, but he didn't even know why he was suddenly a lizard in the first place. It probably had something to do with that rod, but why? That was another question.

Then he looked up at Mashiara's face. It was odd, how much your species influenced how you looked at things. It appeared as if she might be considering EATING him. At least he hoped it was just that it looked that way. Perhaps he'd better not stick around to find out.

With that thought, Ben streched out, and calmly bit Mashiara on the thumb. It barely drew any blood, but in startlement, she released the grip she had on him. Ben dropped to the floor, and started running down the corridor. Swiftly, he spotted a door, and darted under it. Still, it wouldn't do to stand around. He'd have to find someplace to hide until he could get help. And just hope that he could get his sword and fancloak back, when he returned to humanity.

Ben T-Gaidin
Just another lizard

Mashiara raced after the lizard. The door was locked, so she carefully opened it, using the Power. Ben was climbing the wall, as fast as his reptilian legs could carry him. She Channeled, and he struggled in the air. "Calm down," she crooned softly. "I'm not going to eat you. Not even with that Hollandaise sauce. Really, stop that. You'll hurt yourself." Point for Mashy. She held onto Ben again, and focused the Rod on the cute little lizard.

He turned into something very large. Something extremely large. It was lucky that this room had high ceilings, or he would have gone through them. It was another lizardish creature, but it stood on its hind legs, and had teeny little arms. It also had a large mouth, complete with dozens of white, enormous teeth. She gulped, and Channeled into the ter'angreal again.

This time, he turned into a sizable snake. That suited Mashiara just fine. A non-poisonous constrictor. A boa? She reached down and picked it up with one hand. "Ben? Don't strangle me, I have to turn you back into a human. But first let me get your clothes. Hold still. That tickles!" He squeezed her around the neck, but she giggled and pulled him away a bit. After a moment or two he was still.

She started back to the hall, where a pile of apparent laundry had been picked up by a maid not two minutes ago. Ethel wasn't sure what the fancloth was, but she figured that it was washable.

They surveyed the hallway. There wasn't anything there. "Uh oh" Mashiara said. And the snake shifted nervously. "We'll have to find your things. Let's check the laundry room first."

Mashiara Shaidar
Lady Chaos,
Runner from Ben T-Rex,
Holder of Ben T-Boa.

Ben twitched his tail, and flicked his tongue out into the air. Come to think of it, he was almost all tail, now. This form was certainly interesting. That second form had been interesting, but it had been hungry, and that might have had unfortunate results. Come to think of it, he was still hungry, but it wasn't quite as pressing now.

Ben flicked his tongue into the air once again. Mashiara was walking down the hallways, while he coiled around her arm, and up to her neck. He was careful not to choke her, though. He still didn't know what to make of her, but she seemed like she was going to help him.

Besides, she was warm. Not that the hallways were very cool, but it would slow him down. And given the choice, he prefered the warmth. While she walked, Ben considered his new body. He appeared to be a constrictor, about five or six feet long. About average, he thought. His scales were a dappled green in color, with spots of almost brown coloration.

Ben lazily shifted his coils around Mashiara's arm. He reached out gently with his mind, and felt around. Yes, it seemed that he could still Light-Walk, though there was no way to be sure without testing it. Still, it wouldn't hurt to see if she could help him. And it wasn't as if a snake was a bad form to be stuck in. Besides, this looked to be interesting.

Ben T-Gaidin
Just Another Squamate (classification including both snakes and lizards. *grins*)

Slowly his mind came back to virtual reality. Rambling was a dreadful thing at times, sending you from here to there to --Kiriath shuddered-- the land of Real Reality. At least the Eccentric power still worked there, however faintly. Not near the same effects, but it hid your motives efficiently...

The Intrigleeman stopped in his tracks. He had appeared in the Dark Palace for no particular reason, when he had sent Samirhage to do his scouting for him! No use blowing Sam's cover, thought Kir, so he wandered off, using a random Eccentric gate.

Random Eccentric gates were carefully detailed frameworks --had Mashiara learned the art yet? If not, it was probably high time to teach her. They were wonderful things to explore when bored, taking you from Sammael's little paradise over to Randland and even to Reality sometimes... in this case, however, the thought of Mashiara brought him to her.

And there she was, in all her chaotic splendor. Wearing her usual, which was the unusual anyhow, he bowed courteously and blinked. Was that a Squamate hanging on her? "Where did that come from? I've only seen one or two of them, and I've been to plenty Portal Wor---"

"It's Ben," chuckled Mashy. Kiriath blinked, taken aback. The Mistress of Distress --Lady Chaos-- chuckled once again and smiled. "I've a present for you, you see."

An eyebrow was perked by the Intrigleeman and he gave her an Eccentric telepathic thought. "What is it?"

"A Rod," she said simply. "A Rod of Dominion."

The Intrigleeman whistled appreciatively and winked, both at her and the Squamate. He gave her one last thought, "Be careful to keep the Intrigleemen secret," and finished it off with, "And head off to the Clash Chamber before too long."

Kiriath vanished after that, to the Clash Chamber himself, and observed the board. It had changed in his absence, with Samirhage obviously on to something, from the way its stone seemed to be flicking on and off cheerfully. Learning more torture methods, at his rate. Some of his operatives used their spinoff Eccentric powers in the most mysterious ways.

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
Ah, Virtual Reality. A grand place...

"Kiriath...oh, Kiriath..."

The Intrigleeman jumped as Carra's voice seemed to whisper from the air around him. "Hello, Kir. Guess who's back?" She laughed softly. It was just about time to push him a little off balance. "Who on earth is that creature in black hanging around? One of yours? Ah well - the point of this message is that I think we need to talk. Your place or mine?"

Carra released the voice-projecter, sat down and idly started drawing while she waited for his reply. She had just seen a woman walk past with a boa constrictor hanging over her that would make a fine centrepiece for her next exhibition...

Carramaena L'Var, Spymistress of the Dark and artiste supreme

A slight whir found its way inside Kiriath's head, a soft whistle. "Kiriath," it intoned. Deftly he wielded the Eccentric power and examined his stones from afar. Carra truly was back, the stone's essence returned! The Intrigleeman smiled. Now ever more chaos would ensue.

"Your place or mine?" it whispered. Kiriath grinned, feeling a slow chill creeping up his spine. Yes, she had set him off his guard temporarily. Dance Dae'mar still reached him, however; those performances in Cairhien a long time ago still paying off. The Great Mistress had played with Legos, whereas Kir had always proferred to set armies of the figures against each other and even go abroad.

Carramaena must really have frayed his nerves to bring the Eccentric power that strongly for a moment. Nevertheless, he lived for the Game of Dances.

"Both, yet neither," he responded, weaving his way through Randland to a vacuole in the midst of the Caralain Grass, just between the Dark Palace and the DragonMount. A place known in the Light as the Dragon Palace or in the Shadow as DarkMount.

The throne room he entered into was warded by weaves created even before the Age of Legends, attuned to the personalities of those within. Light for Light, Dark for Dark. Kiriath was sure it was not a steadyning; if anything, it was an unsteadyning. A strange, but yet mystifying place. Even for Carra it seemed rather curious. Perhaps he had put her off her guard?

"A nice place for a party," he thought he heard her say softly. His first thoughts in the place exactly. But time for business, nevertheless.

"Your place and mine," he said, whirly eyes as Eccentric as ever.

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
Puns are fun, just play with the letters...

"My place and yours," Carramaena agreed, stepping out of a gateway just as Kiriath arrived. She looked around curiously. "Nice. We really must have a party here soon. It's kind of empty, though, so if you'll excuse me a moment..." She pulled out her sketchpad and quickly drew the room complete with a couple of leather couches and a table. As the drawing dissolved into mist in her hand, the new furniture appeared. "A little trick I picked up..." she explained, sitting down. "So how have you been, Kiriath?"

Carramaena, Spymistress of the Dark

The Intrigleeman slowly put on a Bondish expression ---no trap of any sort could go past that filter--- but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. So, abruptly, he landed firmly on the couch. Apparently there had been something in there ...or else it was just him. The Colloidal Void made that slight pain in his behind an ignored nuisance, however.

"Times have been good, Carra." Let her take that how she would; good as compared to bad, or simply the way it had been meant. "I imagine you're caught up in the news, you having just as many sources as myself."

The Spymistress chuckled. "Perhaps. Although I think we are rather equally matched. In ways." Her expression remained that elusive grin, and Kiriath absorbed her words, mind rambling the many connotations possible from her words.

"In ways," Kiriath agreed, knowing that she knew of his Eccentric thoughts. Light! She really did have an effect on his power! "I'm not about to tell you the more ...curious... things that have ensued. Light knows you've probably figured a few out on your own."

He could imagine what she had thought about Mashiara with that snake on her shoulder; he knew it was Ben, but thinking of that Rod made him all the more hyper. She retorted, however, with, "I have." Short and to the point. But... "Dark knows you've probably found out some about my contacts."

Actually, he really had not, and neither had ever held the Oath Rod ---Light forbid! The thing annoyed him horribly; at least the Eccentric power had a natural immunity to it, in its very nature. "Inevitably," he responded. "Though you seem to be learning more and more about me every second." Time to make the friendly chat truly fun... "Who in Shayol Ghul IS that bloody double agent of yours?"

Carramaena looked aback for a few seconds, likely due to his quickly whirling eyes, but leaned back and chuckled. "That's what makes it fun, isn't it?" Her eyes whirled slowly, it seemed to Kiriath; perhaps the Game of Dances was awakening an Eccentric part of her also? A frightening prospect...

"It certainly is," replied Kiriath. "Why else would I have expected that answer?"

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
The Game of Dances does have a tendency to incite a long Eccentric ramble...

"You know," Carra commented, apropros of nothing, "you rather remind me of an old song I heard once. 'The man with kaleidoscope eyes...'" she sang softly.

Lounging lazily on the couch, she grinned. It was rare she met anyone who could match her at Dance Dae'mar. "Which reminds me, Kir. Where did you learn to Dance?"

Carramaena, just dancin' along

Kiriath chuckled. "A compliment in itself, I figure." Carra's own just twinkled from her seat; he still wasn't sure if she knew any more than he suspected. Which, of course, was more than enough.

"I suppose I'd better get to answering your question, though, even though it seems like I'm telling you a lot more than you're telling me." That gleam again, whatever sort it was.

"Anyhow. You already know of my ...exploits... as I know somewhat about yours, so I won't bother detailing that part of my life. All I even know is that I was born in Ghealdan. I became a gleeman around twenty or so ---my sparking of Saidin through my travels slowed my age, so I'm stuck at twenty-five now; it's rather nice." No mentioning that the Eccentric power had a part to play in that, too. No mention. "My travels, of course, led me to Cairhien. It's amazing what you can learn just staying there for a few days ...weeks ...months... I fell in love with the place!"

He chuckled. "As for Dancing itself, it just comes naturally for a gleeman. Whether it be Dance Dae'mar or Daes Dae'mar," he grinned. "I suppose you've suckered that much out of me; the rest you can probably pick off by yourself, with that double agent."

She chuckled this time, but it was the Intrigleeman's turn to lounge back and whirl his eyes. "Kaleidoscopic... I do like the sound of that." A soft silence held, and Kiriath whirled them a slight bit more, smiling deviously. "How did you come across such a Talent for Dancing yourself?"

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
The man with kaleidoscope eyes...

"Well," Carra considered the question and decided to answer it literally, "I grew up in a Tuatha'an caravan, you see. So I learnt to dance almost before I learned to walk - you know, you must remind me to show you the tiganza at some point - and then when I became a Dark Sister," she shrugged, "Dance Dae'mar seemed like a natural extension, so I gradually drifted into becoming the Spymistress of the Dark."

She made her eyes very wide and innocent. "Do you think I do a good job?"

Carramaena, Spymistress of the Dark
"If you already know who I am, I don't need to introduce myself. If you don't, you should."

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