Added on January 09, 1999
Category: WoT Third Age
Authors: Barid, Lanfir

Towers of Midnight:
The Dragon's Last Chance

Part I: Lews Therin

Cyndane felt her legs hurting as she watched the conversation between Moridin and Graendal from her kneeling position. It frustrated her that she could not hear the words through Moridin's shield, not to mention of course that she couldn't get up and walk away unless Moridin ordered her to.

She looked at Moghedien shorty, but she was still kneeling with a bowed head and closed eyes. Moghedien seIed patient, but the Spider had, despite her many faults, a lot of patience. More than Cyndane ever had herself.

They were inside Moridin's favorite place: the bubble outside the Pattern. Cyndane never liked those places because of the unexpected danger of drifting to far away from the Pattern to return, or worse: the exploding. Cyndane had never studied those bubbles anyway, when she needed a hideout, Tel'aran'rhiod had always suited her needs. Moridin, though,seIed to know everything about thI. As if he studied thI for years. The only other person Cyndane knew with so much knowledge about thI, had been Ishamael. She smiled faintly. Another resIblance. They were so much alike that she was almost sure that Moridin was Ishamael reborn. When she confronted him with that fact, though, Moridin seized her with the True Power.

While she stumbled and still trIbled from the hit, he hissed at her: "Don't forget your name, Cyndane."

She gasped, and not because she saw the black spot, the saa, drifting before his gaze. The name. Last Chance. "Don't call me like that! My name is Lanfear!"

Moridin burst into laughter until tears rolled down his face. "No it is not," he giggled, and showed her a cour'souvra. "This is you, Cyndane. Lanfear is dead. You have gotten a second chance. A last chance." She wanted to scream when he touched the crystal - and her mind - but controlled her shock and her anger to shivering. A Mindtrap! "Be grateful for your last chance, girl," Moridin snarled.

"The Great Lord offered you the chance to serve the Nae'blis."

This was just too much. Cyndane held herself barely erect when she spat: "Are you the Nae'blis?!"

"Yes. And you will serve me, girl, as you will serve the Great Lord. He has almost lost his patience with you."

Cyndane closed her eyes miserably when she rIIbered that conversation. This was one of the many conversations where Moridin defeated her every time. Humiliated her every time. She rIIbered the first one, too. She rIIbered opening her eyes after a period of darkness, after a period of pain.

After the fight with Lews Therin - when the Aes Sedai with him, pushed her through the ter'angreal doorframe. That Aes Sedai girl offered herself, too, in her attIpt to kill the Daughter of the Night. And succeeded. Cyndane almost respected her. She was untrained, a child, but she had defeated Be'lal too. Be'lal was a fool. I was not. She was just lucky. I did not expect her. I was only watching... Lews Therin...

Because of the painful mIories, it took a while to figure out that the pretty, silverhaired girl she was looking at in the mirror, was herself. In an sudden outburst of anger, she smashed the mirror with saidar. And while the mirror shattered, she felt the shield sliding between herself and the True Source. She turned around, furiously, to see who had the bloody guts to cross her plans - and saw the tall Myrdraal standing in the corner of the room, looking at her. Smiling. A Myrdraal? Smiling? she thought hazily, but pushed it away angrily. Furiously. "What has been done to me!" She shouted at him. "I shall unknot this bloody Illusion and-"

"You shall not, Cyndane." A human voice said, and Cyndane watched as Moridin walked in, smiling as unhumurous as the Myrdraal did. "It is not an Illusion. You were dead, and this is your next life. This is your body."

Her thoughts jumped away from that point, probably out of selfprotection, and she returned inevitably to the thoughts she was always having. Her greatest love, her greatest desire, her greatest hate, her greatest fear. All in one person. Lews Therin. The name struck her as lightning. The words she said to him seIed to echo in her mind all the time. If you are not mine, you are dead. She rIIbered the pain she inflicted him with, trying to kill him, challenging him to kill her, because she did not want to live anymore. He did not fight back. He was unable to fight her, she found out, and in her fury she had attacked him again. She did not know why he did not really attacked her, but at that moment she did not care, she just wanted his death. He did it again!

He slept with that Aielwoman! He was hers! "He is still mine," she whispered determined to herself. "Forever."

It sounded convincing, at least.

Moghedien looked up at her words and smiled at her in a humiliating way. She did not say anything, but they both knew that the Spider understood. Moghedien had seen the love affair from the beginning until its end.

Cyndane looked at Graendal, whose face had become paler and paler during her talk with Moridin. She kept her face smooth, but Cyndane could see she did not like what Moridin was telling her. Graendal lost her freedom, like all of the Chosen, though Moghedien and herself suffered the most, acting like servants in livery.

Cyndane wanted to be dead. She had lost everything when she fell through that red ter'angreal doorframe. Everything. She shook her head. She did not want to die. She still had a chance. A last chance.

Lews Therin is still alive! He can be mine again! What was death, to her? Without Lews Therin, she almost wished for it. Almost. She almost wished she had the courage to open herself to saidar, to end it all. What stopped her? Lews Therin!

She gritted her teeth. Always Lews Therin. Since almost the first time she had seen him he was in her thought. Scrambling her mind, the only one that made her loose her tIper. Burn the man! She still wanted him, despite everything. She betrayed the Light for him! She died for the man! What more could a man could wish for? But he left her! She forced her thoughts to another subject. Her captivity! She like none of it! And she would be free!

Moghedien stared at her, the spider looked at her, there was understanding in the other woman's eyes. The other woman would help her, if she would find a way to free thI both. Cyndane doubted if there would be a price that she wouldn't pay for being free. Death wasn't something she feared of, but if she was to die, she would want to die forever. Not to awake again caged in a way worse than she already was.

Lews Therin! This time, love wasn't connected to the name. She knew Lews Therin better than he knew himself, better than anyone alive knew. If only she would be able to talk to him. If only she would have a chance to convince him not to kill her. He held himself back, the last time they engaged. With the angreal he could have killed her. He was always arrogant, arrogant enough to show her that she lost him completely. Pain! The world was pain without Lews Therin. He would never be hers, not of his free will. And forcing him to love her would be constantly knowing that had he had a choice, he would refuse her. Yes, she lost him. She only wished it hadn't hurt so much.

Lost in thought, she forgot herself completely. If only she had the chance. Lews Therin broke Asmodean's bond to the Great Lord, an impossibility. Lews Therin would free her from Moridin, if she would manage to talk to him more than a moment without him killing her. Lews Therin would do it, but what price would she have to pay? Not much, and everything. Suspicions, half heard whispered, and a thought that horrored her. A price that would have convinced Lews Therin to betray the Light, in an age long gone. Certainly it had to mean something to him even now, a new body, a new mind. She still saw Lews Therin in Rand al'Thor. Maybe she could even avoid mentioning her suspicions. Maybe knowing about Moridin would be enough. If Moridin was really Ishamael, and she saw no other option, unless... In the Pattern of the Age, every possibility existed.

Most of thI could be accessed form a Portal Stone. Moridin was Ishamael! He had to be! But the reason Ishamael and Lews Therin hated each other with such passion, a hate stronger than the hatred between her and Ilyena, wich took something. The reason they hate each other so much was that they were so like each other. Ishamael was dead, but so was she. Wouldn't the Great Lord be as angry at Ishmael for dying as he was at her? Would such man would be placed as Nae'blis? The other option was something she rather not think about. But her mind refused to evade her suspicion. Had Lews Therin belonged to the Shadow that was the way he would have been.

Every possibility exist, in the turning of the Wheel of Time. The lesson she had learned so long ago echoed in her mind. And another, one she had learn in the War of Power. Sometimes, the opportunities that were too good to be true were traps. But on others, what you saw was what was. Sometimes, rarely, a man was just a man. And the best way to hide something was to put it where you will never look. In the place where you knew as your own. A Dark Dragon or the Betrayer of Hope. Either way, she was trapped. And she would need Lews Therin to escape.

Two thoughts chased each other in her mind. No way to be free from a mindtrap, no way at all. And: Lews Therin has already done the impossible. Two thoughts, two courses of action, and more than her soul on the stake, if she would choose wrong.

Lews Therin would agree to make a bargain with her, she would go back to the Light. Burn her soul, she would even agree to ignore this Aviendha. Would agree to ignore anything.

Her freedom. - Something so simple, something of a value so high. If she would fail... Lews Therin had already done the impossible.

She could hear Graendel's breaths again, Moridin teared his shield down, Graendel seIed to be on the point of fainting, her breath heavey with fear. Moridin smiled at Graendal. The woman's face took a whiter shade of pale. Cyndane could not resist a little smile; Graendal surely deserved it after her act of using Compulsion on her and Moghedien. "You can go now, Graendal. I trust you will follow my orders well," Moridin said, his tone amused. Cyndane hated him for it. He enjoyed his power a bit too much - like Ishamael had done, would Lews Therin be so, had he choosen the Dark One? Graendal gave the Nae'blis a hard glare she was foolish enough not to hide, but curtesied quickly before she made a Gateway. As the Gateway blinked out, Cyndane heard herself say: "Nae'blis, can I talk to you?" And, with a short look at the Spider; "Alone?"

Moridin smiled. "Secrets, Cyndane? Already?"

She gritted her teeth. "I need to speak with you Nae'blis. It is a matter of importance. If you would please..." She hate to plead! But Moridin nodded, the saa drifted through cold blue eyes. Cyndanes own eyes drifted to Moghedien, who was still kneeling and looked at her with pure hate. She jumped to her feet and rushed outside as fast as she could to Moridin's gesture.

"What is it, Cyndane? Why do you have to talk with me in secret?" He could find amusIent in strange places, and if he would find her words displeasing... she couldn't hide a shudder.

"I have been thinking," she said and noticed in disgust that her voice was not as firm as she wanted it to be. Maybe it was good, willows bend in strong winds, and survived, oaks broke and died. And her own death would be extrIely painful. "And I think I know a way to capture Lews Therin."

Moridin laughed. "You never give up, dont you?" But he didn't sound displeased, "How long are you going to try? Haven't you lost enough?" She lost more than enough, but the man would never understand.

"Do you really care?We have a lot in common, you and I. Nobody recognizes us for what we were, and we are both the most powerful people in the world. And we both want to have Lews Therin. What matter the price I pay for you? If I bring you Lews Therin?" She felt the deadness inside her body vanish as a feeling flared up; it was almost enthusiasm. "He can be yours." She almost said ours, a mistake she mustn't do again. And as she told Moridin half the thruth of what she was planning to do, she almost felt happy again. Her fate was hers again. And there was a chance Lews Therin's fate could be hers, too.

When Cyndane entered the room in Illian, Lews Therin was not there. His room was dark and cold, the moonlight was the only light. It shone white and pure through the large window. Exhausted, she letted herself fall on the great bed. It felt good, to lie again in Lews Therin's bed, even if she was alone. The conversation with Moridin, who ever he really was, had been tiresome. She had let herself forgot how stubborn he could be, and how he wanted to play safe. She was taking a great risk with this action, but it would be worth it. All that mattered, was convincing him that this would be worth it. That she would proove she was still reliable. It was the hardest thing she had ever did in her life. Moridin was so intelligent that he understood almost everything she did and did not say. He understood the intentions, not the words. With that fact in the back of her mind, she was able to convince him. It worked! She almost laughed in sheer joy.

While waiting for Lews Therin, she thought about what she would say to him. How she would have to say it. Convincing Moridin was hard, but convincing Lews Therin would be much harder. The Dragon was as stubborn as the Betrayer of Hope had been, if not more. But of course she knew Lews Therins weak spots, and not Moridin's. But would the man Lews Therin was, now, still be vulnerable to what she was planning to use on him? Rand al'Thor led a different life now, with a different love. Cyndane gnashed her teeth. She rIIbered one of the last things she did before she died. Which one of thI? Which one of thI is Aviendha? Jealousy stabbed her. - If you are not mine, you are dead - twiched in her heart, but she had to face it to give her plans a chance of succeeding. She had to forget her jealousy. If you really love him, you want him to be happy. You must let him go. She almost laughed out loud. Bitterness. She could not let him go. Never.

Just as she finished this last thought, Rand Al'Thor entered. Alone, to her relieve. All she only saw his tall dark figure against the light, but she knew it was him. She would have recognised him everywhere and always. He channeled the lamps on, an old habit Lews Therin used to have, too.He gave a start when he saw her. "Who are you?" He dIanded. "What are you doing in my rooms?" She had to bite the inner side of her cheek, since the very first moment she had seen him she knew. Lews Therin was this man. But she could see the farmboy there too, now, save the body, he was Lews Therin.

Cyndane laughed softly when she glid off the bed. "You have changed since the last time I saw you, Lews Therin. You seI harder, colder." She approached him eased, not hastily at all. For one moment she was terrified, if she recognized him, he might have recognized her too, and she would die on the spot. Lews Therin never made the same mistake twice. He did not hurt me before, he shall not hurt me now! she rIinded herself, forcing to smile. Slowly, she touched his cheek - and almost shrieked when he grabbed her wrist within a heartbeat. Pushing her hand away. He surely learned a lot. How much he had changed "Dont be afraid of me, Lews Therin. At least I will not harm you." She said dryly.

"Why do you call me Lews Therin? And who are you?" He still hold her wrist. His hold was firm, almost painful. A bit more preasure, and her wrist would snap. His voice were so cold that she had to hide a shiver. Maybe he was even harder then when he sealed the Bore. She was the last who caught his gaze before the taint attacked him. That look on his face had been --

"You used to call me Mierin, and love me." -- more than determined. More than desperate. More than a man who knew he would die and would still hold on to what he was doing -- Telling him the truth was the only escape she could have, the only one that could free her, either from captivity or death.

"Mierin? Lanfear!" He gasped, and she felt a shield slide on her, so strongly that she felt it even when not holding saidar. He took her chin in one hand, rising her eyes to meet his, she saw recognation in his eyes. "You are dead!"

"Death is not always final with the Lord of the Grave," she smiled faintly. She felt none of it.

"You have changed!" This was almost the boy she met in the world of the Portal Stone. Almost.

"My body died. They gave me another." She hugged herself, she didn't want to remember.

"You are still beautiful," he said and played with his left earlobe. A habit of Lews Therin, and he rIIbered it too. He froze at the moment he realised he what did it.

She smiled at him, faintly. It felt good, knowning that he still thought she was beautiful. "Thank you. Lews Therin." It didn't lessen the fear inside her.

"What do you want?" He said, brusque again, as he realised again to whom he was talking. "I seI to rIIber that the last time I saw you, you were killing me." His eyes could bore a hole in a stone wall, "I avoided killing you in Cairhien, don't count on it now." -- painful to look at. Especially when their eyes met. A whole conversation had lied in that one look. Why, Mierin? he had asked without the use of any words. And she wanted to cry for what separated thI. It seIed not worth it anymore. What made us end up this way? It had been the only moment of doubt. His eyes narrowed, and he was determined to go on. To seal her in. To imprison her --

"I know. I was jealous. I don't always control myself when I get so angry, and rarely when it had something to do with you." Cyndane smoothed her black-and-red dress and swallowed hard, she sat down on his bed. Her knees couldn't support her anymore. She sighed deeply. "Lews Therin, I loved you. I still do. I always will. You know that. But the idea you -- you..." She gulped, tears burnt in her eyes. She had to say it. "The idea you slept with that Aielwoman, the idea I lost you again, it was more than I could bear." She paused for a moment, waited to say the true words where you would manipulate him with. She would manipulate him with the thruth, with the feeling she had when that cursed friend of the dark- Kadere - told her he slept with that Aiel. "I did not want to kill you then, Lews Therin. I only wanted to die. I wanted you to kill me, I was challenging you to kill me - for I could not bear the pain, Lews Therin, I just could not." I will never be yours, I will always belong to Ilyena. The words broke her heart, again. He did not look at her. Quietly he studied the bedspread, though he still held on to saidin, still held the shield on her. She knew it. She brushed against the shield, too faintly for him to feel it. It would hold, no matter what she would do, whatever the course would be, she was in his hands. For him to decide what he will do with her.

"I could not kill you." he finally said.-- and to lock her away for ever, while he would spend his life with that doe sop of an Ilyena. She stared at him in horror, frozen, until she felt the One Power again. The Great Lord had let the shield drop, she could stop him. But just when she embraced saidar, she felt something terrible, horrible, filthy in the air. A feeling of sickness. Around her. And she heard Lews Therin scream, together with the people he brought with him. A scream of intense horror. It was the last thing she heard before she woke up, thousands of years later. --

"I know. But that girl with you, could." Fire blazing around her, burning her skin, burning her, she accepted the pain happily, it was by far better than the one in her heart.

"Moiraine. She died too, I think. The ter'angreal exploded when the two of you fell through it." A long silence fell. Cyndane realised he was not wanting to fight her. He looked awfully tired and wearily. He was too weary to fight her, or to discuss her words. He would listen to all she had to say. She surpressed the want to smile. This was going to be a lot easier than she had planned. "No help for her, not that this would make any differance, she would kill herself before letting herself serve the Dark One." She heard the faint accusation, Why, Mierin?

"Lews Therin, I need your help." It took all her strength to say this words.

He gave a start and looked up. "Why are you asking me to help you? You always took care of yourself. And why would I? You would have none of my help, Lanfear." Resisting after all. There was still a spark of life in him that resisted. It almost relieved her. The name she had choosen, Daughter of the Night, cut her like a whip. The hate in his voice was worse than anything she had ever had to face.

"I think I can give you something valuable in exchange." Her life, her soul, her freedom were on the stake, Lews Therin was the one who used to gamble, and he often won. Would she be able to beat him in his own game?

"What?" He seemed eager to know. Curiousity was by far stronger in Lews Therin than in anyone else she had ever known.

"Have you ever heard of a cour'souvra?"

"A Mind Trap," he answered without thinking. She was talking to Lews Therin now, not to the Al'Thor boy. It frighten her, Graendel knew more than anyone alive about the way human's mind worked. And not even she could explain what might result of Lews Therin's reborn.

"I was captured by one.You must help me to get out." She rose to her feet in indignation when he began to laugh. Her hands itched to slap him. But it would ruin everything.

"Can't you find something harder to ask me to do?" He had changed, she didn't even consider that he would laugh at her. "Why don't you ask me to give you the moon? That is impossible!"

"Healing severing was, too. Cutting bondings with the Great Lord, too. I have seen you doing impossible things before, Lews Therin. You must help me!" She grabbed his hand and squeezed it to stress the urge of the case. The desperate feeling she showed, was true, too. She was playing an act and at the same time, she told the thruth. But not even half of it, somehow, he always knew when she was lying to him. She couldn't risk it now.

"Who captured you?" he asked. She expected him to ask what he would gain by helping her, but not him, this would come later. "How?"

"He calls himself Moridin now. But I believe he's Ishamael." She looked at him, waiting for her words to sink. What his reaction would be?

"No!" But this came as a whisper, his hand squeezed her so hard that she had to grit her teeth not to scream from the pain, "How many time I will have to kill him? How many times! Doesn't putting a sword through his heart enough!?" His voice was harsh, his eyes looked beyond her.

"Death is not always final... not with the Great Lord. Unless you will use balefire, and that has its own risks." Destroying the pattern was something even he would want to avoid, even with his hate to Ishmael.

"I killed him with Callandor! Burned his soul! Wasnt that enough??" The outburst was so full of fury and pain that it startled her. She knew Lews Therin hated the Betrayer of Hope, but this even seemed a bit exaggarated. He jumped up and walked the room up and down, muttering and cursing. Cyndane sat cross-legged on the bed and watched him, worried, it wasn't like him to turn his fury to her, but it was always better to be safe than sorry. She rIain silence, the last she wanted was to rIind him of her precense now. She realized how much she missed him. After a period, he looked up again. "Why did he capture you?" he said even wearier than before. But he was iron, the shield was still firmly holding her.

"I messed everything up by tumbling through that ter'angreal. He gave me another chance. A last chance. He called me Cyndane and gave me this body, and got me in a Mind Trap to control me. So I would not blow this last chance, he said." She couldn't hold back the bitterness.

"Cyndane," he said softly. As if to taste the name. "A pretty name. The meaning though..." He shook his head as if he wanted to chase his thoughts away. "Why do you think I will help you?"

Cyndane almost laughed. She knew him just too well after all. She had him, if there was just the smallest bit of Lews Therin in him, she had him completely. She will gain her freedom again. What do I want more? The price for freedom would be forsaking the Great Lord, but this matter nothing to her. She will lose every chance to win him, but considerring her options, she didn't have a choice. The words came slowly though, she had to force each one of them. "Only one thing, Lews Therin Telamon. I can give you Ilynea." By the look on his face, she won.

Part II: Ilyena

"Ilyena," he breathed, his eyes squeezed shut. To anyone save her, his face where a blank mask, she knew him enough to read the immense pain in him. "Oh Light, Light burn my soul, Ilyena. I, I..." He tottered, it seemed that all his anger flooded away within a hearbeat. Cyndane closed her eyes, trying to regulate her breathing. She felt burning all over her body, and terribly tired. It pained, seeing him grieving so much for a dead woman that didn't deserve him.

When she looked up, he was sitting in a comfortable chair with a high back, his knucles white on the chair's arms. Astonishment was overwhelming him. When he was finally able to talk again, his voice was still a breathy whisper. Full of burning anger, hidden pain."Is she... She is not dead? She is dead! I have killed her myself!" His face were a twisted mask of pain, his eyes widened and almost on the edge of crying, his face lost of all the hard lines it had when she mentioned Ishamael. She wanted to hug him terribly, wanted to kill him for feeling so much for another woman save her.

Cyndane shook her head. "Not really, not fully." It hurts, she cried inside. I dont want to tell him! I do not want to see that look on his face! Burn me, I have to! "I already... sealed when they did it, I never knew this was possible, not for Ilyena. When we awoke, it was not necessary anymore! Until now, you remember her now, don't you?" Did he remember her? The first time she lied her eyes on him? The first time they kissed? Did he remember broken promises of love? Nights of pasion? Did he... The pain inside her was unbearable, so strong she wanted to vomit.

"Did what, burn you!" In one fluid motion, he rose from the chair and clutched her shoulder hard, pushing her to her feet. That was not something Lews Therin was used to do. Rand Al'Thor's habit? Lews Therin would have use the power. "Did what? Who?"

She straightened her back. Now, now is the time. Now I can manipulate him.Gain your freedom, burn you! she shouted at herself, gain freedom, and lose him, what do I choose?. Lews Therin did not seem to notice. "Let go of me, Lews Therin, and sit down. I cannot tell you this if you are threathening me."

"I am not threathening you!" he spat, but took immediate control of himself. "Maybe I am. What did who do?" She took her seat on the bed again, outwardly calm.

He still stood before her, trembling slightly as she looked up to him from her place on the bed. And from this uncomfortable position, she began to talk. His hands were closed to fists. "Soon after we awoke, most of us... Aginor and Balthamel had died already, and Ishamael and I were the only ones awake yet, Ishamael was raging about everything that went wrong after the Sealing. I let him go, I wasn't that interested, I heard you died, and that you killed everyone you loved. Including Ilyena. That was all I cared to know about. And then Ishamael began to talk about that...." She wanted to curse, but swallowed her words as she saw the hurted look on his face. It almost broke her heart. How he must have suffered from what he has done... Maybe now he understood how much he hurt her. "About your wife. And about death not being final after all. That he took her after her death to Shayol Ghul, that the Great Lord had caught her soul. She is there, Lews Therin, sleeping outside of time. Believe me," her voice tightened, He must believe me, he must! "He wondered if she would be useful when you would remember more of your past. He claimed it was possible, I didn't believe him, then. Of course, we both know that he died before he could use her on you, and I would not even dream of waking her up."

His eyes were far off, not seeing her. "Ilyena," So much longling, so much love in this single word. The love that was once hers. Then his eyes hardened, he was beyond fury, beyond rage. He was wrapped in wrath. "Ishmael said..." He hit one of the bed post with a fist, it was almost two inches of hard wood, it shattered like glass. Lews Therin didn't seem aware of it, " How could this be done? Ilyena had no bond for the Dark One to draw her soul."

"I don't know," She told him, the truth, "All I know is that it took every last drop of strength the Dark One had. To pass through the seals and grab Ilyena's soul. I was contend to know that Ilyena wouldn't... interupt my plans for you. She is placed in a stasis box, and I never thought of trying to free her." She did, more than once, she wanted to strangle the woman with her bare hands.

"Until now," he said, but his thoughts were not really fixed at her. His eyes looked far beyond anything in the room, almost as if he was listening to something, or someone. He began pacing, walking the length of the room, another habit Lews Therin had. "I know I can't trust her, the question is, can I trust you?" He said under his breath, talking to himself. He abruptly turned around and walked to the window. With his back turned at her, and watching the view over Illian, he said coldly, "Why, of all women of the world, would you lead me to Ilyena?"

Cyndane holded her hands in the air. Frustrated. "Because I am the only one who knows about her."

"You hate her." The voice were stone hard and icy cold.

She watched the muscle of his back tensing. "I do."

"You still love me." The was a glint of amusement in the words.

"I do." She hadn't bother to keep the fury away from her voice.

He turned to her again. "So why would you help me to get back to her? To reunite us again? You're romantic, but that is not something you would do."

"Burn you, Lews Therin, I told you!" Cyndane jumped off the bed and opposed him, her hands planted on her hips. "I want to be free! No ties that bind my soul, nobody who will order me around as a servant. I do not want to be caged. I want to be free. Free!" Free from all save him, but she couldn't tell him this.

"I can understand that. You always wanted to do what you wanted. Sometimes Iwondered who you served, The Dark One, The Creator or just yourself."

"I serve no one. There is only one person I can stand next to, and that is you. I have told you that before. But since you are not willing, I will do it on my own. Now will you help me or not?"

"You are a dangerous woman, Mierin," he only said, he sound amuse. Suddenly he spun about to face the door, so fast that it alarmed her, sent her to saidar. He hadn't freed her from the shield. "Oh Light, why now?" he just just said before the door opened. It slammed against the wall, and Cyndane saw a pretty young woman with golden curly hair run in. The girl looked excited, "Rand, I have to tell you about-"
Ilyena! Cyndane recognized the woman, falling back on the bed in astohishment. She was so stunned that she barely felt the hate. That is....impossible! Her breathing stopped for a few moments, and she had to use all her willpower to keep it going again.

"Who is she, Rand," the girl said, her voice tightening, her hands planted on her hips. "And what is she doing in your bedchambar? Is she one of the nobility?" She held saidar. And was ready to use it, by the look on her face, Cyndane wondered against whom. Lews Therin regarded her with an angry look.

"Elayne, what are you doing here?" Lews Therin... Rand... asked, he hid his surprise well, and his fury even better, but she knew. "You're supposed to be in Caemlyn. I thought you will be there for a few days." Somehow Cyndane seemed to have lost control over the situation. Elayne, not Ilyena. If she remembered correctly, a friend of that dark-haired farmgirl that Rand once loved... She had been with him in Tear when he claimed Callandor.

"I was, yes," Elayne said. Her whole attitude was challenging. And suddenly, before she began to talk, Cyndane knew why. This was a woman talking to her lover. A woman being jealous. Pain babbled up inside of her, but she pushed it back in that place in her stomach again. It had rested there for years, she had to keep it there. "I traveled here because I wanted to tell you about Egwene. She need to talk with you. But in the name of the Light Rand, who is that... woman?"

Lews Therin looked shortly at her, and Cyndane felt uncomfortable. She was still surpressing the pain. The girl reminded her a bit too much at Ilyena. "This is Cyndane," he said to Elayne, "but I think she prefers to be called Mierin."

The face of the girl softened a bit when she smiled at Cyndane. It made her whole face light up, she was really pretty. "I don't blame you, having such a name, who gave you that poor name?" Her whole behaviour was somewhere between being girlish and an air of dignity. Cyndane suspected that she was high born, with that attitude.

"Maybe you should call me Mierin," she said, answering the other womans smile. "It is the only name I have with some pleasant memories." Her glance at Lews Therin should leave no doubt what she was talking about.

"Seventy four." Lews Therin said quietly.

"Seventy four? What do you mean?" The girl wondered.

"Seventy four time she had tried to kill me, isn't it? Or was it seventy five?" He hadn't bother to hide his contempt, it hurt her more than anything else would. And he knew it.

"What do you mean, Rand al'Thor." Elayne's voice was as hard as steel.

"Nothing," Cyndane said quickly, "We are old friends, and he simply enjoy to tease me, sometimes he take it too far."

"Oh," The tense drained off the girl, she decided she had no reason to be jealous. It was almost funny. "You shouldn't do it, Rand. Will you never learn to be polite" Lews Therin moaned loudly and threw himself on a chair.

The pain attacked Cyndane again. He had lost Ilyena, so he had searched for a woman that would resemble her as much as possible. "Are you lovers?" she heard herself ask.

"Yes," Elayne said simply. "I'm his warder."

Cyndane spun her head to Lews Therin. "What about that Aiel girl, then?"

"Aviendha?" Was he blushing? He almost seemed to. He hesitated a while before speaking. "She, too."

"What?!" Cyndane spat, jumping off the bed again. But the air solidified itself around her, forcing her back on the bed. She hurled herself at the shield, a stone wall she pounded all her might against, but it held. The Great Lord burn his soul, it held. There were tears in her eyes. How could she ever bare this, after the sacrifice she made with giving him Ilyena, how could she? But the next moment she was unable to move, and because she did not feel anything, but saw the glow around Elayne, she knew it must be Lews Therin. "Why, Lews Therin, why?" she cried, helplessy. She smashed at the shield that kept her from embracing saidar again, but it was no use. As much as struggling was. "The Great Lord take you, why?"

She heard Elayne gasp, and Lews Therin hissed at her. He was angry as she had neverseen him before."What do I do with you, Mierin? Burn you, she wasn't suppose to know!"

Cyndane wanted to stop crying, but she somehow seemed to collapse. "Burn me, I am not a coward, I am not weak. This is just too much. I sacrificed everything for you, Lews Therin!" A part of her just could not believe she was loosing her dignity here, but considered coldy that it might help her convincing him to help her. I must show him weakness, she thought, to comfort herself in what she was doing, but the feelings were bitterly real. "Everything! Why did you left me? I would have done anything for you. I love you!"

Elayne goggled at her, mouth opened wide, "What?!"

"I left for a simple enough reason, Lanfear! Ilyena had nothing to do with this, or have you forgot? You convinced yourself that you love me, you never truly loved anything save power! Never! After what you did, be glad I've not killed you on the spot. I can destroy your soul, so utterly that even you precious Great Lord would be able to do nothing! Be glad I don't make you pay for all the crimes you committed in the name of love! The only reason you're still alive and unharmed is Ilyena! Never forget it, Lafear! Never forget who I gave my heart!"

Elayne took a step toward her, Cyndane hadn't saw her drawing the dagger she held in her hand. Saidar surrounded her in a threatening glow, she looked beautiful even with face twisted with rage. "You are dead!" Elayne hissed at her. "You almost killed Aviendha and died!

"So are you when you ever lay your hands on him again!" She replied, no doubt the woman held herself from bodily attacking her with fingernails. She tried to touch saidar again, useless.

"Elayne," Lews Therin said with a voice that could have frozen the Pit of Doom itself, his face were... it make her shudder and hug herself. "leave us alone. Mierin and I have to talk."

"Talk?" Elayne spat, her voice and face filled with disgust and hate. "Talk? This... woman wants to kill you!"

"She will not try again. Now Elayne, please. Leave us alone."

"I will not, Rand al'Thor. If you don't mind, My Lord Dragon, I will remain here to make sure she doesn't threat on you in... other ways." Elayne's voice was frozen.

Cydane smiled at her. "I certainly hope you will be of some use." She savored the sound of the gritting teeth.

"I will regret it," Lews Therin signed, "Leave us for now, Elayne." It wasn't a pleading anymore.

Elayne looked at him with indignation, "The bond is not to be used for such..." She swallowed hard, and continued, she already began walking at the door."We will talk about it with details later, My Lord Dragon." Elayne walked out of the room, her back straight, her curly hair dancing on her shoulders, but she did give Cyndane a filthy glare before she closed the door. A girl after all. How young is she? Nineteen?

When her eyes drifted back to Lews Therin once again, he was observing her with a far away look in his eyes. "How can I be sure to trust you? Most of all, after I have seen this happening? You are not steady at all -- it surprises me that you want your freedom even more badly than you want me. You love your freedom that much?"He glanced at the door, "You have just caused me more troubles than you will ever know. "Do you know it?"

You will be mine anyway, Lews Therin, somehow, she thought, "Good!" She would tell him nothing else. Somehow, after that loss of last hope, new hope had seemed to be flaring up inside her. She did not understand why, things seemed worse than they had ever been, but it was a simple fact.

He smiled faintly, as if he had guessed her thoughts. "I know you as well as you know me, Mierin. It is quite refreshing, you havent changed a bit. I almost understand you. So you want to be free from your Mind Trap, yes? Maybe I know a way." He walked over to her brusquely, took her in his arms and kissed her firmly. At the first moment, she struggled in surprise, wanting to slam him away, but the next moment she realised it was Lews Therin she was kissing, something she had dreamed of in centuries. Breathless and passionately she kissed him back, but he kept control over the kiss. Warmth from his lips flooded into her, as if he warmed her from the inside. Filling a void inside of her with what she had missed for years. It brought a tense with it, a tense that became stronger and stronger, it melted inside of her, became hot, hotter than she wanted to, stronger even, until the point of letting her burst and -- it bursted. With a shriek, she pushed him away in the dazzling feeling that took over her. Something in her mind had doubled, she felt terrible and wonderful in the same moment. She was all bubbly and happy inside, as a little girl in love, and on the onder side she felt.... as if she had gained something. As if she would never been alone again. She was aware of her body, of his, in a way she never was before.

A buzzing in the back of her mind came up, softly at first, but becoming stronger."What have you done to me?" she demanded.

"You want to be free, Mierin. That is what I plan to give you!" He pushed her away from him roughly. And she struggled to stand on unstead knees. "You will not enjoy it though."

With the buzzing, the pain came. It pulled at something outside of her. It pulled harder and harder, and her head, her mind, seIed to burst again, but now inanother way. The pain became too worse to bear, and she realizes she screamed. "What are you doing?! Stop it! STOP IT!" Her whole body ached now, the sheer pain became her world, it drowned everything in a white, pure light that swallowed everything. The pain was not only a part of her, it was inside of her, like something was tearing her apart. Ripping her mind away in slow, little pieces, but taking bigger parts with every taking. From somewhere far away she heard screaming like she never heard before, so full of agony, so full of pain and hurt that it could not have come from a human throat. It was coming.

She was the pain. The pain was hers. It was unbearable, she knew she was dying. Her heart was just about to stop beating. She had to die, this was beyond the reach of each human being. And then, suddenly.... it stopped. Like a candle that had been blown out. The white light disappeared, and she became aware of the world again.

Lews Therin!

She was lying on his bed, and he sat kneeled beside her, looking at her with a tired look on his face. She felt terribly weak, like a new born baby. Her whole body trembled, and it still echoed the immense agony it had gone through. Even her death had not been so painful.

"I can truly call you Mierin now," Lews Therin whispered. He almost smiled.

"What..." She coughed, almost choking in the breath she used for speaking. "What have you done to me?"

"You wanted you're soul back, didn't you? " He sighed, "Cour'souvra are guarded well, it wasn't easy to break the hold it had on your soul. I cannot say it is entirely yours now, but at least it is not his anymore.

"Whose is it?" She asked worridely. She will not be enslaved again!

"Mine." He looked bothered.

"What?!" She gasped, and tried to struggle herself up. Lews Therin pushed her back in the blankets again with an almost gentle gesture. "You have... what?"

He smiled entirely now, the laugh even touched his blue gray eyes. "I really know you well. Be eased, Mierin. I bonded you as my warder. I had to claim your soul from Moridin's Mind Trap, however, and that was the fight you felt. I am sorry it had to be fought in your body, but it was the only focus point I had."

"You bonded me as... your Warder?" She breathed, and she did not know whether she should be delighted or terribly angry.

"As your Warder?" Another voice echoed from behind them. Rand spun around, jumped off the bed and Cyndane - Should she call herself Mierin again? - managed to see who was standing there. It was Elayne again, and with her was a woman with dark curly hair. "You bonded her as your warder?" The dark girl said, astonished. Anger and surprise were visible on both women.

"You stubborn, foolish man! She is a Forsaken!" Elayne spat, stamping her feet on the floor with a strength that could have broken her ankle.

"For the time being," Lews Therin said coldly, "I have a debt to pay, and this is the only way I could think of to free her so she could help me pay it. And she belongs to the shadow no more, I have just severed her from all the ties she may have with the Shadow." Lews Therin stood erect, almost arrogantly smiling next to the bed.

"Did you?" Mierin - She was Mierin again! -asked, her voice still weak.

"I did. Don't be to eager, Mierin, I don't intend to keep your bond. I want Ilyena, then I will give it to someone else."

Mierin moaned and layed her arm over her eyes. She surely had ruined everything. Maybe I did not deserve that last chance. Maybe I should have just died. She thought depressed. But on the other hand, she was his warder. She was close to him. Perhaps there would be a chance again to make him hers.... Maybe he will be mine again. Perhaps there was a way she could convince him not to give someone else her bond.


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