In the shadows of the hallways Flame trailed soundless the Aes Sedai and Eval Ramman. She didn't dare to be too close lest the Forsaken might notice her. Her sense of hearing was excellent, but she could catch only snatches of their talk.
She was worried, Melissande Sedai appeared to be a honorable woman, but the Dark Sisters had laid siege to her principles and convictions. The recent conversation between Melissande, Carramaena L'Var and Sundara did nothing to quiet her worries. The Aes Sedai was trying to evade the proposal of the Shadow, of that Flame was sure, but how long could she continue so?
And now, this Eval Ramman. For her taste, he was much too talkative, even for a wetlander. But he was very charming, devastingly so. Flame noticed how the Aes Sedai listened more and more closely to him, sometimes nodding almost eagerly before catching herself.
I wished Dune were here. She could sniff their real emotions. I'm too far away. But her wolf companion had followed Al'cair to the Library. She began to fear for Melissande. Fear and more so Temptation are the strongest weapons of the Shadow. I should know it by now. Melissande Sedai needs a way back to her White Tower. A way to, relative, safety. She concentrated on her wolf link and called. Dune, I need you, near-sister! The call was heard and answered. Soon she would be here. Cautiously she continued to follow the Aes Sedai and the Forsaken.
Eval bowed slightly and offered his arm to Melissande. "Perhaps you would care to tour the palace?" He led her down the hallway. "This section is mainly for guests. The ground floor is almost entirely devoted to a frequent occupation of the Shadow -" she looked wary for a moment - "that is, partying."
Melissande laughed at that. "You must have guests often, then? Or are there more of you than I've met?"
"Well, there are a few more. We come and go. But yes, one of the reasons for parties is to, shall we say, display the pleasures of the Dark..." What was that? He paused, but the hall was silent. "My apologies. I had thought I heard something, but no doubt my imagination is playing tricks. Shall we continue?" He steered her down a side passage, but continued to listen carefully. His hearing was sharp, especially with saidin enhancing it, and he did not think he had imagined the sound at all.
"If I may change the subject, though, I happened to overhear the end of your conversation with the Sisters. Are the benefits of joining the Shadow perhaps beginning to grow on you..."
Eval Ramman, silver-tongued and sharp of hearing
Ulrike was discontent. Yes, the new library building was nice. Yes, the painstakingly assembled book listings had not even one mistake. She frowned. Maybe she was making a mountain out of a molehill as Al'cair claimed, but the reference system was definitely sub-standard. It should be less confusing. It was time to think about that. And for thinking she needed...
Ulrike headed to the kitchen, intend for a delicate snack and hot tea with a bit of the oosquai, flame had her recently gifted. On her way, she was nearly trampled down by the resident dragon brandishing a glow stick, and a joyful howling wolf.
He behaved so strange already for months. Until now she had firmly rebuffed his approaches to join his 'game'. She didn't know what this 'my padawan' stuff meant, but she resented it instinctively. Then Dune came and the wolf played happily along. Did Kiriath do something to them?
A tingle on her skin and a buzz in the ears told her that the portal stone had been activated. She still heard a sort of war cry, "We live to protect!", and then Al'cair and Dune were gone. A relieved sigh escaped her, sometimes this dragon was more trouble than he was worth.
Kiriath laughed softly, eyes whirling more colors than Joseph's technicolor 'dreamcoat' could ever ..ah.. dream of swirling. Woe to all - his previous lack of posts was due to a saturation of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters... bottomless, as per the tradition. And oosquai and ..other things...
This meant that a few new voices had appeared in his brain; one or two had ever surfaced outside. Fear, chuckled Kiriath as a recognized voice said the same.
"Eval's on to me. Or thinks he is. Shall we go through with the assault?" An impatient tone flecked his speech - the Sammael half was beginning to take over.
"Not yet, Sam... Sam?" For the first time in a long time, Kiriath was frightened. Samirhage had blocked his telepathy; in place of it, one quiet noise remained.
The Intrigleeman knew the noise at once - in an instant, his whirling eyes faded in and out, bringing him to his destination. Now side by side with Samirhage and watching Eval Ramman and Melissande, even the Eccentric Power could not foreshadow the consequences.
Kiriath, Eccentric Intrigleeman
Or the Psychic Schizophrenic ;)
"Yes, I've thought, but..." Melissande stopped. There was what could only be called an atmosphere of madness about the place. "Um, are you sure that was your imagination? Because suddenly the place feels veeer-rry strange. A lot like it did when I was talking to the crazy man Kiriath."
C'mon, she thought, don't I have enough insanity to cope with as it is?
The Dark One dreamed. Imprisoned beyond time and space, he watched the world, and dreamed dark dreams of freedom and dominion.
Reality, around the hole that opened onto the universe, spun itself to the texture of his thoughts. Snow fell, and vanished amidst the fires of Shayol Ghul as if it had never been - and as he changed his mind, it had not. But there was a disturbance. Something that did not mould itself to his will.
"Hey, big brother," a sweet voice whispered, "wake up and talk to us or I'll plague your dreams."
The Dark One sighed, and woke.
These two refused to kneel as his Chosen did. They sat casually at the edge of the lake of fire, leaning at their ease against rocks that should have been sharp. And, to his annoyance, it was snowing again.
"Greetings, brother," Sundara replied calmly. "You summoned us. For something interesting, I hope."
INTERESTING ENOUGH. LISTEN, SUNDARA. LISTEN, CARRAMAENA. HEAR WHAT MUST BE DONE TO ENSURE VICTORY...
As the Dark One spoke, his sisters listened, identical expressions of glee and intrigue appearing on their faces...
THE DARK ONE
Sundara listened, gleeful and intrigued, as her brother explained his ideas. This sounded like fun.
When he had finished, she laughed. "Oh, now that's good. You've outdone yourself this time, Shai'tan. So how do we go about this?"
--- NOTE: For the sake of secrecy and tantalizing the Lightfriends, the Dark One's words will be screened out of this conversation. Serves you right for spying. ---
"Are you sure? They're hardly what I'd call... competent."
She laughed again. "Clever! So this takes top priority?"
"What about the others?" Carramaena inquired.
They looked at each other and smiled. This promised to be interesting. "I assume we have full access to the True Power?"
"Of course you couldn't. Is there anything else we need to discuss?"
"Melissande? What about her?"
"Oh. Yes, I can see how that would be helpful. What about the others?"
"Ulrike? Flame? Kiriath? And Al'cair and Dune for that matter... "
"We'll take care of it. All right, when do you want this started? We're ready whenever you are."
"A pleasure talking with you, brother. See you soon."
With a flurry of snow to mark their going, the Dark Sisters vanished from the Pit of Doom. They reappeared where they had left from earlier, in the now-empty hallway.
Sundara looked at Carra. Carra looked at Sundara. Both wore identically wicked grins.
"This is going to be fun..."
The Darkness withdrew his mind from the hall quickly. The Dark Sisters presence had dissapeared, or, more presicley, had moved to somwhere where the could not be detected. Shayol Ghul. The Dark One had plans, and that was never good. He had no respect for the pattern. Were he to become free, he would destroy the pattern and bring chaos. That did not serve the patterns purpose.He should do something. But, on the other hand, he still had no idea what the plan was. Acting against him now would commit himself totally. No, he would wait for that.
The assembley of others that had moved into the throne room, waited quietly, most likely shocked as well by ths news of the Dark One's plan. An odd group, a wolf and a dragon, an Aiel woman, an Aes Sedai, a Forsaken, and this Ulrike. And, in the shadows, one of those who's thoughts spewed madness. An eccentric. Very odd group indeed. Maybe he should make his presence known. Something dramatic. An explosion? Smoke? No ... Ah yes, that's it.
The light in the room eclipses behind a shadow, and a deep voice whispers "I am here". The Darkness is here.
" Greetings all. How are we on this fine night? Seeing as how we are all friends here, why don't we all come out and have a chat? Yes, even those in the shadows." The Darkness smiled to himself. The Dark One had a plan, but so did he.
"In the shadows, or in the Shadow?" Eval enquired blandly. He strolled out into the middle of the throne room. "Ah well, no matter. I'm glad to hear we're all friends, so on behalf of my Lady and her sister, allow me to welcome you all to their Palace." Eval made a sweeping gesture. "Do please be seated, all of you."
He suited his own words, making sure Melissande was sitting comfortably before taking a chair himself. Leaning back, long legs sprawled out, he smiled pleasantly at the... Darkness. "A fine entrance, I must say. Did you want to chat about anything in particular?"
"All right," Sundara said softly, glancing around, "so we've got that planned out? I'll go talk to the other Chosen - you create a little confusion among the Lightfriends we've got hanging around. Then we get started. Right?"
"Right," Carra agreed, smiling. "Have fun."
"Likewise." As Carra left for the throne room, Sundara opened a gateway into her rooms in the White Tower.
Kiriath giggled inanely. And blinked, his eyes whirling frantically. "I'm going ...odder..." he whistled. He opened a skimmer and laid back along his black leather spy chair, not opening the rear and keeping the big nasty pointy pit open. Nice.
He crossed his arms and craned them behind his head, plotting how best to murder the word 'and'. The Grapes of Wrath were fun to munch on, especially in a Pan Galactic Martini Blaster, but not pleasant to read. He shook his head. Honors American and Eccentricity DO mix.
He stared forward, into Darkness. And smiled, steepling another pair of fingers on hands that came out of nowhere. Ah, Eccentricity is beauti... wait... that famous chill up Padan Shin's spine. Plans being formulated...
"Where's Carra and Sunny? You can't have a discussion without a Dark Sister or two, you know."
Kiriath, Eccentric Intrigleeman
What're these Dark One plans?
He moves silently, yet quickly, down the hallway. Just like me to be late whenever something important happens. Maybe I should start paying better attention to what's going on. The tall, dark-clad figure makes his way into the throne room, the meeting already in progress.
"Sorry I'm late everyone. Would you believe me if I told you the traffic was bad?"
The current speaker, seeming somewhat transparent to the eye, stops and turns towards him. All the others follow his eyes, focusing on the lone man, whom, by the look in his dark eyes seems rather... could that be... embarrassed?
"Did I miss anything? Uh, better late than never..."
"You didn't miss anything important, at any rate. There couldn't have been anything important said if I wasn't here." Carra sauntered into the throne room behind the newcomer. "Well, hello everyone. What brings you all here?" Reaching for some of Kiriath's grapes, she sat down on the throne. It was her's after all.
"Hmm?" she inquired after a moment of silence. "Cat got your tongues? No, she can't have - I haven't seen her around in a while and I never heard she had a taste for tongues, either." She waited. "Well? You were about to have a discussion. So by all means, go on, discuss. I'm absolutely fascinated."
Carramaena, wondering if she's the only person around
"Door," muttered Kiriath quietly, reaching for one of those grapes Carra had so Eccentrically mentioned. "Call on the door." His eyes blinked at himself. "Callandor," he whispered. That must be part of the Foretelling!
You will find your lost love, though all will not be as it once was. The Rings are the key to the locked Door, Mashiara had said around the first he had met her. Where was she, anyway? A lone droplet of salty water trailed down his cheek... he frowned.. until his eyes widened.
"Call on the door to bring Tear to me." Kiriath steepled his fingers. "Carra, I think maybe there is something of interest going on after all." His eyes whirled, their pupils slowly changing into....
Kiriath, Psychedelic Schizophrenic
Slowly, I become Eccentric...
"You do? I'm glad to hear it!" Carramaena considered for a moment, then took the rest of Kiriath's grapes. "Thank you. Very tasty." Then she looked over to the painting hanging on one wall of the room. "Oh, and while we're not on the subject, I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who knows what I'm talking about." That other world popped up now and again, and it seemed several of the company had vanished into it now...
"So, Kir, what's..." Her eyes whirled as an Eccentric interpretation of her intended question occurred to her. "What, other than the sky, clouds, and so forth, is up?"
Carramaena, the girl with kaleidoscope eyes