Posted June 27-July 31, 1999
Category: WoT Alternate Reality
Author: various

Melissande

Melissande muttered under her breath as she looked around her, in language that her sisters would have been shocked to hear. This ter'angreal was supposed to take her into Tel'aran'rhiod but she was sure this place had no reflection in reality. Flowers growing up through snow as warm as summer. Crystal goblets growing from trees. What kind of a place was this?

She slipped closer, keeping behind the trees, to hear what the people were saying. Her eyes widened as she listened. The Dark? Those two women belonged to the Dark Side? And the others knew it, and weren't doing anything about it? What in all the Light was going on here? She took a step back - and slipped in the snow. Everyone turned to look at her.

Melissande Amaline Isten,
Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah


The Intrigleeman, head of rambling spies in nearly every corner of the Randland, sighed. Once again he was studying his life-force powered map. Once again, a new stone had appeared out of nowhere. A blue stone, nothing more, nothing less. Yet. So...

His eyes blinked out and blinked to greet the Blue, extracting a shocked response from her. "Who in heck are you? Where in heck am I?" she asked, using a few aforementioned Choice Words.

Kiriath bowed, "Kiriath the Eccentric gleeman, dear Blue." He smiled, "Before answering the second, who are you?"

"Melissande of the Blue ajah," replied she, calmly.

Kiriath nodded, transferring the name and allowing his Eccentricities to ramble all of its possible connotations. "Not bad," he mused, but shook his head.

"You are in a dimension of Imagination, Aes Sedai. Not the Twilight Zone, which occurs when falling during a Skim, but ... this place does not have a name. It is simply an alternate world, where all things remain the same - but the Dark Sisters dominate and the Knights of the Light party with them quite intriguingly. None of us are sure where it came from - we only know that this world is the true world, but not the world as you previously knew it." He smiled at her blank expression. "You have just experienced Eccentricity, Aes Sedai. The power of rambling is great indeed."

He frowned, perking an eyebrow. "Speaking of rambling, Carra wanted me. Where IS she?"

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
A dimension of Eccentric rambling...


Sundara turned to see the newcomer, and smiled. "I asked if there were more unexpected guests, and here one is!" she said brightly. "Hello, Melissande. Don't mind Kiriath, he's insane. You must have been trying to enter Tel'aran'rhiod..." At the Blue sister's dazed nod, she continued. "Well, somehow you seem to have been caught up in an eddy, and you've ended up in my dream instead.

"Don't worry, though. You can leave easily enough if you want to. But why not stay a while and enjoy yourself?"

Sundara


Melissande frowned at the dark-haired woman. She didn't look familiar, but she sounded it. "I'm sure I know you from somewhere -" Then it clicked, and she took a step back, shocked. This was another Aes Sedai! "Wait until the Tower finds out what you're up to!" She grasped the ter'angreal firmly and willed herself back in the real world.

Nothing happened. She tried again.

"Oh, damn..."

Melissande of the Blue Ajah


"I don't think the Tower will be finding out any time soon," Sundara said calmly. "I'm sorry, Melissande. You'll be in the Dream for a while."

She tapped a finger to her lip thoughtfully. (No, I'm not Mesaana!) What was she going to do now? Someone was certainly going to be suspicious if Melissande slept much longer than her normal time. Well, it wasn't midnight yet, outside, so she had time to work something out.

"Don't worry, you're perfectly safe. You just can't leave." She grinned suddenly, mischieviously. "Unless you want to join the Shadow?" Carra's laughter and Flame's outraged protest came nearly simultaneously.

Sundara (of the Brown Ajah, by the way)


"Join the shadow?" inquired Kiriath.
"Nah." Kiriath blinked, shaking and clearing his head. Again the head said, "Nah."
"What in the holy hand grenade?"
Melissande stood there, talking to Sundara. The head had been Mashiara's - on Melissande. Kir sighed, muttering about rambling. Still, an idea came up from its deep depths... "Hey Sunny!"

Up went the traditional eyebrow. "Yes?"

"Where's the point in any of us trying to recruit already?"

"Your point?" asked Sundara, eyes ready to roll.

"How about a party?" Kiriath winked. "There seem to be enough people around here at the moment..." and a nod to Melissande. "Like I said, the White Tower won't care." Back to Sundara. "Will it?" With a grin. "I wonder if I have a few agents... or if YOU do..."

Kiriath, Eccentric Intrigleeman
Ni! for lack of a better closure


Melissande tried the ter'angreal again, failed, sighed, and listened to Sundara. "Join the Shadow? Hmm, what do I get if I do?" Then she clapped a hand over her mouth, shocked. "I don't believe I said that!"

"How about a party?" the strange man in the patchwork cloak inquired. Melissande looked at him, then looked back at Sundara. "Is he totally nuts?"

"Yes."

She thought about that. "Oh well - I suppose that is a pretty good answer. All right then. You claim I won't come to any harm in this dream of yours, so since you're not going to let me go yet -" Melissande shrugged. "Let's party, then. Hey, crazy man, wanna dance?"

Melissande Amaline Isten,
Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah

Things are getting stranger all the time...


Sundara exchanged a triumphant grin with Carra. Melissande was definitely coming over to their way of thinking! "Just a moment," she chided. "This is a rest spot, not a party spot. It's my dream, humour me." With that, she changed their surroundings to a huge hall, sparkling with the light of hundreds of lamps, musicians on a stage at one end. Another thought, and they were all dressed for a ball. She smiled.

"Now let's party."

Sundara


Cat looked around her. The arrival of Melissande had been interesting for a while, but now things were just seguing into yet another party... She shrugged and disappeared. There was, after all, another guest on the premises.

Back in the Dark Palace, she quickly found out which suite 'The Darkness' had been lodged in, and watched him for a while, sitting in cat-form on the windowsill. This stranger was certainly interesting. After another moment, she switched back to the familiar form of the tawny-eyed, black-haired woman, still in the black evening gown Sundara had dreamed for her.

"Hello, Darkness."

He turned around, looking not startled so much as mildly surprised. "And who might you be?"

"I might be a lot of people. But as it happens, I am the Black Cat. I do have a name, but I prefer not to use it. You may call me Cat." She leaned back against the window. "I find you very interesting, Darkness. You seem to be a creature with definite similarities to myself. Would you object to telling me something of your nature?"

~The Black Cat


"Yes, let's." Strangely, his attire was not too different than earlier - apparently, his Eccentric power was able to counter Sunny's dreaming itself - and smiled.

His patchwork cloak made him a thing of the shadows, his arms, legs, and head seeming to be alone. "Dancing sounds like an idea, Melissa.. if I may call you that." He bows courteously. "And, of course, if dancing with a partially invisible character does not bother you."

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
Dance Dae'mar begins again!


Flame shook ruefully her head. The Aes Sedai looked overwhelmed, Sundara's surprise tactics were working well. Still, she must try.

Before Melissande could follow Kiriath to the dance floor, Flame held her back.

"Aes Sedai, a word of advise. Maybe you think you have no choice, but don't let Sundara win so easily. We all here have a strong policy against bloodshed."

Flame could not suppress a smirk. "Even in the last war the Dark Sisters fought against the Forces of Light nobody was hurt. Well, sometimes we play pranks," with a great effort of willpower Flame finally managed to change the showy ball gown back to her cadin'sor, "we yell and taunt and sheme, but usually we get along. And it is considered bad manners to exclude someone from the parties. So don't believe the Dark Sisters' words."

Melissande a bit looked confused and unbelieving.

"I know you have honor, Aes Sedai." Flame added, "Speak first with the other, maybe Ulrike. She must be close by, I think. You might find her or her winged friend interesting.

Please take your time and think about it. Here in the dreamworld time flows differently than in the waking world."

Flame
It's a question of honor...


"Flame, you spoilsport!" Carra complained. "We were having fun." She turned to Melissande. "She's right - sort of. We never make anyone join us. But believe me, Dark Sisters have the best time." She nodded to the pair and turned away, then paused. "Hey, Sundara - one man, four women, while it might be fun for Kiriath it's not the best recipe for a dance party. Think you could see your way clear to providing a few more guests?"

Carramaena L'Var
It's not a question of honor, it's a question of fun.


"Why not?" Sundara concentrated for a moment. Suddenly, upwards of a hundred people, of all ages and nationalities, appeared in the room.

"They're all dreaming at the moment - I just pulled them into my dream." She looked pointedly at Melissande. "And they won't remember this when they wake up, so it won't do any good to tell anyone who we are." Then she paused. "By the way - you're Blue, so I assume you side with the rebel faction?" She pointed to one end of the room. "Elaida's over there, if you want to tell her what you think of her."

She smiled and walked off toward a little knot of guests. "Enjoy yourself."

Sundara


"If I want to?" Melissande looked over in the direction Sundara had pointed, and spotted Elaida. "Sorry - Kiriath, is it? We'll have to postpone that dance - this is something that can't wait." She walked across the room, tapped the 'Amyrlin' on the shoulder, and let fly.

"Dear Light, that was enjoyable," she observed, returning a few minutes later. The Dark did seem to have advantages... No, Melissande told herself firmly, she was not joining the Dark. From what she'd seen and heard, they apparently had strong objections to forcing anyone to join, so there wasn't a lot they could do.

Except tempt her, of course, and these Dark Sisters seemed to make an art of temptation. She hadn't had so much fun in years.

Melissande Amaline Isten
Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah
President of the Elaida-Haters Club


"My nature, eh? Well, It seems you are somekind of shapeshifter. I am not a being like that. I am what you would call an elemental. I am made up of darkness. I was created to balance the war between the light and dark. (oh and by the way for those of you who seem to automatically assume that I have sided with the dark, I haven't decided who to side with). Now, as for you. What sort of creature are you? You are very beutiful, graceful, and intreging from what I can tell.

The Darkness, I haven't taken sides yet...


"Interesting." Cat considered that. "Well, you're not quite as like me as I thought, but there are similarities. I too do not side with either Dark or Light, but I was not created to balance anything, to my knowledge: I simply am. If I serve anything - other than myself - I suppose it would be chaos. I am both feline and human in nature, and can take either form, or anything in between. I have certain other powers. There are other beings like me, but I am the most powerful."

She gave a sudden catsmile (well, what other kind?) "Take my advice - don't take sides yet. Life's much more fun in the twilight. Although if you're not here to help the Dark - why are you here?"

(Beautiful, graceful and intriguing, hmm? Well, like every cat, I love to be admired.)

~The Black Cat


Bloody Dark's rusty and it STILL knows how to tempt. And a Blue, at th-- "Melissa?" asked Kiriath. At the turn of her head, he bowed as best he could with only his limbs and head showing. "You've forgotten about the dance.."

She chuckled. "Of course not, crazy man," letting Kir's eyes begin whirling Eccentrically. "Good. Considering that dancing is the most important part of a party. Especially parties in this dimension."

He winked. "Melissa, would you allow me to introduce you to a ditty called Dance Dae'mar?"

Kiriath, Eccentric Intrigleeman
Dance Dae'mar resurrects itself...


Well, well well.
Back at last, thought Serafelle, and set down the bag of books on the nearest chair. Strange; the study wasn't in the least bit dusty. Not that any dust bunny would DARE show its face in HER study, but still. A few specks were to be expected.

Another party was probably going on.

There always had been before.

She washed her face and changed clothes. No red this time, no green, and definitely not brown. Black suited her better, in her opinion; perhaps it always had. And the heavy silver jewelry matched the black gloves so well. It was the plainest dress in her entire wardrobe, a high-necked, unrelieved black, with Seanchan-type sleeves.

Her hair, however, was being as impossible as usual. Instead of the more typical upswept Cairhienin style she wore often, she simply wrapped a black scarf around it, tying firmly. "Time to go," she said aloud, and the cat miaowed. "No, Nemesis, you are most certainly NOT going. I am going. You are a CAT. Cats are not customarily invited to parties." The cat, whose fur was now completely black, growled. "Oh, FINE then. Follow me, but try to behave this time. I don't know why you follow ME, I don't like cats, I really don't."

Serafelle scraped a gateway out of the pattern, and walked through the other side; just before she let the weaves collapse, Nemesis hurtled out. "Next time, ignore the mice," she told the cat admonishingly, and went through the doors.

People were dancing, of course. A few familiar faces greeted her eyes, and a few new ones, as well. For a moment, the Aes Sedai simply stood there and watched the dancers.

Serafelle Ismene al'Cormiere,
Sister of the Brown Ajah,
Etc.


Kiriath crossed his arms. "I'm waiting," he said as Melissande simply stood there, blankly or some such. Whatever the case, she still hadn't accepted the dance. He was courteous, so he waited... but still looked around...

Go figure. In the far dark corner... could it be Nightfall? Nahh... but then... just maybe. And in the other, less dark, area... Serafelle. THAT could be believed. Whatever the case, it wouldn't be courteous to go bugger her right now. At least for the moment...

"Melissande? Could I have this dance?"

Kiriath, Undercover Intrigleeman
I'm I'm redundant redundant :P


It's so nice to be back, thought Mashiara to herself, and stalked onto the dance floor, espying her old mentor (though technically speaking neither old nor her mentor) Kiriath talking to some strange woman.
It would be best not to bother them, she knew. It wouldn't be polite, and besides, she had absolutely no idea who the other woman was. It could be anyone; Kiriath surely had contacts everywhere, from the depths of the earth to the moon itself, probably, and the woman could be anyone from a hired killer to the Queen of Siam. Wherever Siam was. It would definitely best not to bother them.

Which was why she immediately went up to Kiriath and tapped him on the shoulder imperiously.

She never did what was expected of her if she could help it.

"Kiriath. I'm back," was all she said, and he could either ignore her or talk to her. Chaos was fun.

Mashiara Shaidar,
Lady Chaos


"Mashy!" jumped Kir. Actually, he didn't jump, but his rambling certainly jumped about 3.583 kilometers a nanosecond squared faster. "Where were you? Buggering Sammael still?"
To keep his rambling under control, he perused the surroundings. Melissande dancing with him, Sundara controlling the party... suddenly, his eyes began whirling faster. "Care to take a guess at a special event coming up in a month or so?"

"Your Eccentric anniversary of the first day your humerus created your insanity or the dishonorable birthday of your cousin's brother's nephew's second cousin that you never knew but knew that I knew you didn't have?"

Blood and ashes, Mashy IS learning. Too quickly. "One word was right, Mashy. In about a month here, my birthday will be coming up." OOCly August 23rd, for the heck of it. "I'm debating holding a party of my own for once." He winked, "I want presents, you see."

Kiriath, Eccentric Intrigleeman
Ni!


A she-wolf entered the party dream and trotted to an ill-humored Aiel girl followed by an unlikely pair - a tiny woman and a golden, winged dragon. Flame's face brightened visibly. "I see you, Ulrike."
"Greetings, Flame. Now what is the party cause this time?"
"A new arrival - Melissande Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah." Flame pointed out a bit forlorn looking woman.
"Ahh, I see - temptation, isn't it."
Flame nodded sullenly. "They - I mean the Dark Sisters are wooing another guest, the 'Darkness'. But I think," here she smirked, "that the Black Cat already has dug her claws into him." She shrugged. "Any way, what took you so long?"
"Don't ask, I held Al'cair's paw until he got over his hangover. Too much champagne. I never want to see again a dragon who can not stop to throw up." Ulrike shuddered at this thought. "Now, who else is here?"

~Ulrike


Sundara sauntered over to welcome the latest guest. "Hi, Ulrike! Welcome to my dream." She glanced over at the dragon. "Al'cair - glad to see you're all right. But you do realise your hangover was purely psychosomatic, don't you? That champagne only existed in Tel'aran'rhiod." From the look on the golden dragon's face, he hadn't realised.

"Anyway. Serafelle's here, Cat was briefly, Mashiara just arrived, Flame and Dune here, Kiriath, Carra and me, and you must meet Melissande. Plus a number of random dreamers I brought in to swell the crowd."

She paused, signalling a serving man with a tray of glasses (including non-alcoholic drinks for hungover dragons). "Kiriath's birthday is coming up, by the way. Any ideas? What do you get the madman with everything?"

Sundara


Eval Ramman knelt in the Pit of Doom.

"Where is she, Great Lord?"

YOU LIKE HER BETTER THAN YOU LIKE ME. The Dark One's voice was actually sulky. Not finding anything to contradict in the statement, Eval wisely remained silent.

YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE *MY* CHOSEN! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME IN THE LAST YEAR, EVAL RAMMAN?

"But Great Lord, I thought you wanted us to keep an eye on your sisters..."

THAT DOES NOT NECESSITATE BEING BONDED BY ONE OF THEM!

"That wasn't my fault!"

I TOLD YOU TO BE CAREFUL AROUND HER! AND DID YOU LISTEN? OF COURSE NOT...

"I'll work harder in future. I promise. Now will you please let me go?"

VERY WELL THEN.

Eval abruptly found himself falling through a rift in the Pattern. Down he fell, far down through blackness, for what seemed an Age. He barely had time to notice that his surroundings had changed when the fact was sharply brought home to him - Eval Ramman, blademaster, lord of darkness, Chosen of the Great Lord, hit the ground with a resounding crash.

As the stars cleared from his eyes, he found himself staring at a pair of silver slippers. His gaze went up to the wearer of the slippers, to a pair of dark eyes sparkling with suppressed laughter. Of course. It was inevitable.

Eval regained his feet, dusted himself off, acknowledged the stares and giggles with a gracious nod, then bowed to Sundara.

"My lady," he observed dryly. Oh, the Great Lord had a sense of humour, right enough. "It seems that once again I find myself falling at your feet."

Eval Ramman
The BBS Rambler
Warder to Sundara of the Dark Brown Ajah


Sundara fought to keep a delighted grin from her face. Eval back on top of everything else! Things were certainly going well for her at the moment.

"Good evening, Eval Ramman," she greeted him in an equally sardonic tone. "What brings you here - and in such dramatic fashion?" She suspected the mischief of her elder brother. Watch out, Shai'tan, she thought to him. I don't mind you playing tricks on your Chosen, but don't try them on me!

"Your brother," her Warder responded, confirming her guess, "has a - unique - sense of humour. I asked him to let me go. He did."

This time she failed to keep the grin from appearing, nor the laughter from bubbling up. "Well, let me make my brother's trouble up to you. Did that crash knock you dizzy, or would you like to dance?"

Sundara
Lady of the Shadows
Holder of the bond of the BBS Rambler


The Darkness swirled into existence in the dream of Sundara. He greeted the hostess with a graciuos bow, and for effect, reached into his billowy blackness to pull out a bouquet of pitch black roses. Then, sauntered over to take a seat in the corner. It's time the party got a little more exciting...

The Darkness



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