Carra tapped her fingers, bored for no particular reason. "Are we having a party soon?" she asked, and got shocked looks from the other three. "Well, why not? Don't we always have parties soon?" She blinked. "All of a sudden I feel very strange..."
She started to stand up, then sank back into the chair as her head started to spin. "Oh, no," she sighed, "not again."
Her voice came from somewhere far away. "The Door to Chaos has been opened and it cannot be closed... The way through Chaos is through the Dream. Unless dinner is fish again, in which case all bets are off."
She smiled sleepily and wandered out of the room, only then noticing that she was standing up. She made up for it by falling through the gateway that appeared in front of her.
"Is she drunk?" she heard Ulrike exclaim as the gateway closed.
"Close enough," and for some reason Carra couldn't quite work out at the moment, Sundara sounded annoyed. "She's overdosing on the EP again."
OD on EP
"And in the condition she's in, she won't notice if she walks right through the Door. Go after her, Eval, and stay with her. Ramble at her if you have to, but don't let her out of your sight." Sundara frowned in annoyance. "Of all the times for this to happen! But then, it may not be coincidence. The leakage from the Door is bound to affect her in some way. What she said, though..."
She turned quickly through Mirrors of the Wheel. "'The only way through Chaos is through the Dream...' That might have been a genuine Foretelling. All the worlds connect through the World of Dreams; it might just be the only way to reach Chaos without going through the Door itself. Although what fish has to do with anything... I have to confess I'm lost there. Ah, here it is; this is the part where my copy breaks off."
She read the page, then sighed. "This confirms it. All right." She took a deep breath. "I'm going to have to go in through Tel'aran'rhiod and bring them out. There isn't any other way."
Sundara, dreamwalker and not looking forward to this dream
"Can we help somehow?" Ulrike asked quietly.
She felt bad knowing her friends were in danger and she sat idle. But tel'aran'rhiod was not her field of expertise, she knew that. She just assumed the dark-haired man lurking in the background was also interested in a solution to this dilemma.
"I doubt it. Neither of you are dreamwalkers. You'd just be in my way." She paused. "No offense meant. To be truthful, I'd be more than glad of the company, but you can't follow me there." She bit her lip, then stopped, not wanting either of them to see how nervous she was. Nervous? That was an understatement.
"Or - There is something you can do. You can come as far as Tel'aran'rhiod itself; physical travel probably isn't a good idea, but I have ter'angreal that will take you there."
"To do what?"
"To be - a beacon? An anchor? I'm not sure what the correct metaphor would be in this situation... to hold a region of the Dream steady for us to come back to." She tilted her head. "You do know how? Impose your will on the surrounding environment - prevent it from changing. I can show you - it's a quick enough trick to learn."
"I can do it. One can not live with a Wolf Sister and you Dark Sisters without picking up the basics."
Ulrike glanced questioningly to the other man and added: "But a short refreshing course would be appreciated. If only to avoid misunderstandings between us. I believe Flame's terminology may be a bit different than yours."
"Very well, let us begin..."
An unseen world? Ares nodded to no one in particular. Briefly, he wondered what a ter'angreal was. He tried to ask Arie, but oddly enough, she seemed to be.....gone.
Oh well. Something to worry about, perhaps, but later. "So, we're going to physically enter a dream?"
At the affirmative he received, Ares shrugged. It would be a new experience, if nothing else. "Just show me the door."
"Physically in a way. You will be dreaming, but experience it as if you were there." She rose to her feet, reaching for the True Power. "I will bring the ter'angreal - and leave you here. No doubt the Library is well protected, but I prefer to sleep where my brother stands guard."
Opening a gateway, she crossed through into her turret room in the Dark Palace. "I think I have some here..." She rummaged through a carved box. "Yes, here." With two objects in her hands, she went back through into the Library. "Ulrike, this one is for you."
She held out an oddly twisted sculpture, seemingly of crystal but next to unbreakable. "Channel a single flow of Spirit through it and it will take you straight into the Dream. Ares, this is yours." The second ter'angreal was a silver disc with an eye engraved on it. "It doesn't require channeling; just sleep with it touching your skin. And since you might have trouble sleeping, take this as well." From a fold of her skirt she took a tiny glass bottle. "Drink this, and I guarantee you'll go to sleep faster than you ever have in your life. Now, excuse me. When you're in the Dream, stay here. Don't try to find me; I'll find you." She stepped back through the gateway, closing it behind her.
Sister of the Dark
Through the dream?
Kiriath had tried that back in the Age of Legends - it was a decidedly unpleasant experience. Of course, back then, there were Forsaken and much, much worse. Male channelers; somehow, the gleeman thought even Notumar was able to crawl through dreams...
Then again, in this Age, there were Dark Sisters.
Who needs Forsaken ... ack, pardon, Eval. And Sammael, wherever the frell he ran.
Two, three stones were trapped within two levels of the parallel-dimension board and another was going underway - things were boiling, and Kiriath wanted to jump into this one. Trapped between Chaos and this world might end up with a few answers. Or questions.
Kiriath was rooting for the latter. It was always more fun.
Sir Kiriath Machin Ni, Eccentric Intrigleeman
Somehow, with this Door open, Arie had managed to free herself from Ares. Well... only semir-free herself. She could still feel herself rooted in his mind, but most of hers was free now. Of course, being a mind wasn't too useful in the real world, but in this world of dreams...
She noticed the man and his board with stones on them. Some of the stones, a few, seemed to be changing form. She wanted to ask him what was happening; as he appeared to be oddly informed about things, if totally mad. One of those times a physical form would have been nice.
Hmmm... maybe she could communicate with him telepathically, or something. With everything else that was possible around here, she thought she'd try.
ahh....hello...i was wondering.....
Right about now, she was feeling a bit foolish.
do you think you could explain to me something of what's going on here? I lost ares somewhere, and i....
"Hi, Kiriath!" Carra caught her balance on the other side of the gateway, feeling very proud of herself. "I'm calling an Eccentric conference. You can come too," she added generously to Arie. "You're pretty Eccentric."
She sat down opposite the gleemaniac. "You can be the secretary. And you can be the treasurer. And I get to be the vice-president, because I'm a Dark Sister." Then she pouted. "But we don't have a president!"
Just then, another gateway opened nearby, and she turned around to see who it was. "Eval!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands in delight. "Come conference with us! You can be president!"
Carramaena - this is all your fault, Kiriath!
Eval bowed gravely as the red-haired Dark Sister jumped up to greet him. "I would be honoured to be president, Carra. May I help you to your seat?" He took a firm hold of her arm and escorted her back to a chair before she fell over again. She smiled dreamily back at him.
"And what is the subject of this conference?" he enquired, seating himself next to her.
"Secretary, hm?" Which of course meant the gleeman could toy with records all he bloody wanted, ridiculing the others and elevating his own... what?
"And treasurer?" That rung something interesting. Something he had tried pulling off - renovations to the Tower of Ghenjei. Somehow, it had never worked. The Finns always ...well... saw through his plans.
The gleeman had another question on the way, but the question-answer somewhere in his Dreaming brain knocked it away, giving his thoughts more food for ramble.
You, isn't it?
It's me, all right.
I think so. But how can I be...
Hold on. I'll explain.
Kiriath coughed gently, smiling with a trace of knowledge soon to be disclosed, whether the intricacies would be known to all or not. The latter, of course, being infinitely more likely.
"It appears that the first truly Eccentric Bond has just occured; somehow, Arie separated herself from Ares, as you can tell. The Psycho Music, you see, has somehow bestowed some Eccentricity upon her. It's the best guess I can throw.
However she came across her Eccentric nature, Arie - and the voices in her essence - came in search of me.
They found me. "
With a characteristic grin, the gleeman lounged back in his Skimming chair, gliding it out of that parallel dimension and into the current reality. "I think we have just found a subject for this conference, Eval."
Sir Kiriath Machin Ni, Eccentric Intrigleeman
The effects have yet to be seen. . .
Alone now in her tower room, Sundara seated herself, leaning back amidst silken cushions. "Guard me well, eldest brother," she murmured, then closed her eyes, beginning to breathe deeply. As she had trained herself, she fell into sleep almost immediately.
She stood in her room in Tel'aran'rhiod, seemingly the same, yet subtly different in ways that could not be pinned down. The Dream, at least, had not been altered by Chaos - as yet.
Then she was in Dragon's Library, watching as the forms of Ulrike and Ares flickered into existence.
"Are you ready?" she asked calmly.
Sister of the Dark
Ulrike took the time to change into something more comfortable before she curled into her favorite armchair. Her companion - Ares, Sundara had called him - lay already sprawled on the couch, eyes closed. She eyed him curiously. They had not time to get to know each other and she was a bit uneasy to rely on an unknown ally, but it couldn't helped.
She embraced saidar and channeled the tiniest amount of Spirit into the ter'angreal -
- to find herself in tel'aran'rhiod.
It had been easier than expected. Though she felt the thread of Spirit 'wriggle' she had no difficulties to hold it. Probably because the amount of saidar is so very small, she thought.
Then Sundara appeared next to her. "Are you ready?"
"Yes, I am."
Ares took the... ter'angreal... he thought they'd called it and stretched himself on a couch that happened to be nearby. Settling himselfinto its cushions, the last thought he had before he dropped off was a faint worry about Arie and where she could be...
With a start, he opened his eyes. The world looked real enough, but it just felt different.
Hoping he had made it to this world of dreams, he looked around. Sure enough, Sundara and Ulrike were already there, and looking at him as if expecting an answer.
"What?" he asked, slightly confuzzlepated. "Oh, yeah, I'm ready."
"I'll go over the basics, then. Pay attention. This is how you hold a part of the Dream steady..."
She went through the technique quickly. "The essential point," she finished, "is to imagine the reality you want and hold that firmly in your mind. Details will fluctuate, but the main features of the landscape should stay solid unless someone else intervenes to change it. If they do - you'll have to deal with it. I'll be busy elsewhere."
"Let's go," she added. Tel'aran'rhiod shimmered around them, and they stood in a field of snow. Stars glittered icily in the sky above, yet there was no sense of cold at all.
"This is my personal dreamscape. It should be more resistant to interference than Tel'aran'rhiod proper, and I know it well. It also lends itself to the fantastic." She looked thoughtful. "A metaphor - yes." Picking up a ball of snow, she spun it in her fingers. When she stopped, it was a ball of silver thread.
Tying one end to a convenient tree, she took the other in her hand, winding it around her wrist to secure it. "Wish me luck." She took a deep breath, and started walking.
The Dream shifted around her. She was standing outside Tar Valon, but the thread still stretched back into invisibility. She kept walking.
The Blight. Arad Doman. The Tower of Ghenjei. The Dark Palace. And then she was in darkness - no, darkness had no ability to make her shiver as though fingers of ice had touched her back. She was in Chaos.
She clenched her fist around the silver thread.
Now where were they? This was not a place she wanted to stay any longer than possible. She was acutely aware that even the Shadow held no sway here.
Flame... Dune... Al'cair'rahien... She closed her eyes, trying to pick up traces. Flame... Dune... Al'cair'rahien...
Sundara, a very nervous dreamwalker
Carra sighed, and twined a lock of hair through her fingers. She smiled at the way it caught the light in red and gold. "A subject?" she said absent-mindedly. "But I thought we already had one. I wanted to talk about the Chaos Gate..." She stopped, staring into space. "Where did I hear that name? Oh. It's happening again."
"Happening again..." another voice whispered through her.
"Who are you?"
"Not me - You're just an echo, aren't you?"
Carra sighed again.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't think I'm going to be much help here. The Chaos Gate's leaking EP by the tankerful and I haven't tried handling this much before. I guess you're used to it, Kir, but if Arie's picking up Eccentricity she might be in trouble too before long."
"And you can shut up." Then Carra looked back at the hair wound around her hand and smiled, forgetting the conference again. "Look at all the pretty colours."
"By the tankerful?" laughed Kiriath genuinely. "Very likely more. Undoubtedly more, shall I rephrase. I'm betting Arie has near no idea what she's getting into."
Don't worry about that.
"Take that back. She's in my head - she's learning, slowly. Might be a force to be reckoned with, eventually.
"The Door to Chaos, you suggested? It's warping our world in ways that will continue to manifest themselves, some Ways more obvious than others." Was that a Foretelling? Very well could have been - the Chaos Door seems to be giving these things... well... by the tankerful. Or is it the Eccentric equivalent, a true power of its own?
...sa'sara, blue cloak...
Where did that come from? That sounded almost Dark Sisterly... intriguing, though; Kiriath conceded that point. Something seemed decidedly intriguing.
It was Arie.
"I wonder..." mused Kiriath. "If voices in my head come out and talk to me, could the same happen across an eccentric Bond? It might patch up this Ares bit... and add more Eccentricity to the mix."
...and with Ares heading nearer and nearer to Chaos, declared his stones board...
Sir Kiriath Machin Ni
Still as Eccentric as ever, but there IS a change...
An Eccentric bond?
and she the bonder... or was she the bondee?
and the occasional answer only bringing more.... well... questions
a physical form would really be helpful right now.
but somehow, she was aware of all that was happening, which was probably a good thing
and Eccentric Power leaking, and voices between bonds, and a Chaos Gate swinging wide open...
what exactly is a bond, anyway?
it seemed to be a familiar thing to these people
then, hearing Carra mention the conference that was being held and the Chaos Gate... what exactly was that? she agreed with her. this whole Chaos, leaking EP situation appeared very dire indeed
but more importantly, what is this Chaos Gate and why... er... how is it affecting everything?
Eval growled under his breath. Every time Carra reached a halfway coherent state, something kicked her out of it again. It was distinctly frustrating.
"They are pretty colours, Carra," he agreed to be polite.
He ignored the echo and turned to Kiriath. While he was essentially here as the Dark Sister's keeper, there was no harm in picking up as much information as possible at the same time. And he was confused.
"Kiriath - and Arie'Nerys -" the singer was actually in Kiriath's mind? He could only sympathise. Outside was mad enough.
"Is the Chaos Gate affecting you two at all?" he asked directly. "Are you likely to go mad any time soon? Madder than you already are, I mean."
Lord of Darkness
Sundara had vanished into the dreamscape.
Slowly Ulrike circled the field, memorizing the sight, each snow drift, each tree and its very own tangle of branches and the constellation of the stars, even the very feeling of this place. She didn't know how long it took.
Finally she returned to the tree that anchored Sundara's silver thread and sat down. The snow wasn't cold, but softer than a pillow. She leaned against the rough bark and watched the thread, hoping for a sign that told her how Sundara fared. Hoping that she found her friends, hoping that they would return soon...
nearer and nearer to Chaos....
Ares's head whipped around the frozen scene.
Where had that come from?
He listened to the cool grey air, but he heard nothing else. Then he realized from whence it had come...
What was he going to do anyway?
Out of the corner of his eye he saw... Ulrike, was her name? ... return back to the tree which Sundara had tied her silver thread.
Unsure exactly of what he was supposed to be doing here, he turned to her.
"So... um... who exactly are these friends you trying to find? Is there, erm, any way I can help?"
Melissande kept her voice very low - mainly to keep herself from screaming at Delana. The Gray Sitter was the Shadow's main contact in the rebel camp - she was also infuriatingly dense at times.
"I don't bloody care who you flaming well thought outranked who," she snarled. In a whisper. "Things change, Delana, this thing has changed, and if you balk at me once more I'll drag you to the flaming Pit of Doom and you can ask the bloody Great Lord himself who's in charge. Now do what you're flaming well told!"
She stalked out of the tent and Skimmed as soon as she was out of sight of the camp. The gateway was closing behind her before she realised something had gone wrong. It looked like the black Skimming-space. But it felt wrong.
"Blood and ashes! Where am I?"
Melissande Amaline Isten
Aes Sedai of the Medium Blue Ajah
President of Elaida Haters Worldwide
"My friends..." Ulrike sighed. "Dune is a she-wolf, friend and companion to Flame ..."
"A wolf?! We're risking our lives for a wolf?" Ares' exclamation sounded more confused and amazed than angry.
"... who is Far Dareis Mai and a wolf-sister. And Al'cair'rahien is a young dragon. He suddenly appeared here some time ago, though this world doesn't know living dragons like him, and stayed."
Ulrike's eyes never left the thread. But the boots shuffling betrayed Ares' confusion. So she added a bit explaination.
"Far Dareis Mai are a society of female Aiel warriors and a wolf sister or brother is someone who can 'speak' with wolves and enter the wolf dream - a variation of tel'aran'rhiod as far as I understood it."
She shifted uneasily.
"Wolves are natural dreamwalkers and a wolf sister learns soon to make the Dream her home. This means, if Flame and Dune didn't find a way out, we have no chance to survive the Chaos. All what we can do is wait and hold steady."
Ares said a long time nothing. Then thoughtfully:
"Did you say 'warrior society'?"
Flame jerked up when she saw a silvery gateway appearing. A figure stepped through to immediately loss his, no, her footing, metaphorically speaking. And they knew her!
Melissande's latest oath cut off in mid-sentence as she spun to face the source of the exclamation. "You're Flame. I've seen your companions before but I don't think we were ever introduced..." She narrowed her eyes.
"Either way, perhaps you'd like to supply some answers. What is this place? Why am I here? And what do you have to do with it?"
Melissande Amaline Isten
Aes Sedai of the Medium Blue Ajah
President of Elaida Haters Worldwide
Sundara frowned. The faint traces of the three lost ones had been added to, and this one was much stronger.
Not closer though, she thought. It seemed to - match her better, for want of a better term. A Darkfriend?
Maybe. Or maybe not. It was hard to determine exactly, only that the fourth person was more like her than were the other three.
She oriented on the newcomer, then focused. This place was even easier to manipulate than Tel'aran'rhiod - it seemed almost desperate to take on shape and form. A second ball of thread, this one gold, appeared in her hand, and keeping hold of one end, she flung it out into the distance. She only hoped the person had the wit to catch it. Without some kind of link, travellers here could be separated without a moment's notice.
Kiriath had wondered where Melissande was; he dared not blame her if she decided to leave immediately. Of course, escaping the pull of uncontrolled Chaos was nigh impossible.
Even being one of the more prominent Eccentrics on the board, the Intrigleeman still struggled with the power. It was more enticing than the Taint any day - though Notumar claimed the Taint still was quite delicious - and more threatening.
"With the Taint, one could lose their mind. With Eccentricity, one could lose their sense of being."
Realising he had spoken aloud, the gleeman blushed, a slight warmth through the Bond.
As the warmth cooled, his eyes whirled - and the gleeman winked out, his body vanishing from the room.
"Meet me in Chaos," came his disembodied voice.
Kiriath was anything but a politician - holding a conference while his friends were vanishing was not the way of the glee.
Sir Kiriath Machin Ni
Want your own body, Arie? Start talkin'.
Well now, this was interesting.
An understatement, of course, but it seemed very fitting to what had just arisen. Now her bondholder (or was she the bondholder?) had disappeared himself, though she thought he had done it on purpose, if such a thing was possible.
Meet me in Chaos, he said.
Arie was a bit confuzzlepated by this. Then, they weren't already in Chaos?
Curiouser and curiouser...
If she had shoulders, she would have shrugged, but instead she just floated around (or whatever minds with no bodies do) and hoped to find Chaos and Kiriath.
"I think not," Eval said succinctly. For one, being neither a dreamwalker nor an Eccentric, he had no ability to do so. For another, Chaos seemed the worst possible place to take Carra at the moment.
"Well, my lady. We appear to have been abandoned. What shall we do with ourselves next?"
He didn't really expect a coherent answer.