Eparges Tsor placed another clay jar on a high shelf. It had been carefully embossed with the Dragon's sign: the sign of the Ancient Aes Sedai. "Under this sign shall he conquer," claimed prophecy. Eparges Tsor cared little for that, as long as he could continue making his wine. It was good wine: rich, but not sweet, and very powerful. Sometimes too powerful for comfort, but that made it good wine to get drunk with. Eparges Tsor had sealed his wine jugs with that symbol, black and white swirling in to take each other's place, for seventy years now. It was coming on time to pass the wine-making on to another.
He hefted another clay jar and set it up high. He stepped on something, a little squishy, a little hard, and altogether unpleasant. Grunting, Eparges Tsor kicked it under the cabinet again, swearing to find a good place to dispose of such trash.
He placed the jug high up and studied it for a moment. The Aes Sedai had severed that symbol in twain, retaining the white part, supposedly the 'pure' part. Who was to say that white had originally stood for the female half of the source? Bloody Aes Sedai. Meddling, trying to regain all the status they had lost in the Age of Legends. Well, no one had the status they had had in the Age of Legends. The Age of Legends was done with, ended by the Aes Sedai themselves, and no one even had the concept of status correct any more. No one could regain lost status until status itself was reborn.
Eparges Tsor turned, hearing the door open. A man, dressed in red and gold silk with waterfalls of lace at collar and coats, and a gilt harp under one arm stood just inside the doorway, taking a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the dark. Dark, deep-set eyes. A tall man, middle-aged, with his head cocked as if he were a robin listening for the first worms of spring. Joar Addam Nesossin.
"You?" exclaimed Eparges Tsor, reacting without thought. He had to protect his wine. This posturer had never appreciated the fine, dark liquid. He drank all wines alike, getting drunk without regard to the artistry of the vintner. "No!"
Not a drop of blood spilled on Eparges Tsor's clothes. The sound echoed eerily in the store room's stone walls and vaulted ceiling. Stacks and stacks of wine did nothing to absorb it. The word seemed to shimmer as it went out.
"You'll not get any of my wine, Asmodean," Eparges Tsor said firmly. "I press it out of a very special grape, you see," he continued, talking to fill in the silence. "Very special." He giggled to himself. "I'll never understand why these ignorant children decorate their shawls with grape vines. After all, I explain to them every time they ask 'Why,' and still they continue? What do they expect. I ask them why, and they never answer me as well as I've answered them."
The Immortal Free