“No, I’m sorry, I can’t let you in, this isn’t the shopping mall.” Mystica’s voice took on a decisive tone as she explained for the fifth time to the person standing at the door downstairs that this was a private entrance and not to be used by shoppers. “You need to move further down the street and take the main entrance”. Hanging up on the man that started, yet again, to ramble in his drunken state that he needed to get in she sighed and watched the clock. Only ten minutes had passed since last time she looked. Time was obviously not her friend today. The day that had started out as a rollercoaster of crises from the moment she set foot in her office right up untill lunch and then everything fell silent. She looked over to her side desk, where seven piles of paperwork were patiently waiting for her attention, but decided against it and went to fetch another cup of coffee. In her mind she went over her to-do list and saw, once more, the enormous mountain of work looming over her. Rationally she knew that it was doable. More even, she knew that once she started that insurpassable mountain would turn out to be nothing more than a small hill. For some reason though, any amount of work felt as though the life would be drained out of her and she would have no energy left to breath. ‘Snap out of it, woman!’ she berated herself silently and walked back to her desk, fully intending to tackle those piles of paperwork. The phone rang right as she approached her chair and as she listened to her boss outlining the most recent urgency, her mind shifted into action and for the rest of the afternoon she did not look at her watch again. Five o’clock came faster than expected and she had just finished up solving the problem that would have eaten up her entire weekend. Not to mention put her in bad waters with the top of her company, alongside Raymond. Satisfied with herself, her work and the way this day managed to end on a positive note after all, Mystica grabbed her coat, closed down her computer and headed out the door. A hot bath was waiting for her and she was dying to try out those new bath crystals Linda had given her for her birthday earlier that year. It was one of those weeks where a woman just needed that extra bit of pampering.
Traffic was, of course, pure chaos on the way home and her little car moved at about the speed of a turtle. Resigned at her missfortune, Mystica turned on her car radio in the hopes some music would keep her spirits up. A blue Mercedes suddenly cut her off and it was all she could do to avoid a collision both with that idiot and with the other drivers rushing up behind her. “Light forsaken piece of….” Breathing heavily, she manoevered her car back into the lane while receiving a full concert of honking cars speeding passed her as though running from an errupting volcano. Mystica couldn’t help herself as she started mumbling, a habbit she had picked up some time ago though she could not quite remember where or how. Her mood now thoroughly in her shoes, she once more set out direction home. As she passed the crossing on the bridge over the river, she smirked watching all those speed devils standing at a full stop in a traffic jammed lain, waiting to enter the highway overhead. “Serves you right” she grinned as she gleefully passed them and turned right off into the other direction. “We interrupt our program to bring you some startling news that has just been communicated” the women in the radio sounded panicked, not her usual joyfull self. Frowning at the radio, Mystica turned up the volume only to stare at the device in total disbelief two minutes later. “… hundreds of cars are held up at the interstate. At the moment no one seems to know what the phenomena was that occurred, but our sources tell us that there can be no mistake. A… well we don’t quite know how else to describe it….. a hole appeared in the middle of the highway out of thin air! One of the cars, our sources inform us, was cut straight down the middle. It’s forward piece completely missing, as if it vanished the moment the hole appeared. Panick has spread through the drivers closest to the phenomena and people have abandonned their cars and are running away from the scene as fast as they can. It truly is astonishing, ladies and gentlemen!”
Mystica hadn’t realised that she had come to a complete stop when suddenly the honks and curses of impatient drivers entered her consciousness. ‘It can’t be’ she thought to herself. ‘Nah, not possible! You need to stop reading all those fantasy books!’ Shaking her head at her own sillyness, she continued on her path and reached her home without any further incidents. A nagging voice in the back of her head wouldn’t let off, however, and so she found herself in front of the tele looking at the images that showed the chaos and destruction on highway E4. “Light almighty” She breathed, as they showed the image of the sliced up car. The hole was gone, though. Reputedly it dissapeared as swiftly as it had materialised. Mystica’s eyes went to her book shelf, as if on their own accord, and locked on to the books that were proudly displayed there. She knew of one power that could create such a hole. But it was impossible! It was fantasy. Still, the hole had appeared. There were too many witnesses for it to be the product of someone’s imagination. She had seen a lawyer, a doctor, a housewife, a carpenter and a school teacher all vouching the exact same thing. Chances that all of them were suffering from some form of mass illusion were quite slim. Her eyes went to the bookshelf again before she could take a hold of herself. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan was shouting at her from across the room. “It can’t be that!” she told herself sternly. “That is fiction. Fantasy! Has nothing to do with reality. There must be a perfecly logical, natural or human based reason for this. More likely some experiment gone wrong that wasn’t supposed to come out yet.” Happy with the way her mind was rationalising the events and more and more convinced of how silly her original thought pattern was, Mystica chuckled and rolled her eyes at herself for letting her imagination get the better of her. “Time for my much deserved bath!” She exclaimed to the air in her apartment and headed towards the bathroom.
Tom sat frozen in his car. Or what was left of it. For right behind him there
was a gaping hole where the rest of his old stationwagon used to be. He clamped
the steering wheel with both hands while staring motionless ahead, not really
registering what his eyes were showing him. His ears picked up a faint buzzing
sound that he could not place and he did not pay any attention to it. The blood
rushing through his veins prevented him from consciously absorbing his surroundings.
The mountain looming ahead, the stark white building to his right and the numerous
people standing all around this pecular thing that had suddenly appeared in
the middle of the square. A square where no one ventured without cause or good
reason. Women dressed in silk gowns were standing together, appearing for all
their worth as though they were attending an afternoon tea party. Younger girls
wearing white cotton dresses rushed by, here and there one stopping to stare,
inviting a sharp remark from one of the silk garbed women. In short order the
square was cleared from nosy onlookers by dangerous looking men, the very walk
of which would back up the most courages bar thugs. None of this registered
to Tom, however, who still sat clasping his steering wheel, gasping for air
while his chest was pumping up and down in a futile attempt to still his nerves.
“What happened?” A soft, yet authoritive voice spoke and all the silken women turned towards it’s owner as one. The woman stepped forward to take a closer look at the strange looking thing that was now adorning her doorstep. “Unless I am mistaken, and I very rarely am, this is not the person you were sent to bring to me, Namane.” No anger, impatience or any other emotion was heard in the voice, yet there was no question to the effect of the softly spoken words, as all the silk women suddenly and in perfect unison dropped a deep curtsey towards the small woman standing in front of them. She was small in appearance, but only a fool would think her so. These women were no fools. The one the small woman had been speaking to stepped forward. Her posture calm, her face unreadable, her whole composure eminating serenity. There was something odd with this woman’s face. One moment she appeared twenty, the next one would swear she looked sixty. All the silk women had such faces, yet this was not an uncommon sight here in this place. “The calculations were wrong, Mother. The gate opened in a highly public place. We had to close it immediately lest more random people would pass through before we could stop it. Though, I’m afraid the damage is done there now. This …. Thing is only one of many. From what I could tell, it appears to be some sort of transportation device. There were no casualties, but we could not prevent this one from passing through. The gate opened right on top of it, cutting it right behind the man inside.” Namane stood waiting, well aware of the failure of her mission, yet not the slightest show of emotion was seen coming from her or any of the silk women. She calmly corrected the angle of the shawl that was draped over her arms, white fringes catching the afternoon sun. “Have the man checked and settled in. When he has rested and has regained his senses, see to it that he is brought to me. Remove the device from the square and put it in one of the unused sheds. Namane, come with me.” With those words the small woman turned and walked calmly, yet purposfully towards the tall, wide entrance of the white building. A tower, one should say, really. For it loomed over the square as a giant needle rising all the way up to the sky.
“Right, you heard Mother. Let’s move the man inside. Gridle, Lantia, don’t stand there gawlking with your mouths open like first day novices. Get him to the infermerie and have a room prepared for him in the east wing. Quickly now!”
The two younger women in white dresses, these ones having a band of seven colors at the hem and the end of the sleeves, jumped to action and moved cautiously towards the car. During all this time Tom had not moved and was still in a complete state of shock. The woman that had ordered the two girls to get him to the infermerie was now directing several of the men on carrying out the orders regarding the strange device. “No one gets access to it, except on direct orders from Mother, Pendric. See to it, please.”
She then turned to watch the two girls as they tried to get the man out of the device, with the help of one of the dangerously looking men. “This is highly disturbing, Sandhra.” Another silk woman said as she came to stand besides the first. “The Browns were absolutely sure about their calculations and I’ve yet to see a Brown being sure of something that turns out to be wrong.”
Sandhra nodded her agreement, while her eyes never left the two girls. “As you say, Manue, very strange indeed. But I’m sure that Mother will have it worked out soon. There is not much time and we can not fail in this task. Too much is at stake.”
As the rest of the silk women moved towards the white building, glided would be more accurate to describe their walk, Sandhra and Manue remained to overlook the girls. “The man is in total shock, it appears. That may be a blessing for now. The Light alone knows how we will explain this to him.” Sandhra said.
Finally the girls and the dangerously looking man were able to get the man out of the device and started guiding him towards the white building. Sandhra turned to her companion. “Would you be so kind as to overlook the salvaging of the device, Manue? I need to keep an eye on those two, for the Light knows what they will be spreading through the Tower.”
A raised eyebrow was all the reaction she received, though it was clearly as important as if the other woman had shouted her surprise. “You do not trust Pendric to his task?” Manue asked.
“He is a young Gaidin still, Sister. Eager to please his Aes Sedai. Sometimes a bit too eager. I would feel better if I knew he did not put himself in any unnecessary trouble.” Sandhra’s eyes caught a light glow, showing her amusement at the situation, though any but another Sister would have missed it.
Chuckling slightly, Manue nodded. “Rest assured, Sister. He will not fall into any trap this day.”
Fixing her green fringed shawl Manue nodded one last time to Sandhra and turned towards the group of men now working on the device. Sandhra cast a look over the scene once more, locking her eyes with Pendric and then turned to follow the girls inside the Tower.
Mystica got out of bath, fully refreshed, looking forward to lighting a cigarette and having a fresh cup of coffee. After wrapping her long black hair in a soft towel, she slipped one of her comfortable shirts over her head and headed back to her living room. The television still displayed the scene from the highway, but she payed it little further attention, now certain that there would be a perfectly logical explanation for the occurance. Pondering what that would be, she got her coffee mug and curled up on her couch, lighting a cigarette and, against her better judgement, continued to follow the dramatic presentation on the screen. The news studio had gone all out on this one, it seemed. In the time it took her to take her bath, they had rallied up a whole team of reporters, experts, analysists and other individuals that would all contribute to the show of the week. Myst shook her head, yet continued to watch as the most outrageous theories competed with hushing explanatio
n, each side wanting to gain controle over the right to be branded ‘expert’ in these events. None of which made any real impression on Mystica, however. Her mind wandered off to the people in the car that had been sliced off like it was a pack of butter. There were many things these days that could do that, most likely, as she had no illusion of the things governments would keep from their citizens, so the more she watched, the more she was convinced it was some sort of experiment gone wrong. It was a miracle that only one car had been hit, really. That highway was packed with commuters at that hour of the day as everyone headed back home after work or school. She shot a quick prayer to the Light for the people in the car and turned off the tele, disgusted by the whole show that was once again being built on other people’s misery. It hadn’t taken the disaster tourists long, it seemed, to get their kids packed up, shoved in the car and headed towards the ‘scene of the action’. “Tsk, some people… “ she muttered as she stood up and went to log on to her computer. The rest of the evening went past in relative calmness and soon she forgot all about the event as her time and attention was directed towards her international community of friends and online activities.
“Waar ben ik?” The two girls stopped in the middle of their step, causing
Tom to step passed them and then awkwardly being forced to step back as neither
had released their grip on his arm at either side. He looked at each of the
girls in turn and then to the man that had silently been following them. He
had the look of a predator about him, which made Tom feel very uneasy and he
instinctly took a step back which earned him a groan from one of the girls as
he landed his foot on top of her exposed toes sticking out of a pair of slippers.
Stepping back quickly again, Tom started to appologise, unheading the fact that
his backward motion brought him all the closer to the predator. The two girls
started talking at once, one of them patting him on the arm, the other tugging
his other arm, trying to get him to move forward again. He couldn’t understand
a word they were saying, as they rambled on while frantically looking all directions
at once. Tom raised both his arms, unwittingly releasing himself from their
grip, in an attempt to stop them so he could make out what they were saying.
That proved to be a mistake. For no sooner had his arms gone up or both of them
were firmly clasped behind his back, held by an iron grip that spoke in a language
everyone understood. ‘Do not move’. The predator held Tom’s hands in place with
casual ease, eventhough Tom wasn’t exactly a slender man himself. The girls
now had lost all form of decorum and started to talk louder and faster still.
This time directed to the Preditor, ignoring Tom for all he was worth. One of
them went even so far as to wag her finger right next to Tom’s ear, obviously
trying to impress the man behind him, while the other was stamping her foot
with both her hands in her sides. The predator didn’t budge an inch, nore did
he release his grip on Tom’s wrists. He stood there, motionless statue. The
tirade of the girls washing over him as waves over the shore.
“What is the meaning of this racket?” Tom thought the girls’ eyes would literally jump out of their sockets as they swung around and in the same motion went through their knees. For a moment he was afraid that they had fainted, but a moment later both came up again with their heads demurely lowered. “Explain yourselves, children. What are you doing here and who is this man?” A silken cladded woman stood in front of them and Tom couldn’t help but gasp at the sight of her. She was, quite possibly, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. And that included all the movie stars he had been admiring his whole life. A long, slim yet curvatious figure stood perfectly errect, clad in a silk gown of the purest, deepest red. A golden thread weaving it’s way from the bottom of the gown in a myriad of intricate figures up to the bodice, where it flowed perfectly into the neckline and down both sleeves. A neckline that invited any healthy man for a closer look curved it’s way into a face he could easily believe was clad out of perfection. Eyes that were as dark as eyes would get, emphasizing the deep black flow of hair that streamed around the outline of that face in perfect harmony. She wasn’t looking at him, though, but had her eyes fixed on the girls.
“Excuseer, mevrouw, ik denk dat…..” He trailed off as the woman shifted her gaze to him and this time his breath caught for a whole different meaning. She looked sixty! But then, she could also pass for a twenty five year old. Or forty two. That gaze pierced through him like a needle through a sponge and he couldn’t help but gulping. There was no question about it, this woman was dangerous. Ten times more dangerous than the predator still holding his hands. Tom then realised that the man hadn’t moved an inch. What the hell was going on here? He started to lose his patience. Someone had better explain a few things to him soon or else…. ‘or else what, ya’ fool?’ he scalded himself. The woman shifted her eyes back to the girls, who had been fidgetting and stammering all this time, and it was obvious to anyone with eyes that she was not interested in what he had to say.
“Well? Have you forgotten your lessons already, child? I asked you a question!” The expression on her face never altered. But Tom could feel the two girls shudder under the shere force of the woman’s voice. His protective side kicked in and before he could stop himself he blurted out ‘it’s not their fault!’ Obviously he had to talk English to these people, at least that much was clear now.
“Larindhra Sedai, forgive us, we were trying to get this man to the infermerie, following the orders of the Mistress of Novices. You see, he suddenly appeared at the big square in a strange device and was totally in shock. So Sandhra Sedai ordered him to the infermerie to be checked up and then settled in to one of the rooms, pending the summons of the Amyrlin Seat. We were on our way when he came out of his shock and started talking in a language we don’t know. We were trying to assure him that no harm would come to him, but I’m afraid we were a bit too eager to do so and made things worse in the process.” The girl ended in a whisper, not at all able to withstand the piercing look of the silken cladded woman, who stood, unmoving, unwavering, without any form of reaction or emotion, listening to the explanation. Silence stretched on and both girls started fidgetting all over again. The woman made the slightest motion with her hand and on cue the two girls jumped to the side, opening a clear path to Tom. She stepped forward, though he could have sworn that she floated towards him and suddenly the grip that held his arms back might as well not have been there for no force in existence could have made him move, he was sure. The shere intensity of that gaze kept him exactly where he was.
“I do not think that you will give these children any more problems, will you?” Tom had no illusion about the soft voice that spoke to him. It was most definately not a question and he had no intention of defying his luck.
“No, no definately not, ma’m.” He gulped, inadvertingly trying to back up, yet kept in place by a slight pressure applied to one of his wrists.
“Good” the woman replied and without another word turned and glided away. Both girl visibly relaxed and stood heaving for a moment before turning to him. The predator released his wrists and Tom started rubbing one while still wondering what just occured. He didn’t have time to ponder on it long, as the two girls instantly took an arm each and pulled him with them. Neither spoke another word, but Tom could feel that they both wanted to reach their destination as soon as possible. He had been sincere when he said that he didn’t want to cause problems for the girls, so he kept his mouth shut and followed. Hoping that soon someone would give him some explanation.
Namane followed the small women, keeping one step back, in silence. Her posture
and facial expression communicated utter serenity. She went over the events
in her head one by one, analysing every step while trying to untangle the disaster
that had occurred. No guilt troubled her mind, as this was a woman of logic.
Cold, undetached logic. For that was the way of the White. Namane embodied that
more than any other white Sister, which was one of the reasons she was chosen
to lead this mission. Extensive research had shown that their target would not
be pursuaded easily and that she had a highly developped intuition for hidden
agenda’s. That same research had also shown, however, that the girl had a very
open mind provided that the arguments were presented in a clear, and more importantly,
Both women walked at a steady pace through the corridors, ignoring the curtsies that followed them by servants and girls clad in white alike, and found themselves before long at the door to the chambers of the Amyrlin Seat. The most powerful woman of this world. The small woman did not stop and the door opened, as of it’s own accord, admittig the two to the room behind it. Ancient authority oozed from every inch of the room and had it’s desired effect on everyone that entered here. From king to novice, no one entered this room without a sense of awe. Which was exactly the reaction the Amyrlin Seat had been looking for when designing it upon taken over from the former woman that had held the office. The room worked in both ways. The weight of the past weighed heavy on the shoulders of those summoned here for less than pleasant reasons, but at the same time also offered consolation and support to those that needed and deserved it. It was a perfect mix that served all purposes. The small woman walked to the desk and sat down behind it, motioning for Namane to take one of the two chairs in front.
“What happened?” she asked simply.
“The calculations were followed to the letter, Mother. And while I still can not believe that the Browns have made an error, the evidence showed that there is no room for doubt. They were wrong. We opened the window in the wrong place. It only took me a second once the window was open to realise that and I instantly let it go, but that instant was enough to cause a disaster. It appears that the window opened on some sort of road that was packed full with those transport devices as the one you have seen on the square. If asked, I would deduct from the evidence presented that it must be a very common means of transportation in that world. These devices travel with great speed and they more than likely need some time to come to a stop. I can only guess as to what happened after the window closed, but I would not be surprised if we caused a big comotion, or a sizable accident. I can only hope that no one was killed in the event.” Namane brought her report in a clear voice, devoid of any emotion. Anyo
ne not understanding the nature of a White would instantly start wondering
just how hopefull she was for that indeed, for it sounded for all the world
as though she was discussing which wine to present with which dinner course.
“Did you at least get a glimps of the girl?” The Amyrlin Seat asked.
“No Mother, we did not” the answer was clear, short and to the point.
“The calculations were correct, Daughter. So the source on which they were based must be wrong then. The Browns spent two hundred years on nothing else but this. There is no mistake in the calculations. We must find the cause of this and fix it. Failure is not an option!” Stating the obvious was not part of the Amyrlin’s habit and a clear sign of her inner turmoil. Though nothing showed on the surface, it was as clear as it ever could be that she was more than a little shaken up. When the Amyrlin becomes shaken up, any normal man would stand terrified to his core. Namane, however, was not any normal man. She merely nodded, keeping her features perfectly smooth, her emotions under tight controle, her mind still working over every step in a cold analytical manner.
“The only thing to do, it seems to me, is to go to the source and examin every aspect on possible flaws.” Namane looked at the other woman, who slumped back in her seat.
“I had hoped to avoid that, Namane. Once is more than any person should have to deal with that ordeal.”
“Yet it is necessary, Sabrena.” Namane answered. Over the decades, the two women have taken their distance from each other, but both still knew how to read the other without any words needed. Namane had flawlessly picked up when the Amyrlin had made room for the woman behind the stole. The woman that once was Namane’s roommate, when they were both novices. She spoke to her longtime friend now, not the ruler of the most powerful city in the world, who commanded kings and summoned empresses.
Sabrena took one more breath, allowing herself the luxury of just being human for a moment longer, and then the Amyrlin was back.
“Very well, the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. We will do what must be done.”
Namane rose from her seat, knowing her audience was at an end, and offered Sabrena a perfect curtsey before leaving the room. Sabrena watched her friend go, rose from her seat and walked to the window that looked over the city below. Her chambers were located at the very top of the White Tower, symbolising the position of the Amyrlin Seat over all other stations in life. Symbolising also the solitude that position brought and the weight of the responsibility. A burden that must be carried, a service that must be done. Sabrena wondered when her life had started to become a collection of musts. Her eyes followed the outline of the city of Tar Valon, and beyond, untill they met the horizon where land and sky connected.
“I will find you, girl.” She whispered to the wind. “It pains me to have to do this to you, but we have no choice. Neither you nore me. Your life too has to become a collection of musts. Whatever we can do to help you bear this burden, will be done.” Reinforced by her own words, Sabrena went to open the door. The accepted on duty bounded to her feet and curtsied at the appearance of the Amyrlin Seat.
“Go tell the Keeper that I need to talk to her immediately, child.” Sabrena ordered the girl in a friendly voice.
“As you command, Mother” the girl responded with another curtsey before bolting out of the room. Sabrena was a kind woman, yet no one had even the slightest doubt. Only a fool would try their luck with her.
Manola Ra’Tech went over the list of repairs that had to be done in the city
streets with the clerk when a clear knock on the door made her look up. “Enter”
A young woman in a white dress, banded with the seven colors of the different Ajahs at the hem and sleeves, entered the room and curtsied to the Keeper of the Chronicles. Manola did not wear her Keeper shawl often, as she did not believe in boasting, yet the shawl now hung from her shoulders as she had not have time to take it off before addressing a number of urgent repairs caused by the sudden appearance of that strange device earlier in the square. The blue band at the end of the stole showed the Ajah she belonged to before becoming the second in command of the Tower. “yes, child, what is it?”
“Manola Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat asks for your immediate presence.” The Accepted delivered her message with another curtsey and stood waiting for the Keeper’s response.
“Very well, thank you Lyla. You may return to your duties now”. The Keeper instantly closed the book she had been writing in, told the clerk that she would come back later to discuss the rest and to go ahead with what they had already worked out. The young woman already dismissed from her mind, yet the accepted took no offense. This was the way of the Aes Sedai, a way she was close to adopting herself. With another curtsey she left the room and headed back to the waiting room of the Amyrlin Seat to resume her attendence duty. Manola didn’t waste any time, yet it would never do for an Aes Sedai to be seen running through the corridors like a newly enlisted novice. Her pace was steady, controlled. Her posture serenity made flesh. Still, it took her little time to reach the door to the Amyrlin’s chambers and after a polite knock on the door, she joined Sabrena. Her curtsey was perfect in every inch. Not as low as normal Sisters would, even Sitters, but low enough to indicate the respect and submission to the position of the Amyrlin Seat. “As you have summoned me, Mother, so do I come.”
Sabrena tsk’d at her Keeper’s formality and then shook her head. It was no use, the woman never once let go of observing the proper protocol and never had since the moment she had been chosen as her Second. Nevermind that they had been as close as Sisters could be before that. ‘I suppose she has a point, but by the Light I really could use someone I can just be myself with. Not the Amyrlin, but simply Sabrena.’ Sabrena sighed at the futility of that line of thought and conceeded to the reality of things.
“Yes, Manola, please come join me. We need to address this disaster and the Hall must be made to see sense in this. Tea?” She had moved towards the tea tray standing on one of the coffee tables and channeled a trickle of Fire to reheat the pot and poored herself and the Keeper a cup. It was highly unusual for the Amyrlin to do this task herself, but she had dismissed the Accepteds that would stand in attendence and do these types of tasks for her to the waiting room. It’s a common mistake for rulers to forget that servants have ears as good as anyone, and Aes Sedai often made the same mistake when it came to novices and accepteds. Sabrena did not, however. She took a seat in one of the comfortable chairs in front of the fire place and motioned for Manola to join her.
“Thank you, Mother.” Manola answered and took her seat. “Has it been determined yet what the cause of the failure was?”
“There was no mistake in the calculations. So the only explanation left is that there must be a flaw in the source somewhere.”
“The source? But is that even possible, Mother? I mean, considering?” The Keeper was visibly shaken, that much was certain. And for good reason too, for if the source was flawed, it very much stood to reason that their mission may never succeed. And that would be unthinkable.
“Either flawed or we were fed miss information on purpose.” Sabrena replied calmly.
“On purpose!?” Aes Sedai serenity now totally out of the window, Manola stared at the Amyrlin in utter disbelief. “Surely not that, Mother!?”
“We must consider all possibilities, Daughter.” Sabrena had shaken up her Keeper deliberately and was pleased to see it work. While she would not try it with a White, as it would go against their nature, Manola was a Blue and Sabrena knew the woman too well to know that the strength needed to uphold the total detachment of emotions ate at her and caused more harm than good in the long run. Part of her job as Amyrlin Seat, as Sabrena saw it, was also to guard the well being of her Keeper, who would not hesitate a split second to utterly destroy herself in the service of the Amyrlin Seat and the Tower. Sabrena needed her Keeper whole, and so a healthy balance between serenity and human emotionality needed to be maintained. Especially in Manola, who was such a caring, warm hearted woman that for the longest time everyone was sure she would choose the Yellow. Sabrena well remembered all the stray animals Manola had nurtured, often at the expense of her own safety and well being. The number of visits to the Mistress of Novice’s office in their novice days had put Manola on the list of legendary trouble makers. Right alongside Sabrena herself, one might add. Though where Sabrena’s goals had mostly been to target some snotty Aes Sedai, Manola’s disgressions had always been for her missions to rescue yet another animal from certain death.
Mystica got out of her relaxing bath, feeling all refreshed and ready for
an evening of lazy fiddling on the computer, with a nice glass of bubbly water
and a coffee. She dried herself up, wrapped her hair in a towel and slipped
into an oversized comfy t-shirt. A strange noise from the living room made her
look up from her second attempt to keep the towel firmly wrapped in place and
she frowned. Her apartment was really tiny and noises did get through the walls
easily enough, but after spending 13 years living on her own, she’d gotten used
to her being the only thing in her home to make any noise. Instantly on the
alert, she slowely moved through the small corridor towards her living room
and froze. Three women stood in the clutter of the room, looking as queens holding
audiences in the grandest palace in existence. One of them held a book in her
hands and was browsing through it, missing Myst’s arrival. Yet her pre-occupance
didn’t lessen her majestic appearance in the slightest. The other two just stood,
watching her, without any emotion or thought shown on their faces. In fact,
there was something odd with those faces. Something Myst couldn’t quite place.
“Ok, so this is what it feels like going insane” Myst thought to herself, not even realising she had spoken out loud. She looked at each of the women in turn, noticing odd things, such as a shawl each was wearing, with fringes all around the edges. Each one having a different color fringe. One was white, one was green and the one reading was brown. Mystica couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at the irony of the illusion, convinced now that she had gone completely bonkers.
“My name is Namane, child” The woman with the white fringes spoke suddenly, not moving anything else but her mouth. “You must now come with us.” There was no mistaken it, she spoke with the authority of a person used to being obeyed instantly and without question. But then, she probably didn’t know Myst as well as she might have thought.
“Must I now?” Myst replied sarcastically, raising her eyebrows secretely hoping she could for once manage to do the whole ‘one eyebrow lifting’ thing. “Just like that, huh? My name is Namane, you must come with us? Tell me something, lady. Do you often encounter brainless twits on your journeys?” Myst walked calmly to her desk in the corner of the room and lighted up a cigarette. Taking a seat and waiting for the woman to reply. ‘Great’ she thought, ‘not only am I stark raving mad, I’m also aware of it and still going along with it. But then, something tells me these illusions aren’t going to go away just by ignoring them.’
“I am unsure what you consider to be brainless twits, child, but you would do well to come with us immediately” The woman with the white fringes replied evenly, not a hint of frustration or impatience showing in voice or posture. The woman with the green fringes suddenly smiled and stepped forward. Only one step, but it seemed to Myst that she was closed in, with no escape whatsoever.
“Child, we mean you no harm, I assure you. But it is of the utmost importance that you come with us. Time is of the essence and we can not afford to lose any of it.” Her voice was nice, friendly and soft, and while nothing in her posture spoke of a threat, Myst was certain that this was not a woman she would want to anger. “Bania, if you are ready with that book, we can get on our way.” That last part was aimed at the woman with the brown fringes, who totally ignored it and kept on reading. “Bania?” The green raised her voice slightly, then moved to put a hand on the other’s shoulder, startling her so that she dropped the book. Myst was up out of her seat and kneeling to pick up the book before either women could react. Now angry at the rude handling of her prized possessions, she eyed both women with fire in her eyes. All sense of caution thrown to the wind.
“Look! The three of you! This is my home, these are my books, and if you don’t get out of my mind, right this instance I will give you a reason to drive me insane. Now, OUT!” Fuming at the odacity of harming one of her books, Myst didn’t even stop to realise the oddness of a thought or illlusion having the ability to actually drop one of her books. She cradled her book and went to put it back on it’s shelf, alongside the others of the series. Replacing the book the title stood staring at her proudly, The Dragon Reborn. Slowely she turned towards the women, whom she now recognised as Sisters. A White, a Green and a Brown. ‘Calm yourself, Myst’ she reasoned with herself. ‘You need to address this part of your psyche with reason and cool, try to bring it to level with the rest of your consciousness’. Still convinced that all this was part of her delusional state, she smiled at the women, who had not moved from their spot and were now standing looking at her with renewed interest.
“Listen, I know that to you this all seems perfectly normal. You believe that you are Aes Sedai from the White Tower of Tar Valon and you believe that for some reason you must come and take me with you. However, and I am sorry to have to do this to you, it is necessary that you understand that you are not real. For whatever reason, my brain or subconscious has created an illusion based on one of my favorite book series. A fantasy book series. Meaning: it does not exist. Now I am not a psychologist, but I do know a delusion when I see one and you three are as close as it can get. It is obvious that I need to get myself some help to deal with this, and I will. But for now, I really must ask you to leave. Unless you wish to harm me permanently, which will most definately happen if you continue with this.” Satisfied that she had presented her case clearly, logicallly and calmly, Myst stood smiling in, what she hoped was, a reassuring manner.
“She thinks we are an illusion” The Brown spoke for the first time. Stating the obvious, which caused the Green to arch an eyebrow at her.
“This is not an illusion, child.” The Green said, after silencing the Brown with a look. “I’m afraid that this is very real. I do not know what this book series is that you speak of, but I can assure you that we are not part of a delusion. We are Aes Sedai of the White Tower, though not of this world. And we are sent by the Amyrlin Seat to bring you to her. And that is exactly what we will do. So the best thing for you to do is get dressed in something more appropriate, though we will take you with us as you are if we must. This is not a request child, you will come with us.”
“my name is Mystica Ari’Yena, not child. Last I checked, I am not a novice in the White Tower and you were an imaginary character in a fantasy story that some writer made up” Myst was past patience now. “Ok, if you want to play it tough, so be it. I had hoped we could settle this fairly, painless and as adults, but you want to play dirty, that can be arranged too. One way or the other, you will get out of my head!” With that Mystica turned and marched right back in to her bedroom, taking her sweet time to put on her cloths and then went to the bathroom to blowdry her hair and put on some eyeliner. The only make up she ever wore. When she re-entered the living room, the three women were now all reading a book from the Wheel of Time series and Myst just rolled her eyes and went to the kitchen to get herself a cup of coffee. A cigarette or five was the least she would need to calm her nerves down and then a call to that shrink.
“How do illusions work in your world, Mystica?” The White asked when she came out of the kitchen again. “Do they have the ability to pick up real objects?” Myst froze in midstep, the cup of coffee in her hands forgotten, as it dawned on her that she had indeed picked up a book that the Brown had dropped. Slowely she stepped towards the dining table, put down the cup and turned to the White. Slowely, she stretched out her hand and took the book from the White. “We are not an illusion, child.” Wordlessly Mystica went to collect the books from the Green and the Brown, the latter unwilling to let it go and Myst had to give it a good yank before she would release it. Thoughts rushed through her head as she replaced each book on it’s place on the shelf, though no logical explanation came to her on how to answer this question. ‘surely there must be something to explain it?’ She thought frantically, unwilling to accept or even contemplate the alternative. Honesty was a force too strong in Myst to be overriden by futile or even strong arguments, and it would not be silenced now either. The White had a good point. More than likely it was some form of phenomena that she hadn’t heard of before, some side effect of some obscure mental condition, but that didn’t change the fact that it had to be examined. ‘if I tell this to a shrink, they’re going to lock me away. Even in today’s society, people don’t take kindly to this type of thing. I’m on my own, till I can figure this out.’ Once again Myst felt the pangs of sollitude, a far too familiar feeling that had been with her all her life. Those long years of experience however, also had given her the strength to deal with whatever life threw at her. Or so she thought. ‘Right, no matter what, no matter who or where, the truth always prevails. Sooner or later.’ Repeating her old mantra, she strengthened herself and faced the women.
“You claim to be Aes Sedai from another world. Don’t bother telling me how you got here, a child can figure that out. Obviously you either used a portal stone or figured out how to create a gateway to alternate realities. Prove to me that you are who you say you are and in such a way that I can not claim that knowledge would come from my own subconscious.” She knew that daring a Sister is not the smartest thing to do, if these were Sisters. But then she felt she didn’t have much to lose.
“You don’t dare an Aes Sedai, child!” The Green’s voice boomed at her. “You obey when a Sister tells you to do something! And you obey instantly and without question!” The woman loomed over Myst as though she had grown 4 times her size in the last five seconds. Myst wasn’t impressed though, recognising the Mirror of Mist for what it was. Knowing full well the woman was still her normal size and this was an illusion. ‘illusion within an illusion. Light, but I am one hell of a complicated woman’ She chuckled to herself and couldn’t help but let the chuckle actually get out. Caught off guard, the Green instantly reduced back to her normal size. People don’t usually chuckled when a Sister got angry. What was wrong with this child? Preparing herself to give the little chit a lesson she wouldn’t soon forget, Taya opened herself up to the Source.
“If I may, Sister?” The White smoothly stepped between the girl and the Green, effectively cutting off her path to Myst and giving her the few seconds needed to calm down. “Mystica, I realise that this must be a shock to you and if I were in your shoes I would most likely not believe it myself. However, it is absolutely imperritive that you come with us to meet the Amyrlin Seat. If you know as much of the Aes Sedai as you claim, then you know we can not lie. We have no wish to harm you in any way, but we must bring you with us. If we fail in our duty, the Light may forever be lost and all may fall to darkness.”
“An Aes Sedai can not lie, it is true.” Myst answered calmly. “Yet the truth an Aes Sedai tells is not always the truth that one thinks to hear. And then let’s not forget about the Black Sisters, shall we?” She knew that this was the worst thing to say to any Sister, but Myst had said it on purpose. These women needed to know she was not one of their usual freightened little girls they could bully into hopping on command and if she was about to step into a can of worms, she wanted to know precicely what kind of worms she was dealing with. Her conscious mind hadn’t yet picked up on how her intuition already accepted the reality of this impossibility, but the White had noticed the change in approach in the girl. Raising her hands to keep the other Sisters back, Namane remained calm and collected.
“The Last Battle has been fought 200 years ago, Mystica. Since then there have been ways in which Aes Sedai are tested for their allegiance to the Light. This is more than I should tell you and all that I will tell you. It is for the Amyrlin Seat to tell you more if she so chooses. As it stands, I will already be facing severe punishment for disclosing this much. Yet I believe that it is necessary, given the level of insider knowledge you already possess.” Namane folded her hands in front of her. “You are a key element of a battle against Darkness that is yet to come. It is not our intention to use you as a tool for the White Tower, but to assist you in preparing yourself to get ready for a battle no one can avoid. This preparation can not be done here, and so you must come with us. Time is of the utmost importance, child.”
“Namane, you are telling this child way too much. Mother will not be happy in the slightest.” Taya stood once more serene and tall. Yet the fires in her eyes were still burning and Myst had a feeling that she would yet come to regret her Black Ajah remark.
“That may be so, Taya, but it is necessary.” Namane simply replied.
Mystica had stood listening to the revelation of all of that and looked from woman to woman, lighting yet another cigarette, while her mind was racing over all that she had heard and all that it implied.
“I thought that the whole point of the Last Battle being called the Last battle, was that there would be no more battle after that.” She said to no one in particular.
“Often in prophecies words and phrases are not understood till long after they have come to pass.” Namane responded. “We do not yet know what this next battle will be like, but we do know that it is coming.”
“Even if that is so, it is rather strange that you would need to look at alternate universes to find your next Dragon.” Myst looked at the White, her eyes clearly indicating that she didn’t believe for a second that she was that important.
“We are not looking for a Dragon, Mystica. Rand Al’Thor still lives and still remains the Dragon Reborn to this day.” Bania’s soft voice drew Myst’s eyes to the Brown and was met by a face that emenated friendly warmth. Now she understood the paranoia of so many of the regular people in the books, as she automatically wondered if that was a tactic or the Sister’s true face.
“What exactly do you expect of me? What will I need to do and what will happen to me? And please, straight and clear answers. None of that Aes Sedai beating about the bush stuff.” Mystica knew she was losing her
resolve, but she was not ready to give in without at least trying to keep
her freedom of choice. Which meant she needed all the information there was
“I do not know. The Amyrlin Seat is the only one who can answer those questions. What I am entitled to promise you, however, is that you will be given a choice. The Amyrlin Seat will give you all the information you need and then you will be given the opportunity to either accept your role or deny it. If you do deny it you will be brought back here without anyone ever knowing it, but us.” Namane spoke clearly, decisively and without doubt.
Mystica stood up and went to her window. Looking over the rooftops of the houses below her and over in the distance to the city she’s lived all her life. Wondering wether she was about to make the right decision. For suddenly it occurred to her that these women had not just snatched her up and kidnapped her. Something they could have easily done. So that meant that they wanted her to come out of her own will. Or did it?
“What if I refuse to go?”
“We are sworn to bring you with us, one way or the other, Mystica. I would prefer it if you choose to come, but I will take you to the Amyrlin Seat regardless. That is not an option. Your freedom of choice will come once you have heard what the Mother has to say."”Again, the White spoke clearly and without a shadow of a doubt. Mystica took one last look over the city and then turned to the Sisters.
“Well, since it seems I have no choice, I don’t see why we are wasting our time debating it. Let’s go then.”
Taya sniffed at the remark and suddenly a bright light errupted in the middle of the living room, thinning to a vertical line and expanding to the sides, creating a doorlike surface of sparkling white energy. When the form stopped taking shape, the white dulled and a hole stood in it’s place. Through the hole Myst could see another room, which looked like a den, with seatings and carpets and what looked like globes of light on the walls. Bania went through and moved off to the side, out of the vision of Myst.
“Step through the gate, child” Namane put her hand on Myst’s back, gently pushing her to the hole in her living room. “I will be right behind you.”
Wrinkling her nose, Myst approached the hole and lifted her foot ridiculously high, to avoid touching the edge of the hole in an irrational fear that it might be sliced through if she touched it. She stepped through and instantly felt the warm glow of a fire coming from her left.
“Stand over here, Mystica” she heard the voice of Bania call to her and moved automatically to stand next to the Brown Sister. Namane followed shortly after and then Taya. As soon as the Green had stepped through the gate shrank in on itself and blinked out of existence.
“Welcome to the White Tower, child” Taya said. “If I were you, I would keep any thoughts I had about the Black Ajah to myself. You will find that not many sisters have Namane Sedai’s stomach for dealing with those types of accusations.” And at that, the Green turned and glided off towards the door in the far left corner of the room.
“She seems a bit touchy on the subject” Myst said outloud to herself.
“Taya Sedai lost all three of her warders to the Black Ajah, child.” Namane spoke coming up behind her.
Mystica winced at that, yet could not forget how denial caused a great deal of trouble to begin with. At least in the books it had. She wondered how much of what she had read was actually true, and how on earth did R.J. manage to imagine a whole story that happened to be real? Had he been inspired by something other than a writing muze? Was that how stories were born to begin with? Some voice from an alternate universe whispering plots and storylines into people’s ears, making them think they made it all up? ‘I guess I better not pretend to be the Highest around these parts’ She thought to herself with a grin.
Sabrena paced her office up and down for the fiftieth time since she had sent the three Sisters to fetch the girl. They had to succeed this time. She was still fuming at the cause of the failure of their first attempt. A comma. A stupid, simple, bloody comma! Blood and bloody ashes!!
Taking a deep breath, the Amyrlin Seat of the White Tower, the most powerfull woman in the world, the embodiment of serenity and utter calm, tried to gain controle over her fuming rage once more. It would not do to be in this state when she met the girl. It would not do at all. A knock at the door made her swing around, but before she bid the person at the other side to enter, she took a moment to regain her posture.
Manola stepped into the room and curtsied perfectly. “They have returned, Mother. With the girl. They are on their way here now.”
“Very good, Daughter, thank you.” Sabrena sounded and appeared totally unshaken by the news, though inside her stomach was letting go of the knot it had held ever since she sent Namane on her mission. “Please inform our guests and invite them to join us at their earliest convenience.” From the tone of her voice, this was nothing but a normal request. Were it not that this was the White Tower and the woman voicing the request the Amyrlin Seat. When this woman summoned you, you came. Whether you were a pennyless orphan or a mighty king, you came and you came swiftly and without question. Whoever these guests were, it was more than obvious that they were in mighty high standing that they would be given the freedom to reply to an invitation by the Amyrlin at their own pace. Manola smoothly offered another curtsey, causing Sabrena to grind her teeth internally, and glided out the door. Sabrena called for the Accepted on duty in her waiting room and gave her instructions to see to it that Namane and her party were to be sent through immediately upon arrival and to go ask cook to prepare a dinner for seven people.
Myst’s condition was not the greatest. In fact, it was non-existent, period.
So by the time they started out on the fifth stairway, she was heaving like
a lumberjack after a rough night out, her sides hurting like crazy and sweat
poring down her face. “You guys really need to think about installing a lift
in this place. Honestly.”
They stopped to give her some time to catch her breath, when a couple of Sisters descended from the stairs. One of them took a look at Myst, seeing her obviously in distress, and without a word cupped her face and had her on her toes in the same instant. Cold and hot rushed through her vains and before she knew it she was left swaying on her feet, yet feeling totally refreshed and in perfect shape. Blinking a few times, Mystica looked at the woman standing in front of her, who had already dismissed her from her mind and was talking to Namane in a rather demanding manner.
“You should know better than to parade a sick girl through the halls, Namane. Her place was in the infermerie. It’s a good thing I came along, for before too long she’d have collapsed entirely. Her body was a mess! I know you Whites think that logic outranks everything else, but see if you can make logic work if people are too sick to care.” Namane stood there, not blinking once, calmly listening to the other Sister, whose fringe showed a bright yellow color. ‘Aha,’ Myst thought, ‘that explains things.’
“Would you also like me to explain to the Amyrlin Seat why she was made to wait on the execution of her orders, Nyneave?” Namane simply asked when the Yellow was finished with her parade. “Maybe you wish to accompany us to her office to inform her of your opinion on the matter?” All of it brought in a calm, disconnected voice, yet there was no mistaking it. Namane was not at all taken in with the way Nyneave had spoken to her in the presence of an outsider. “Nyneave? The Nyneave??” Mystica stood staring at the Yellow, unaware she had spoken out loud. Yet that soon became apparent when the Yellow turned her eyes on her and took a closer look. “Your name, child? And how do you know me? Have you never been taught the proper way to address an Aes Sedai? Come and see me when the Amyrlin Seat is finished with you and we shall see that you receive the proper lessons.” Not waiting for Myst to give her name, Nyneave glided off without another word, followed by a shadow that soon became a man. Myst couldn’t help but galk at the man that so many in her world considered the embodiment of perfection. ‘That must be Lan’ She thought. ‘Hm, he’s not nearly as hot in reality as he seemed to be in the books.’
“Are you alright, child?” Namane took Myst’s arm and turned her towards herself. “Can you continue?”
“Yes, I’m alright. I’m better than I’ve been in a very long time. She Healed more than I knew was wrong with me. I really should go thank her for that.” Myst looked back to the hallway Nyneave had dissapeared into, but Namane wouldn’t let go of her arm.
“You can do that some other time, the Light willing, child. Right now we must get going. We can not keep the Mother waiting too long.” With that she turned Myst towards the stairway and started up the stepd, leaving Myst no room but to follow suit.
“As we are on the subject, Mystica, I must insist that you do adhere by the rules of engagement while in the Tower. As you know, only four of us know who you are and where you come from. To all the others you are just another woman as so many others. Untill the Amyrlin Seat has authorised it differently, you really do need to use the proper address when talking to people. I trust you are familiar of the titles used for the Amyrlin Seat and the Aes Sedai?” She waited and as Myst nodded her understanding continued. “While you may be aware of many things from our past, and much of the personal lives of many of our Sisters, it still would not do to give everyone the idea that it is ok to threat Aes Sedai without proper respect. Regardless of your insider knowledge, we still must continue in this world and that may not be corrupted by any interferrence that is alien to it.” Mystica munched on that a bit and then replied., “As you say, Namane Sedai. Though if possible, I would like to have some more indepth conversation with you on that topic. For it seems to me that by bringing me here that alien influence has already occurred.” Namane kept quiet at that, but smiled inwardly at the analysis of the girl. She definately had at least a streak of White in her, which was a good sign. She would need it where she was headed. They topped the final stairway and entered the waiting room of the Amyrlin Seat. The Accepted on duty leaped to her feet and opened the door, after a brief polite knock, admitting them to the room behind.
The room was the size of twice her entire apartment. Mystica stood right
inside the room and let her gaze sweep over the furnitures, the carpets and
wall carpets, the paintings and ornaments, the desk and the chairs in front
of it, the fireplace and the couches. Home. The word just popped into her mind
without reason or cause, but it would not go away. For that was the feeling
this room triggered in her. Home. Safe. Aware of this strange line of thinking,
Mystica instantly became suspicious, remembering who she was dealing with and
wondering how much of these feelings were her own and how much of it was being
manipulated by some force outside her own will. ‘I need to get a grip on myself.
Or they’ll have me dancing on strings in five minutes.’ She thought and started
closing up the walls around her heart. All this time the three Aes Sedai in
the room had been observing her and they didn’t miss the change in her posture,
her face and her eyes. For a moment, the girl had allowed herself to feel her
connection to the place. But now that moment was gone. Still it had been there,
it still was behind that wall of self protection. Sabrena was immensely relieved
that she could have established that much in such a short time. Namane and Bania
curtsied in perfect unity towards the third Aes Sedai in the room, while
Myst stood there not quite knowing what to do. She wore pants, as always, and
was not about to make a fool of herself attempting a curtsey or even a bow.
Bowing and scraping was never something she did easily and curtseying had been
gone from her world a long time now. Only royalty still used a weak copy of
it from time to time and even then it looked ridiculous in those knee length
dresses. So she just stood there, waiting.
“Mother, I present to you Mystica Ari’Yena. Mystica, meet Sabrena A’leena, Watcher of the Seals, Flame of Tar Valon, the Amyrlin Seat.” Namane stepped back, opening a clear path between Sabrena and Mystica.
“Welcome, daughter. We have been waiting for you for some time now.” Sabrena held out her hand and Myst found herself walking over, bend forward and kiss the ring on the third finger of that slender hand. The ring was made of one serpent biting it’s own tail. The ring of an Aes Sedai. ‘Well, that takes care of the whole curtseying business’ She mocked herself inwardly. “Thank you for inviting me, Mother” she replied coming out of her bow.
“We have much to talk about, let’s go sit by the fire.” Sabrena glided over to the seating area in front of the fireplace and motioned Mystica to take one of the other chairs. There were four single chairs and two double couches, arranged in a circle in front of the fireplace, yet despite the size of the chairs, the circle still felt intimate and private. Namane and Bania took a seat in one of the single chairs, as did the Amyrlin herself. Leaving both of the double couches empty and making Mystica feel as though their company was not quite complete. For two of the single chairs were positioned in front of the double couches and two were placed behind it, closest to the fire. So unless this was a way of giving the Amyrlin Seat and Myst their distance, it felt like the couches were meant to be used by other people still.
A knock on the door broke the silence that had started to fill the room and
Myst was happy with the interruption as she was starting to squirm under the
examining gaze of the small woman sitting opposite of her. Sabrena bid the knocker
to enter and another Aes Sedai glided in, followed by three figures Myst would
have never guessed to be present here in the White Tower. Or in this world,
for that matter. Myst bounded to her feet, openly galking at the woman and the
men standing serenly behind the curtseying Sister.
“Mother, it is my honor to bring to you the Lady Galadriel, Lord Elrond and Gandalf, the White.” The sister intoned and then stepped to the side, leaving a path for the guests to step forward. Elves, in the White Tower. Mystica couldn’t believe it. Well, she had to believe it, they were standing right there. Or were they? Maybe all this didn't happen. A dream! ‘That’s it!!’ “This is a dream!!” She blurted out suddenly as the realisation came of the utter impossibility of the situation. “Nothing but a dream! I have been reading too much fantasy, watched too many fantasy movies, been pre-occupied with too much fantasy worlds! This is a bloody dream!!!” Six pair of eyes watched her but she didn’t pay them any heed. Too caught up in the uforia of this revelation and too excited about the fact that for once in her life, or so she thought, she actually realised she was dreaming. “I wonder if I’ll forget this one the moment I wake up too? Light, I hope not! It’s too good to forget this. What a story this would make!” She laughed the way only a person laughed in utter relief, when the weight of some immense burden was suddenly lifted or the doom of an impeding disaster was taken away by a sudden yell of surprise! “Burn me! I really thought I was totally losing my mind! Hahaha! Fwew! Nothing more but a dream!” Grasping Sabrena’s hands, she hugged the Amyrlin Seat and then moved on to the female elf, who looked nothing like the Galadriel from the movies, but she was sure that was just some sort of projecting thing going on and hugged her too. Still laughing and exclaiming it all to be nothing more than a dream. The confused and worried looks the others were giving each other completely lost in her uforia, Myst stood for a moment, bended over, trying to catch her breath and clear her mind so that she could think properly.
“Right, so if this is a dream, all I need to do is tell myself to wake up. I think.” She looked around the room, thinking that her dream Elrond looked even better than the movie one and spotted a mirror to the side of the desk. “Aha!” Myst marched right up to the mirror, locking her eyes with her image and loudly exclaimed to herself “Myst, you’re dreaming. It is time to wake up now. Open your eyes!” Nothing happened. “Hm, I was sure that’s what all the books say you need to do to get out of a nightmare.” Frowning at her image, she tried again. “Listen, you fool of a twit, you’re dreaming! Open your eyes and get on with your life! Now!” Nothing. “Bloody hell!” A moment later she jumped two feet in the air as a blow hit her square on the backside, feeling like a whip on exposed flesh. She turned to watch her attacker and see it coming this time, only to find the Amyrlin Seat standing there, utterly calm and collected, with one eyebrow raised in warning. ‘See, that’s how I wish I could do it’ She thought to herself irrationally before she realised what had happened.
“Will you cut that out! You are in my dream! I demand what happens in my dream, and I most definately do not demand you beating me! Or anyone else for that matter. So stand over there and don’t bother me. I have to find a way to wake up.” Eyebrow number two rose up, yet Myst totally missed that as her attention was back on the mirror. “Right, so maybe there’s some special type of words I need to use. Let’s see. Myst, wake up now.” Nothing. “I am dreaming and need to wake up now.” Nope. “Wake up!”. Not that either. “Open your eyes” Nope. “For crying out loud, Myst, you have to wake up now! And stop reading all those fantasy books!” Her own angry face was staring back at her, yet nothing else happened. “Maybe I need to go to sleep here, so that I can wake up in the real world. That could be it.” She turned and saw the lot of them still standing there. Sighing, she walked towards them. “Look, I don’t mean any offense, but it is absolutely impossible by any stretch of nature, that you are real. You are all part of some fantasy story made up by writers in my world. Fantasy stories of which I’m a big fan, and Gandalf, I am a huge fan of yours! But fantasy is just that. Fantasy. It’s not real. That’s the whole point of fantasy, that it’s an escape from reality. It most definately does not get mixed up in it!” She plopped down in one of the chairs. “I need to get to sleep here, so I can wake up in the real world. Nothing will happen to you here, for you will not even realise I’m gone. In fact, you will not exist once I wake up. Because you don’t exist. I know that’s hard for you to hear, possibly, but that’s how it is. I’m sorry if it hurts, but no one can hide from the truth forever. So best to just face it and be done with it. So if you can take me to a room where I can go to sleep, then we can get this over with.” She hopped back to her feet, certain that they would all understand the logic and plain good sense of her argument, and started to take her leave of the different characters. Shaking hands and telling them how wonderful it was to meet them and maybe someday they’ll meet again in one of her other dreams. “Ok, I’m ready. Let’s go!” Feeling all excited now about this experience, she cast a huge smile at Namane, expecting the White to escort her to a room where she could go to sleep. The White Sister didn’t move, however. “Well?” Myst asked, getting a bit impatient about the lack of compliance to her, what she felt to be, perfectly logical explanation and sollution. No one moved or uttered a word. Myst now started to feel irritated and started tapping her foot on the floor, her hands going to her sides, her whole posture telling them all how foolish they were acting. “Fine! I’ll find a room myself then.” She turned towards the door and took one step towards it when suddenly the air closed in around her and she stood in placed, packed in as if wrapped in cellofane at a beauty parlor. “What the…” She struggled against the invisible bonds, but couldn’t so much as lift the tip of her finger, now firmly locked in place at her side. Her whole body was imobile except for her head, which she swung from side to side, trying to wriggle her way out of whatever it was that held her that way. “Release me this instance! You are in my dream!” Her lips clamped shut and no matter her attempts she couldn’t open them anymore. Panick now entered her eyes as this dream suddenly turned into a nightmare. Thoughts of Black Ajah, Trolloc cookpots and Ring Wraiths flooded through her mind and she desperately hoped she would wake up before it came to that. ‘This isn’t happening to me, it’s all a dream. Wake up Myst, please wake up!’
Sabrena had quite enough of the outbursts of this girl, and that in the presence
of her distinguished guests! The odacity of the child to think she could order
her around! Honestly! The aura surrounding her flared up brightly, visible only
to those women who also had access to the One Power. A dream? ‘I’ll turn her
dream into a nightmare if she doesn’t learn how to behave and learn quickly!’
The Amyrlin was fuming inside, though nothing of it showed on the outside and
she stood as though this was exactly what she had expected and a minor incident
at that. Which, if she stopped to think about, it was really. But the whole
image of this slip of a girl, standing there tapping her foot, ordering her
around and expecting them to jump when she said toad was simply too much to
“You will watch your tongue while you are in our presence, child or you will be taught to watch it. I will not stand for any tantrum throwing. We will sit down and talk like civilised people, in a calm and respectfull manner. You will be given the freedom of choice once you have been given all the information you need to make that choice and no sooner. Now I am going to remove the restraints from your mouth and you are going to answer me if you can adhere to these simple rules. Do you understand me, child?” Sabrena bore her eyes into that of the girl, who looked at her with fires spilling out of her eyelids. She wasn’t afraid, which was good. The last thing Sabrena wanted was to freighten her too much that she would run the moment she was capable to. Yet the defiant look also bothered her, for a certain measure of fear could be quite a helpfull tool in many occasions. The girl nodded after a moment, ceasing her struggling against the restraints and standing still and waiting. ‘Good’ Sabrena thought. ‘She can take controle of her emotions when she wants to.’ Secretely she did like this girl already. She reminded her of herself when she was a newly enlisted novice. Her spirit would prove one of her most valuable assets in the times to come. And one of her weakest points too, if not nurtured properly. She removed the gag from Myst’s mouth. Mystica moved her lips to make sure she could move them, moistening them so that she could speak. She then locked her eyes on the Amyrlin Seat and stood for a few moments in silence.
“I don’t promise what I can’t deliver so here is what I will promise. I will listen to what you have to say, though I do not promise that I will believe it. I will keep an open mind to any and all possibilities, though I will not easily accept what you want me to accept unless I am convinced. Freedom of choice implies a full and complete knowledge of the facts, both the good and the bad, so I will hold you to that before I make my choice. You went through a great deal of trouble getting me here, which means you expect something from me. My allegiance is to the Light, not the White Tower or the Valar and that will not change. I will question what you tell me and I will voice my opinion freely. My respect is earned, not demanded. Whether you will get my respect depends entirely on yourself. I do not equal fear to respect, ever.” Mystica delivered her promise calmly and in such strength that the Amyrlin couldn’t help but blink at it a few times.
“Fair enough.” Sabrena replied and released the bonds that held the girl in place. She applauded in silence the way Myst calmly arranged her clothing and walked back to the seating area in front of the fireplace, taking her seat and waiting for the rest of them to join her. All this time, the elves and the wizard had kept back. Observing the situation in silence. Now they each took a seat as did all the Sisters. Right at that time a knock on the door submitted a stream of Accepteds who rolled in trays loaded with food. They went about setting the round table at the window in silent effiency and in short order the room was cleared again, the smells of freshly baked food filling the air. All her attempts at copying Aes Sedai serenity went straight out the window as Myst’s stomach choose that precise moment to loudly announce it’s appreciation of the promise that those trays were holding. Casting a sheepish grin around the circle, she flushed a bright red, causing Gandalf to burst out laughing. The roaring laugh of the wizard was so honest and deep that soon all seven of them were laughing so hard that tears rolled down their cheeks. Including the three Aes Sedai.
“With your permission, Mother, I would like to suggest that we hold this conversation over a good meal.” Gandalf suggested.
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea to me, Master Gandalf” Sabrena replied as she whiped her tears away and led the way to the dining table.
The meal was elaborate and smelled delicious, though Myst couldn’t help but
notice that it was entirely made out of vegetables. Not one piece of meat was
to be seen, which for the meat eating woman was a strange thing indeed. Casting
a look at the Elves from beneath her eyelashes, she understood the reason behind
it though she was sure she remembered something about Elves being master bowmen
and had always assumed they hunted game. Maybe there was some difference between
the books she read and the reality of things. Shrugging internally shet set
about following Gandalf’s example and put her attention fully on her plate.
Greens and yellows and reds and browns and oranges were arranged in such a way
that her plate looked like a piece of art instead of a dinner course. If she
weren’t that hungry, she might not have dared disturb it. As it was she devowered
every last bit of it, satisfaction seeping through her with every bite. She
never would have guessed that vegetables could taste so rich and full of flavor.
They ate in silence for a while and it wasn’t untill Gandalf’s, and her, third helping that the people around the table began to ease back in their seat, the Elves smiling indulgingly at the two still eating, the Aes Sedai watching with serene expression. Myst felt their gaze on her and knew they were waiting for her to be finished. Gandalf cast her a cheeky grin before shoveling another spoon of peas in his mouth and it was all she could do from bursting out in laughter all over again. ‘This is supposed to be that grumpy old wizard?’ she wondered amusedly. Dapping her mouth with her napkin, she put her knife and fork on her plate in the manner indicating she was done and leaned back.
“that was delicious, thank you Mother and please let the Mistress of the Kitchens know how enjoyable her meals were.” Sabrena nodded at the girl, smiling slightly but remained silent. Myst squinted at the Amyrlin Seat, wondering why she was being all Aes Sedai with her now, untill a slight twitch of the woman’s eye towards Galadriel gave it away. The Elf Queen smiled openly and addressed the table, yet it was obvious that the others already knew what was coming.
“After we left Middle Earth we went to live with the Valar where we have been living in peace and harmony ever since. This was many hundreds of thousands of years ago, long before the history you now have in record. Yet not so long as the dinosaurs or the early humans, but we have managed to withdraw any information from our period in Middle Earth that might have led to our existance. This was done a few thousand years after the Return of the King, when mankind was once again falling to the pettiness and squarreling that they used to be prone to. It was decided that the humans would be left to their own pace, without any interference from the other races. The hobbits and dwarves were relocated and their whereabouts were shielded and kept hidden and they remain there to this day. Untroubled by the ways of humans or elves. This was to be the way untill Eru was to call us to his side at the end of time. It was so decided by the Valar and agreed to by the Hobbits and Dwarves. The humans weren’t asked an opinion as they had already declared that they did not want anything to do with any of us. Their memories have always been rather short, their fuses long.”
Galadriel peered into the eyes of every human at the table and Myst could not fault the Aes Sedai for starting to fidget and squirm in their seats under that look. It was not an angry look, but those eyes held a knowledge and wisdom accumulated over the Light knew how many years. She hoped she held herself as well as the Sisters did, though. For all of their fidgetting and squirming, they still looked perfectly in controle and their serenity never faltered. Myst swallowed a few times and repeatedly dropped her gaze as Galadriel looked at her. Right at the point where, to her horror, her cheecks were starting to heat up and she was sure a blush was rising to the surface, Galadriel continued her story.
“We were all content with this arrangement, the Elves having learned their lesson in their long exhile, the Hobbits ever wanting nothing more than to be left alone to their growing of plants and smoking of pipeweed, the Dwarves happily delving into the stones of the earth and the humans left to their own devices without any interference just as they wanted it. It was to continue to the end of time. But that is not the way of things. Even the Valar only know the songs after they have been sung even as they create them they do not know how the song will end up to be. Only Eru knows every song that ever was, is and ever will be.” She paused to take a sip of her wine. Silence stretched as no one stirred, so wrapped up in her story they all were, for that was the power of the Lady’s voice. It rang as a melody and made you yearn for more.
“Five years ago a message came to the Valar from Eru. The Enemy was approaching. At first, we all thought that Morgoth was returning and our hearts filled with despair, but it appears it was to be worse even. The message sent by Eru to Manwë, Lord of the Valar, held a promise as well as a doom.” Her voice suddenly changed as she started to recite the message and it seemed to those listening that the sun had suddenly burst open within the chamber. Glorious and dreadfull all at once.
“There is to come one such as my Children have not seen before. Destroyer of souls, Crusher of creation, Consumer of life, Bane of all that was, is and ever shall be. Yet hope is not abandonned as there is one that will stand against him at the Day of Reckoning. Find this child and bring her to Valinor. She dwells in the world of my creation, which my First Children call Arda and my Second have named Middle Earth and later Earth.”
Myst did not realise her mouth had dropped or that she sat staring at the High Elf with eyes the size of saucers. ‘They think I’m this child?? Are they insane?’ Her head started shaking her denial before she could stop it, but the Lady continued.
“For five years we searched as it was all but impossible to find such a child on those instructions alone. Untill finally, in our despair, Manwë begged Eru to help us. Another message came to us then, naming the child Mystica Ari’Yena, who dwelled in the city of Ghent, in the country of Belgium. She would have what it takes to pass the testing.”
Her head had not stopped shaking and now her entire body started to shake with it. She could not stop it as a fear unlike any she had ever known took hold of her. She looked around the table, at any sign of support, some of them must see how utterly ridiculous this was! The Aes Sedai sat looking at her with their serene faces, the Elves made the Sisters look like startled novices and Gandalf was stuffing his face with his fourth helping. The man was unbelievable! Who could eat after this!? Glaring at him, Myst tried to get grip on herself as she realised the Lady was done talking and they were all waiting for a reaction from her.
“Forgive me if I sound disrespectfull, my Lady,” she whispered to the High Elf, for her voice would not come through her throat fully, stuffed with the bundle of emotions that were battling to grab hold of her. “But you have to understand how unbelievable this sounds. You say Manwë received these messages from Eru himself. And conveniently, the Creator also gave you the name and whereabouts of the one you were supposed to find. A bit too convenient, it seems to me. From everything I’ve ever read, these things never come so clearly. Prophecies are shrouded in cloaks of mays and mights and have twenty thousand different possible outcomes, usually none of which is the right one. I can not believe that, should Eru decide to send such a message, that he would be so blatent about it. I mean, me? You have got to be kidding me! I’m nobody! I can’t even do my dishes in one go, let alone fight some flaming godlike enemy. There has to be some mistake!” As she spoke, her voice found it’s strength again and by the end it had regained all of it’s former fierceness and certainty. Anger and indignation had won the emotional roller coaster and they gave her the strength to go on. The idea that they would actually think her fool enough to believe such a preposterous story! Did they think they’d have an easier time dealing with a woman than they did with Rand al’Thor?
Tom was starting to lose his patience with these silk cladded women. They all threated him as if he were ten instead of a full grown man of thirtyfive. For what felt like the hundredth time, one of them was grasping his head without a word to him and frowned at him as though he did something on purpose. He started to open his mouth, raised a finger but never got so far as to show his teeth or get his finger on equal height with his elbow for she had turned and was talking to another three standing there, threating him as though he were a labrat. They hadn’t hurt him, just poked at him at random and at will, never a word to him, except to tell him to sit still and stop talking, but buckets full of words about him. As though he wasn’t sitting right there. The dangerous man who had accompanied him, he had nicknamed him Kitty somewhere between being poked in a morbid sense of humor and the name just stuck, stood at the wall next to the exit door. He hadn’t moved an inch since they got here and if a pigeon had landed on his head, it would not have seemed weird at all. One of the women, they all seemed to have a preference for yellow in their clothing as their dresses were slashed, pokedotted, splashed all over by it, turned to him again and raised her hands as if to poke him some more. That did it. He took hold of her wrist and stood up from the table they had deposited him on when he arrived.
“If it is alright with you,” He said in a soft voice, “I’ve been poked, prodded, grabbed and threated like an item long enough. I’ve been patient, polite, accommodating and God knows what else ever since I got here, wherever ‘here’ is. You people obviously did something to my car, probably never gave a second thought who might get hurt in the process, and I will know what is going on before I cooperate any further.” They were all four of them watching him, their faces now twenty, then sixtyfour, their posture calm and serene, hands folded in front of them. If he didn’t know any better he’d say they were nuns. Nuns didn’t walk around in silks though, nore did they have men like Kitty guarding them. For a change, Kitty hadn’t moved. Tom had been ready to give the man a piece of his mind, but there was no need. The statue remained at the door, unmoved, unblinking. None of the women spoke, so he continued. “Now, one of those girls said that I was to be taken to someone called Amelia Seat once it was established I was not injured. You’ve established that quite some time ago already, so I suggest you let me go to this Amelia who had better have some answers for me as I am starting to lose my patience here. I’m not a violent man, but this ordeal is enough to drive a Saint to violence.” Blank faces regarded him and he was starting to think that maybe these women were all a bit sick in the head. Or at least none too bright. Maybe he needed to use simple words and small sentences. Formulating exactly that in his mind, he missed the glance the women cast each other and next he knew, Kitty was standing before him, seasing his arm and drawing towards the door.
“What? Where are you taking me?” He demanded. “Will you let go of me!” The man stopped, but Tom got the feeling it wasn’t at his request. One of the women came to stand before him and smiled.
“You were right,” she said, not unkindly, “We did get carried away a bit in examining you and forgot about your appointment with the Mother. So you are being taken to her, as you requested. I trust that is to your liking?” She waited for his nod and then turned around and dismissed him from her mind. His arm grabbed once more, he was turned to the door and out of it before he could say ‘thank you’. By now he knew that Kitty wouldn’t kill him out of hand and he rounded on the man, this time.
“You lead the way, I follow. Without being dragged like a sack of potatoes. Deal?” For a moment he thought the man would refuse, but then he turned without a word and started out the hallway and Tom had to quicken his pace to keep up. As they walked, and they walked for quite some time, his mind drifted, trying to make sense of it all and failing at each turn. He was a sober man, most of the time, not one to give into the foolish fantasies others seemed to like to indulge themselves in. He liked things real. The news, sports, working with his bare hands at his forrest cottage in the French Camarques. The only reason he lived in a city was because he couldn’t earn the money needed to do what he liked elsewhere. He had not yet given up his dream of one day moving to his cottage permanently and living from the land and the forrest and leave all the hustle and bustle of the city behind him. Real, honest, down to earth things, that was what he liked. Fantasies were for children. And yet, he had never seen buildings like this and he had seen plenty in his time. There was nothing to show how it was built, the walls were too smooth for it to be morter, they almost seemed like glass yet felt like stone. But that wasn’t what was strange about it. The entire building seemed to be made from one single piece of stone. That was impossible, he knew. For no stone, not even a mountain, was this big. Well maybe a mountain, but there was no way to transform a mountain into such a smooth building, the stones so conveniently layed out that they would allow for all the hallways, rooms and chambers he had seen so far and he knew he only saw the bare minimum of it. He did not like things that did not fit his sense of reality. Yet, he could not but be in awe of this building. As they walked he became aware of his feelings and they surprised him. He felt both weary and relaxed. Weary of the impossibility he had witnessed so far and relaxed from the soothing atmosphere the building eminated. He thought he felt safe here, which was really odd, given his situation and Kitty who was still walking without a word or slowing his pace.
They walked for what seemed like ages. Up one flight of stairs, down two
others, through a corridor of closed rooms, across a hall the size of a football
field, through another set of corridors and up a set of spiralling stairs that
didn’t seem to end. By the time they reached the landing at the end, Tom’s breath
was heaving, his sides burning and his knees almost buckled under the strain.
Kitty stood waiting for him to catch his breath, looking as though he had just
gotten out of bed after a good night’s sleep. Not wanting to let the man better
him, Tom straightened up, took a few long slow breaths and nodded. The man turned
and walked into one of the open doors and Tom found himself in what looked like
a reception office. A desk stood against the far wall with couches positioned
against the side walls, each having several small tables, with what looked like
the ying-yang symbol worked into the surface of them. He took that as a good
sign, for ying-yang was usually used by those that in some way identified with
some version of Buddhism. And Buddhism was the most peacefull religion of the
world. Everyone knew that much.
Kitty bent forward to speak to the girl in the white dress with the colorred cuffs and as he straightened she rose, quite gracefully Tom thought and he was surprised to find himself thinking she managed to mimick the attitude of the silk cladded women quite nicely, and knocked firmly on the door next to her desk three times. It opened and a silk lady came out, asking what she wanted.
“Excuse the interruption, Manola Sedai, but the Amyrlin Seat ordered this man be brought to her immediately after the Sisters of the Yellow had declared him healthy.” The young woman’s voice was steady, not at all like those girls who had accompanied him to the infermary, and she regarded the one in silk calmly and almost as an equal.
“Yes, very well, thank you Alanna.” The silk one said and motioned at Tom to follow her before opening the door again and stepping through. He quickly followed her in and stopped short iside the room as the scene was unfolded before him. Seven people were in the room, only one seemed real. A woman standing in cloths he recognised, looking at him with fierce eyes that still managed to look sad as they met his. There were three women in silk, as he had come to think was normal for this place, but then his reality shattered as he took in the other three. One woman of such bearing that he instantly labelled her a Lady or even a Queen and two men, one of which had the same look as the Lady, though less briljant, and one that looked like some sort of wizard wannabe. And yet, he got the feeling that these people were not playing Halloween. The woman and man with the regal bearing were tall, much taller than any normal people he’d ever seen, except for the few on television that were known for their unsual height and most basket ball players, but their height was only the least of their weirdness. Their whole body eminated an aura of ultimate wisdom and knowledge, the kind that could only come from long experience, yet he could think of no experience that would give someone this level of radiance. The man in the long robes was also tall, but he didn’t give off that same radiance as the other two. Tom got the feeling that this man was more of a mischievous type, with a ready smile and an eager laugh. He had no idea where that thought came from, but there it was.
Kara was fussing with her fishtank again. Pete glanced at her, a loving smile
on his face that totally went unnoticed by the tall beautiful woman, muttering
to herself while plunging her hand back in the tank, trying to make that flaming
plastic castle to remain in its place. Standing up right, instead of sinking
halfway into the sand.
“Stupid fish!” Pete heard her growl softly and he smiled more broadly as he turned back to his game on the computer. He knew how much she loved those small creatures and how each one that died had torn at her. At least that ordeal was over now. The remaining seventeen swam around the tank, dodging in and out of the different structures Kara had installed in the tank and settling in quite nicely. Why she fussed over them more than she did over him at times.
The woman straightened from her work and gave the fish a warning look. ‘You’d all better stay alive from here on!’ that look said. She went to her own computer, her mind already returning to the worrying thoughts she’s had for some time now. It wasn’t like her sister to be gone so long. Where in the nine blazing layers of Hell was Mystica? She didn’t respond to her text messages on her cellphone either.
Chewing her lip worriedly she logged into her msn account. Maybe one of the Reds had heard something.
Galadriel regarded the girl silently, sad eyes taking in the panick, the
unbelief, the incredulity. Her eyes were always sad, it seemed. The peace and
grace of Valinor had not changed the pain she felt all those many thousands
of years. Pain at the brothers and sisters lost to the endless sleep till Eru
would call for them. Pain at her own part in the fight that set brother against
brother. Pain at having to leave her beloved Middle Earth and even pain at having
to turn her back on those troublesome humans. Thousands of years she’d moarned
them, thought of them, prayed for them. And now she was back. Back amongst those,
the ancient ones called the Second Children. How little they had changed, how
hot the fires in their eyes still burned for personal gain and profit. Would
they ever learn? Could they learn? It was hard for an Elf to understand the
ways of humans, for no Elf could fully understand what it meant to be mortal.
To have only a very brief moment on Middle Earth, before being called to Eru’s
hand. They feared death, these humans. Feared it as though it were a curse instead
of a gift. That too was Morgoth’s fault. The Gift turned into a fear. Probably
Mordeth’s greatest success, despite many of his other, more spectacular, feats.
For this corruption had lasted. Passed from one generation to the next, each
time fueled higher, the pain ground deeper into their bones, the certainty of
the wrongness of it growing with every child that was born. Yes, this was definately
the biggest of all of Morgoth’s crimes. And now, now all rested on the shoulders
of this one girl. Galadriel wanted to scream her fear out to the heavens above,
flatten herself to the ground, begging Eru to send them a more suitable champion.
How could they trust any human with such a task? Hadn’t they failed over and
over again in all those ages? Hadn’t they proven, over and over again what a
petty, selfish, childish race they still were? Even after all this time?
She felt a soothing energy flow into her and didn’t need to turn her head. Elrond had sensed her pain, suddenly flaring up to new heights, and had guessed the source of it. His calm certainty in the wisdom of Eru washed over her and helped her to gain a grip on herself. How strange as things could turn. Where once Elrond had been the one to most doubt the humans among all Elves, he was now the only one to share the faith in them that Eru had shown. Elrond had always understood these children better than any other Elf, which was probably due to him having been part human himself. At the beginning, Elrond was only half-Elf. The other half of him was human. For he, like his brother, had been born from an Elven mother and a human father. Given the choice between the two races his brother had opted for human, but Elrond had chosen to be Elf. And so now he was Elf. But that seed in him had never been gone, that flame that came from his father. It had made Elrond appear more human than Elf many times, not always the best of ways, but it also gave him an understanding the others of their kind could not gain. His belief in this girl was as unshakable as the love of the Father for all his creation and it flooded his energy with a calm and a soothing that never failed to easy the uncertainty in her soul.
“Yes,” She said to the girl, her voice now soft and warm. “I do understand
how unbelievable it is. But I promise you by the sacred Light of Elendir, Mystica,
it is the truth. I would not lie about something like this, as I think you know
in your heart to be true.” The girl nodded, seeming unaware of doing so, and
she continued. “Real life is a little different from what is written in the
books, even those that are supposed to depict an honest representation of events
and facts. There is no time to waste and so Eru gave us what information we
needed to find you. Even with this it will be a race against time itself and
then you may still find yourself not fully ready.” Again she felt the soothing
embrace of Elrond’s energy surrounding her. He had felt that she was about to
lose her calm in her voice and was shielding her from it. She had never been
more greatfull for his ability to that then at that veery instance. They couldn’t
afford to let this child see them afraid. She needed to feel that they trusted
her, believed in her. So that she could start believing in herself.
“But.. “ Mystica struggled to speak, “if it is so dire, so urgent, why doesn’t the Creator himself step in to stop this enemy? Why come find me now and not sooner, when there would have been time to spare? Surely He, of all in existance, must have known that this was coming.” All reasonable questions. Simple, perhaps, but no less important.
“I do not know, Mystica. Not even Manwë himself knows, for Eru has not informed us of this. We were told to find you and bring you to Valinor.” Galadriel looked at the girl, wondering if she would ask the most obvious of questions.
“But you didn’t come for me” Mystica said. “Instead you came here, another world, and you sent these women to come for me. Why? How? What is this place? Is it a world or is it some illusion, to make all this more easy to swallow to my mind? Why use one fantasy to prove the reality of another? Surely you must have direct access to Middle Earth itself. So why this detour? And to this place, of all places. This fantasy of all fantasies.” Galadriel could see the girl was nowhere near convinced yet, though she didn’t seem to question her words so much as her own state of mind. That was good, though dangerous. They had to make her see that this was not some sort of illusion or trick of the mind. She had to acknowledge the reality of things.
“Because too many humans on Middle Earth would still recognise us as Elves” Elrond said suddenly. Mystica turned to him. “And because we were instructed by Manwë to do it like this. No more would he say, for no more would Eru say to him. You are to be brought to Valinor, through means of the Aes Sedai of this world, to face Eru himself and be tested by him. On that, everything depends. All that was, is and ever shall be.”
Silence fell over the room and the girl stared somberly into her plate. Galadriel
felt a stab of sorrow through her heart as she could see the loneliness in this
stooped body. ‘You will not bear this burden alone, child.’ She thought. ‘No,
she will not. We will be there to support her. Us and others as well.’ Her eyes
met Elrond’s over the table and she nodded telepathically to him in response
to his thoughts. Gandalf, having finally stopped ravaging his sixth plate of
food for a while, sat back in his chair. His eyes seemingly glazed over by a
sleepy haze, yet he did not fool Galadriel. Mithrandir was well aware of where
he was, who he was with and what had occurred. She suspected that not only had
he followed every word, but he also knew exactly what went on in each head around
that table. And yet, he sat, silently, not interrupting or participating in
the conversation in any way. She wondered why he kept himself at a distance.
The White Wizard never did anything, or refrained from doing something,
without a cause. His eyes met hers and a twinkle shone in them. With a shock,
Galadriel felt herself suddenly filled with hope. This hadn’t happened to her
in, well, ever since she first set foot in Valinor the first time she went there.
Long before her exile to Middle Earth.
Maybe… Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad as she had thought after all.
Sabrena sat silently throghout the dinner and listened while the High Elf
spoke. Inside, she shuddered at the story though she had heard it before, but
her attention was on the girl. She did not know why this child was picked, but
she instinctively felt they could have gotten a lot worse. The girl sat, her
head bowed over her plate, her face showing every emotion from fear to indignation
and yet, Sabrena couldn’t shake the feeling that this girl was going to make
the difference. She had to! Suddenly a knock came on the door and she tsk’d.
She had told express instructions that they were not to be disturbed!
“Come!” She barked at the door, her tone such that every head at the table snapped up, eyes looking at her and then the door in surprise. The Accepted on duty opened the door, bobbed a curtsey and informed her that the man from the strange thing in the front of the Tower was there, following the Amyrlin’s instructions that he be sent to her immediately after his health was established. She had forgotten all about him!
“Very well, child. Send him in.” Her voice back in controle, she rose from her seat, the others following her example, and stood facing the door. They all regarded the man that stepped through it silently. He stood gaping at them, his hand rising to his hair to brush away a string that had fallen on his forehead. He wore strange cloths, though not unlike those Mystica herself wore. The Keeper stepped forward a few steps, positioning herself between Sabrena and the man.
“You are in the presence of the Amyrlin Seat, Watcher of the Seals, Flame of Tar Valon.” Manora’s voice rang out in the traditional introduction. The man looked even more confused at that, as well he should. Sabrena suppressed a sigh at her Keeper and stepped forward as well.
“Welcome, my son.” She addressed the man. “I trust you are in good health?” The man just stood there, mouth still agape. Was he perhaps simple of mind? Maybe he did not understand their language. The girl suddenly walked past her and straight up to the man, grabbing his hand in hers.
“Hi, I’m Mystica but you can call me Myst.” She said with a warm voice, smiling. “We speak English here. Do you speak English?” The man nodded at her. Well, at least he wasn’t deaf! Sabrena was annoyed. Fool man. “Great!” the girl exclaimed, smiling even broader. Honestly, they were going to have to do something about that constant outbursting of emotions she showed. Sabrena sniffed loudly, causing the girl to turn her head and, shockingly, cast her a warning glance. Warning! She opened herself up to the Source but before she could reach for it a hand lightly touched her arm. Whipping her head around, she looked straight into the eyes of Galadriel. She released the Source, calming herself with an effort, ashamed of having lost controle so easily. She was Amyrlin! It was flaming time she acted as it!
“What happened to you?” Mystica asked at the man.
“I, ….. I don’t know really.” He said, brushing that same lock from his forehead. “I was driving home, there was a traffic jam so I was waiting it out and suddenly a flash and half of my car was here on the square outside, with me in it. My car slashed as though by a razor blade through hot butter. Then a couple of girls took me to what they said would be the infermerie, but when we got there all that happened was a couple of women in yellow dresses poking and touching me. Finally I had enough and told them that the Amelia Seat wanted to see me as soon as they declared me healthy. I don’t know who or what this Amelia Seat is though.” He looked at Mystica. “Who are you? What is this place? What’s going on? Why are you laughing? I don’t find this funny!” His face grew dark and for a moment Sabrena thought he was going to attack the girl. She almost opened herself up to the Source again. Mystica suddenly bursted out in a roaring laugh, holding her sides, waving her hands in denial to the man, whose face grew darker and darker by the second. Had the girl gone off the edge?
“Child?” Manola asked, voice worried. “Are you alright?”
“yes, yes, I’m fine.” Mystica laughed. “Oh Light! What’s your name?” She asked the man. Still chuckling.
“Tom” He barked. Not at all amused.
“God, Tom. You really shouldn’t make a woman laugh like this. Especially not after she’s just eaten. It’s Amyrlin Seat, not Amelia Seat!” She doubled over laughing again and Sabrena bristled inside from fury. She was bloody laughing at her! Wait, no, not her, the …. Suddenly the humor of it all struck her and she couldn’t surpress a smile of a her own. ‘Light,’ she thought, ‘I really am more on edge than I realised if I let such a small thing get to me so easily. I had better get a grip on myself again, before I fully make a mockery of the Stole around my shoulders.’
“I am the Amyrlin Seat, my son. Come, let us sit and have some tea as we talk.” She gestured towards the couches in front of the fireplace as the Keeper went to instruct the Accepted outside to bring the tea.
Tom hesitated, looking over the assembled people in the room untill finally his eyes locked with Myst’s. She nodded encouragingly to him and grabbed him by the arm, pulling him towards one of the chairs.
They sat on the chairs and couches, each enjoying a nice cup of tea, though
Myst would give a great deal for a cup of coffee instead. Her mind drifted towards
her tea worshipping sis, Kara. She’d have loved this. Tom sat on the edge of
his seat, looking confused, puzzled, anxious, all kinds of things she was sure
she herself has felt since this whole thing began.
“What we’re about to tell you, Tom” She said, “Is going to sound so unbelievable that you will think it a very bad joke. But keep in mind what happened to your car. Keep in mind everything you have seen and heard since you arrived here. Would anyone go through that much trouble just to play a joke on you? Keep track of that which your eyes, hands and ears tell you when your mind starts protesting to what it knows can not be true.” She waited then and he slowely nodded. ‘Good,’ she thought, ‘at least he’s open enough to possibilities and not one of those that would not believe black is black even if they were pushed into it head first.’
“You’ve stumbled into another world.” She said without any further introduction. Sabrena made a vexed sound and Myst glanzed at her. It wasn’t like a sister to let out that much surprise, so it must have been done deliberately. And sure enough, those eyes told her to be carefull with what she said. Did she think Myst was an idiot? Still, Tom didn’t seem like the type that would swallow some vague, offhand story and leaving him to fill in the gaps could be just as dangerous, or even more so, than trying to be as truthfull and as open as possible. As possible, that was the key. And the trick.
“That’s not possi…” Tom began but then cut off, looking around himself, remember her words not to just trust on what his mind knew. He closed his mouth, pressing his lips to a small line, a frown starting on his forehead. He nodded curtly. ‘Yes,’ Myst thought. ‘An open mind indeed. Thank the Light.”
“You were brought here by something called a Gateway. Now, to explain this world to you would take way too long, but I’ll try to summarise things a little. In this world there is what we on Earth would call magic. Here, that is called channeling, the One Power, the Source. Basically it boils down to some people being able to use certain energy patterns to make things happen. Consider the Source as a big, humongous well that is filled with a vast amount of liquid silver. Only the silver isn’t liquid, but clowdy more. The channelers from this world, tap into that well, draw out one or several strings of clowds, called threads, and use them seperately or combined to perform certain things. There are different types of threads, based on the different elements in Nature. Depending on which threads they use and what combination they make they can do different things with it. Now this well is divided between a male and a female half. It is the same well, but men can only draw from one half and women from another half. You with me so far?” Despite his reserve, Tom was leaning towards her, intent on what she was saying. He nodded impatiently, apparently eager for her to continue.
“Now one of the things channelers can do is create Gateways. Doorways into other places. I wasn’t aware they could create Gateways to other worlds, though. From what i know a Gateway would open in another location somewhere on this world. Like back home, you could be in Ghent and open a gate to Brussel, step through and be in Brussels. Or in New Zealand. Or Africa. Or anywhere. And the traveling to that place would be just as easy and as quick no matter how far it was. The Aes Sedai here in this world, that is the name of the main body of channelers here, have created such a Gateway to Earth in an attempt to find me. There was something wrong with the calculations however, eventhough they spent three hundred years researching and perfecting it, and it mistakingly opened on the highway. Right on top of your car as you drove through the spot where it was opening. Now, normally, if it opened on top of your car, your car would be sliced in two but each part would still be where it was. I don’t know why the front part was brought here as though it went through the gate. Maybe it’s because the car was in motion at the time the Gateway formed. In any case, you being here is a mistake in their effort to try to get to me. The Light be thanked that you’re still alive and well and no one else got hurt in this. There is quite a bit of material damage on the highway, but no major injuries or deaths. The news was clear on that.” Mystica fell silent and watched Tom’s face. ‘Very well done’ Sabrena’s voice whispered to her from the side and Myst flushed slightly. Her shoulders straightened themselves and her back followed, her head rose slightly, proud of the compliment. She cast the Amyrlin a sheepish grin and turned back to the man sitting to her right.
“You will be brought back to your world” Sabrena said to Tom “But you must promise not to speak of this to anyone until Mystica says it’s ok to do so. It is vital that you keep this to yourself. Not even to those closest to you.” Tom was shaking his head while she spoke and, rubbing his hand through his hair again, laughed.
“Who would I tell? Who would believe me? They’d think I lost my mind and was ready for the insane assylum.”
“You must promise!” Sabrena repeated, a bit more forcefull this time.
“Allright, allright,” Tom replied. “I promise never to reveal a word of this to anyone until Mystica says it’s ok.” Sabrena relaxed and Myst shook her head. They may be used to people keeping their word, but they didn’t know the humans on Earth.
“Tom,” She looked at him, “I know how it sounds, trust me. Hell, I know of this world only through the books from a fantasy writer, of all things! It took me quite a bit longer than you to accept all this as real, I can tell you that much. Can you imagine? A world that is supposed to be made up by an author, writing fiction, suddenly appears to be real? I’m still not certain this is not some sort of sick joke, to be honest. But consider this, just in case it is true, it can’t hurt to keep it to ourselves untill we are certain no harm can come of it. The Light knows our world is already plagued enough by wars, famine, decease and God knows what other vile things.” He’d started nodding again, more passionate this time. “Now, I live in Ghent too, or at least I used to. And us Gentenaars,” she grinned at him, “ aren’t as easily taken by the lure of fantasy and wannabe witches and other such lofty nonsense that make people feel better about themselves. We got our feet on the ground and, eventhough we love to read fantasy, we know it for what it is and don’t go mixing it up with reality.” He kept on noddig his agreement. “But, we also have the courage to accept that reality, no matter how odd it may be and we move on and make the best of it.” She said, a bit more forcefull now.
“This is not a joke, Tom. This is dead serious. And untill I get to the bottom of this, and I will, I promise you that, it is very important that you keep this to yourself. One way or the other, I will find you and let give you more information once I have gained it myself. Ok?”
“I said I would, didn’t I?” Tom said, affronted that she would doubt his word. She just looked at him. Face blank. “Alright,” He said. Understanding what she was thinking and not being able to deny the fact. Not that he was in the habbit of breaking his promises, but he knew too well how often people felt they didn’t break their word just by telling a joke.
Sabrena rose from her seat and the others followed her.
“Alright,” she repeated and stuck out her hand towards Tom, palm down, Great Serpent Ring to the top. “A sister will bring you back to your world now. I am sorry you had to go through this, Tom. And I am greatfull for your promise.”
Tom looked at her hand, then her face and then to Myst. The girl nodded and he took the hand and shook it. A gasp rose from the sisters in the room. Myst rolled her eyes at them. Of course they had expected him to bow and kiss the ring on the Amyrlin’s hand, but honestly, did they have to be so surprised that things were done quite differently in other worlds? Sabrena herself said nothing and continued to smile tolerantly, while returning the handshake, all be it a little awkward.
“Manola, would you see to it that Tom is properly sent back to his world, please?” The Keeper curtsied to the Amyrlin and then motioned for Tom to follow her to the door. With a last glance at Myst, the man followed. The frown had never left his face, she just realised. She hoped he’d keep his word.
No one knew where Myst was. Not a word, not a note. Nothing. Kara fretted and worried, her mind going in all directions at once. It just wasn’t like her to dissapear like that! It wasn’t! Tay hadn’t been online in a while and she didn’t respond to any of her text messages either, but she at least had posted a leave of absence. She wondered if she could contact Myst’s work and ask if they knew what was going on. It wasn’t like her to be so intrusive, but this were unusual times. Making a decision she went to google Myst’s name and found her work information, including an email. After a little search she found some names of the people in the department she worked at and picked one at random. Five minutes later she was back to pacing her living room. Where was she?!
Mystica turned towards the others once Tom and the Keeper dissapeared through
the door and silence fell for a moment. They were all considering her with those
unreadable, serene faces. So serene that she felt an itch of annoyance growing
between her shoulderblades. The strain of keeping herself from panicking was
starting to reach unbearable proportions. She didn’t have years of training
like these guys and she wasn’t the type to hide her emotions as they were taught
to do. She sighed, recognising the futility of her rebellion. She still didn’t
believe things were that simple, or that this was real for that matter, but
she couldn’t just close her eyes to the evidence she asked Tom to consider just
a few moments before.
“So now what?” she asked simply.
“You must come with us to Valinor.” The Elf male, Elrond, said.
“Must?” She asked. “What happened to my choice?” She still wasn’t ready to fully give up her rebellion and definately not her independence or freedom of choice. They could not be made to believe that she was some easily manipulated little girl that would hop everytime they said toad.
“That choice still lies ahead of you, Mystica.” Galadriel answered. “After you have heard all that you must hear. After your meeting with Eru.” Her voice took on a level of reverence, every time she spoke that name, as well it should. It wasn’t every day that one was going to meet the Creator. Light! The Creator! Myst remember with a small heart how she boasted about boxing his ears and telling him straight for all the stuff he’s let her suffer through the years. Not realising she was shaking her head in denial of the whole thing still, she sighed out loud.
“They have not lied to you, girl.” The old wizard finally spoke, in that scrapy yet warm, deep voice of his. “None of them have.” Mystica almost dismissed what he said, knowing all too well how Aes Sedai could dance the truth on the edge of a sharp blade, but that last bit stopped her. Elves had no such restriction. They could lie if they wanted to. She looked at Gandalf and found herself drawn in by those deep dark pools that were his eyes. Her mind instantly allerted her to the possibility of some wizard trick, but she dismissed it. No, he was honest with her. Of course, she could not know if that certainty wasn’t a trick the wizard had done, but nevertheless it strenghtened her and comforted her.
“Alright,” She said, taking a deep breath and straightening her back. “If it must be, then it must be. I suppose you want to leave immediately?” She addressed Galadriel and the Lady nodded.
“Yes,” She said, “The sooner the better.”
Mystica started when suddenly a line of light appeard in the middle of the room, rotating around itself as it grew wider and stretched out to form a gateway. She felt an itch again, but this time covering her entire body. The use of the One Power must have her unnerved, she figured and watched as the Elves filed through the gateway with Gandalf at their heels.
“You next, child.” Sabrena motioned her through the gate with a nod of her head and Myst hesitantly stepped through the gate. Once again lifting her feet up ridiculously high. Well she couldn’t help it! She didn’t want to end up with half her feet sliced off!
She was startled to see Sabrena stepping through the gate as well.
(continuation from 2009)
The gateway closed behind Sabrena but Myst’s attention was already elsewhere.
They stood on what had to be the greenest meadow ever. Everything here seemed
to breath life and light. The grass was thick, soft and of a vibrant green.
The trees lining the meadow were gigantic, yet appeared to be in the spring
of their lives. Flowers of all colors dotted the meadow, delicately rising above
the carpet of grass, giving off a harmony of scents that tickled Myst’s nostrils
in a very pleasant and inviting manner. The sky was of a briljant blue, with
pure white cottonball clowds playfully floating on a refreshing spring breeze.
Myst noticed that Sabrena, while maintaining her Aes Sedai serenity, was equally
shocked by the beauty of the place and looked around in wonder every bit as
much as she herself did. They looked at each other and both women smiled, sharing
the moment without shame or reserve.
“This way” Elrond said, and took off over the meadow straight ahead towards the treeline opposit the place the gateway had opened. As they walked, Myst noticed that she felt refreshed with each step, as though the very air was feeding her energy, rejuvinating her. Her heart felt light and she felt her usual distrust seeping out of her as though drawn out by the glistening grass beneath her feet. She felt a strong urge to take off her shoes, so not to spoil the ground and the plants underfoot, but she resisted. The last thing they needed, was the odeur of her sweaty feet in this marvelous place, she thought self-consciously. They walked in silence for what seemed hours but felt only minutes. The elves gliding over the grass, as though their feet never disturbed the ground. They entered the forrest straight ahead and it was as though they were entering yet another world. The ground was covered in soft brown twigs and dark green mosses, mushrooms sprouting out of the ground in all directions. The trees themselves were tall and lean, their trunks a shining silver color, the canope of their leaves draping itself far up in the sky, creating a natural ceiling that cut off the sun yet let through the light still to feed the plantlife below that thrived in the light but could not stand direct sunlight. On ground floor, the forrest looked like a maze of trunks, some narrow, others as wide as a large house. Squirrels hopped on and off the floor, looking for eikhorns, twigs or moss to take back to their nests up in the trees. Deer delicately sprung between the trees, unbothered by the passing of their party, used to living in peace and harmony with the other dwellers of this land. Myst heard the cries of birds overhead, but could not see them through the thick leave covered ceiling of the forrest. Huge shadows passed over them as the birds moved by and Sabrena glanced upwards.
“Manwe’s giant eagles” Myst informed her. Knowing the Amyrlin’s first thought would be of Shadowspawn, though it was beyond Myst how anyone could believe that anything dark or evil could even enter this land. And yet, that was exactly what had happened in the past. Best she not forget that. Sabrena eyed her briefly before returning to her silent walk, following the elves who had not slowed or shown any kind of surprise at the birds’ presence. Suddenly Myst stopped and turned around in a circle. Galadriel looked back at her.
“Is there something wrong?” she asked.
“Gandalf.” Myst said. “Where is he?”
The wizard was neither in front nor in the back and though they had a clear view for miles through the tree trunks, Myst could not see him anywhere.
“He has gone ahead to inform the Valar of our coming.” Galadriel said.
Myst frowned at that. Surely the Valar were instantly aware of anyone entering Valinor? Elrond smiled, having noticed her frown and deducting her reasoning.
“This is not Valinor yet, Mystica” he said. “You will notice when we enter the land of the Valar.” With that he turned and resumed his walk.
She looked at his back incredulously. Surely this had to be Valar? What other place could possibly hold this much grace? Convinced that they were having a joke at her expense, she followed slightly annoyed. And Gimli thought elves had no sense of humor. Ha!
They walked for two hours without getting tired and more remarkably, in Myst’s case, without any pain. She just could not get used to this painless manner of being. Having had to live with a constant state of pain in some part of her body for so many years, it now felt like she was enhabitting a different body all together.
Suddenly the trees gave way to a field that made the meadow look like a pitiful patch of green in the middle of an industrial city, clogged with poluting factories. Myst stopped dead in her tracks, as did Sabrena all thoughts of Aes Sedai serenity lost in the face of what lied before them.
A golden carpet from millions of tiny sunflowers lay covering the entire
span of the field in front of them, sparkling in the warm rays of the sun above.
Pathways of deep green grass lay gently over the carpet, intersecting at various
places, forming a maze that did not interfere in the beauty of the surrounding
carpet but added to it in an almost musical harmony. Here and there patches
of bright reds and deep purples and warm oranges formed quilts of nectar for
the many buzzing bees and birds fluttering in and out, their song soothing away
any fears or sorrow that lingered in the depts of a person’s heart. Where before
Myst had felt herself being lifted from her burdens, now she could not even
remember them. Had she died? Had the elves led her to her death? Could she enter
this field of utter perfection or would she spoil it by her mere presence? Her
feet were glued to the ground, not touching the green in front of them. Unwilling
to soil that beauty. The elves stood, waiting for her and Sabrena to adjust
to the enormity of emotions that overwhelmed them. Their faces were serene,
friendly and inviting. And above all else, knowing. They knew well the effect
this place had on any mortal, having brought a few of them here after the Valar
had cealed it to all mortals. Unknown to Mystica and Sabrena, the elves rejoiced
in their experience almost as much as they themselves did, for here everything
was shared. The joys of one became the joys of all, enhancing the powerful positive
energies that floated unseen on the winds of time and surrounded the worlds
that lay across the pattern of Existence.
“Valinor” Myst whispered, reverently. Her voice small yet jubilent, for nothing could stop the burst of pure happiness that overtook her in this place.
Elrond smiled broadly and nodded.
“Yes” he said. “Welcome to the home of the Valar and the Elves.”
A figure approached over one of the green pathways and as it drew closer, Myst recognised the man as Gandalf. He now wore a briljant white robe that glistened in the sunlight and swung around him as though dancing to an unheard tune. He seemed much younger here.
“Welcome Mystica! Welcome Sabrena! To Valinor” His voice boomed, face smiling broadly. “If you would please follow me, the Valar are expecting you.” And with that he turned and walked back the way he had come. Elrond and Galadriel immediately followed but Mystica and Sabrena looked at each other and eyed the pathway questioningly. Surely they could not trod on that green? Their guides moved off in to the distance rapidly and Myst and Sabrena had to run to catch up to them. Feeling a pang of guilt every time her foot hit the ground, she cursed her clumsiness and eyed Sabrena’s light footedness wistfully. Yet the Aes Sedai also looked pained at having to thread on this beautiful piece of grass. That in turn made Myst feel even more like a stampeding horde of elephants.
Beyond the field rose a city unlike Myst had ever imagined. Not even Tar Valon could hold a candle to it. It was as though Nature herself had molded it, shaped it and ordained all creatures and elements under her domain to respect it and leave it untarnished. Of course, Myst thought nervously, in a way that’s exactly how it went, given how the Valar each had dominion over one element of nature.
They entered the city through a living arch from rosevines that held blossoms of all colors. Soft green carpets lay over the floor everywhere you looked. Houses seemed to have either sprouted out from the ground, or grown in to the trunks of massive trees. Myst was pretty sure no tree was ever hurt or cut by these people. It was quite a sight and Sabrena looked around in wonder every bit as much as Myst did. Aes Sedai serenity completely forgotten. They walked between the houses and trees and were the center of attention to the elves that walked the roads or came out of their homes to have a look at them. For them, this was a unique situation as well, since never before had mortals been allowed on these fields. They probably all knew why they were here, for their faces were solemn, even sad in some cases. Although, Myst figured elves had a perpetual look of forlonging from what she could remember. They always seemed to be in a constant state of moarning. Lamenting being one of their most practiced arts. The tall, stately elves made her feel small and clumsy though, and she didn’t like to be confronted with that fact. She hated mirrors, because they showed her a shell that did not fit her inner self and brought home the fact that she was too weak to fix it. This was much worse, each of the elves they saw made her feel a waste of flesh. In the face of such beauty and grace, Myst felt herself shrink inside. Years of honesty, however, had made her alert to these inner turmoils and she spotted it soon. ‘Get a grip, woman’ she spoke firmly to herself. ‘Remember, they came to look for you. So if anything, you can’t be wasted flesh or they’d have gone looking for another.’ That line of thinking brought a whole new set of worries, of course. ‘What did they want of her? She had nothing. Was nothing. She had no special skills or talents that could be of use to anyone. ‘Perhaps she was to be sacrificed? Elves had led people to their deaths before, in the name of the greater good. Aes Sedai were no strangers to that either, come to think of it.’ She shook her head. That line of thinking wouldn’t get her anywhere either. No, she’d play their game and see where it put her and then decide what to do once the situation laid before her. She took a firm grip on her independence, her stubborness and her courage and determined to face whatever came, she walked next to Sabrena in silence, following Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf.
They reached an opening in the middle of the city, where the houses were arranged at the edge in an oval. In the middle of the oval field there, a stone structure rose up. Made of the purest white in which millions of crystals were embedded, it almost hurt the eyes to look at it. Millions of sparkling lights came off the structure, as the crystals reflected the sunlight and made the building vibrant with allumination. There was an ancient feeling about this structure, though it was rather odd looking. It looked like an open cupped hand, the palm open and turned upward making up the front of the structure while the fingers, closed and rising in an arch upward behind it holding rooms. It was out of proportion though, the fingers much larger than would fit the palm of that size. Each finger rose high up in the air, with the middle one rising up twice as high as the others. Forteen figures stood regally in front of the palm and Myst heard Sabrena gasp the same time she herself let out a shocked breath. They looked like elves, but there was a distinct difference to them. Myst could not put her finger on it, but she felt it all the more. She knew from her reading that the Valar were not actual people and could take on whatever form they desired. They were powers. Masters of certain elements of Nature, each having dominion over one aspect. They choose to appear like elves whenever they interact with the Children of Eru, to make it easier to communicate. Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf stopped in front of the forteen Valar and curtsied and bowed in respect to the Powers of the World. Sabrena instantly followed their example, going deep through her knees in her curtsey. Myst just stood there, dumbfounded and feeling like mud covered pig in a crystal palace filled with gracefull beauty. She openly gawked at the Valar, who smiled at her as she stood out from the others by not bowing or curtseying. Those smiles warmed her from the inside out and her worries and doubts once again left her as though they never had existed. Hope flooded her being in such a strong turrent that it threatened to cast her down. She’d never had much hope in her life and was unaccustomed to feeling it, even in small portions. This was immense. Like the gates of heaven were opened and all the hope in creation was falling down on her at once. It was too much for the simple woman from Ghent and her knees buckled under her and she hit the ground, never feeling the impact with the soft grass. Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf had moved to the side, leaving her kneeling there in the middle of the oval field. They too smiled, as did all the elves that had followed them and stood silently around the oval opening, witnessing the event. Myst could not tear her eyes from the radiance of the Valar, though she tried. Her instincts kicked in, urging her to get away before she was caught. Urging her to not give in, before she was their puppet. All the troubles and doubts and worries she would have sworn never existed a few seconds ago, suddenly flooded her alongside the continuous stream of hope that poored in to her. She felt a heavy weight building up inside of her, pushing out, pushing against the beam of hope, against this intruder that threatened to overtake her. Her eyes were crying, though she didn’t realise it. Water streamed over heer cheeks and on to the ground below, absorbed by the grassy blanket. Her hands were pushing against her stomach, as if trying to hold herself together merely by pushing on the skin of her body. It was a futile attempt, of course. For no one could withstand the combined forces of those that had created the world itself and all that exists in it, safe for the elves and humans. And yet, there was another force at work. A dark force. A force that dwelled in all humans and even elves and corrupted the purity of creation itself. That force was not present here, of course, for it had been banned ions ago. But it’s influence was ever present in the Children of Eru. At times it manifested itself in one concentrated element, such as Shaitan or Sauron, but parts of the corruption was present in all. This to the design of Eru himself, who had taken the discorded song of Morgoth and made it part of the Song of Creation.
Manwë, Lord of the Valar, highest among them, stepped forward and raised
his hands in welcome.
“Welcome, Mystica. Welcome, Sabrena. Rest your worries and let your fears be gone, for no harm will fall upon you while you are here. Come, let us talk.” With that he turned, as did the other Valar, and walked the steps up in to the palm of the structure, crossing it and through the huge double doors that led inside the building. Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf watched her, remaining where they were. She shared a look with Sabrena and together they followed the Valar inside. Their three guides following in their wake. As they all entered, the doors closed of their own accord and Sabrena shook her head in answer to the unspoken question Myst had cast her with her eyes. It wasn’t Saidar that had closed the doors. They followed the Valar through a number of wide, beautiful corridors, the walls depicting all types of natural sceneries. From woodlands to mountains to the vastness of the seas and the airs, the images almost came alive on the walls as she looked at them. Beautiful birds were depicted, locked in flight, overhanging hordes of landbased animals, none of which seemed familiar to Mystica. Plants and trees and rock formations of supreme beauty formed the base of the story that was told in these walls. The story of life itself. Of creation, growth and then the gift of death. For to the Valar, death was a gift. Bestowed on humans by Eru himself, yet corrupted by Morgoth with fear and apprehension. Even knowing this now to be true, and not just part of a fancy fantasy tail, Myst still could not shake her fear fully. Knowing full well the utterly ridiculous notion of being afraid of the inevitable. They entered a vast chamber that was round in design, but clearly split up in to two parts. To the far side, opposit the door, stood a dias in a semi circle with majestic thrones evenly spaced from each other facing the doorway and the other half of the room. In the middle stood a smaller dias, which held no chair of any kind. The room had an ancient feel, like everything else in this city, but also eminated a sense of power, wisdom and solemnity that did not fail to awe Myst all over again. The walls here were bare of paintings, but they were even more ornate than those in the hallways. Sculptures of creation itself were depicted directly in to the stone, set with diamond like stones that sparkled as the building itself did on the outside. But these did not hurt the eye, or distracted from the events taking place in the chamber. They were designed to underline, not overwhelm.
Manwë waved a hand and a chair appeared on the dias in the middle of the room. Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf took Sabrena to take a seat on the audience chairs lining the remainder of the circular chamber. Myst stood, unsure what to do and made as to follow them, but a shake from Gandalf stopped her in her tracks.
“Please take a seat, Mystica.” Manwë said, his voice kind but powerful. She did not feel any pressure on her to obey, though. Climbing the three steps to the dias, she wondered what she had gotten herself in to.
“Manwë spoke truly, Mystica” the gorgeous woman to his right said suddenly. Her voice musical and soothing. “You need not worry yourself here, for no harm will fall upon you in any way while you are our guest.”
‘Uhuh,’ Myst thought, ‘You just don’t mention what will happen the moment you decide I’m not a guest any longer.’ She couldn’t help herself, trust was not something she could give easily and even if she did, there was always the expectation of being betrayed. She’d learned that much from her four decades.
“As you know,” Manwë continued, “You are brought here for a very special, and utterly important reason. Eru himself ordered you found and brought here, for within you may lay the salvation of all.”
Myst found herself frowning at the serious manner in which the Valar was speaking and the others were watching. It started to get on her nerves. She’d been told this before, several times. Did they think her memory that short that they needed to repeat themselves over and over again? Her foot started tapping the floor unconsciously. Manwë seemed to understand her irritation and continued.
“What you don’t know, as that part was not disclosed to the elves, is that Eru wants to meet with you. Talk with you. I am allowed at this point to explain the situation that lays before you, after which you may decide whether you wish to continue or return home.”
Sabrena had let out a gasp again at hearing that the Creator wanted to meet with Myst personally. That had never happened before, surely? Not even in other realities? Or had it? She steeled herself and focussed on what Manwë was saying.
“As you may have concluded by now, there are many different realities. Sometimes these realities are linked together, sometimes they are not. What you call alternate or portal stone realities are realities that are linked to one main reality and depict the various possibilities of all the possible choices that could have been made. The Earth you come from, Mystica is one such main reality. The world Sabrena comes from is another. Main realities are never linked to each other, for they could override each other and therefore undo the creation of both. Within each reality there is what you call a vast number of universes, each having a vast number of gallaxies and so on. Encompassing all of these is Existence.
(continued from 2010)
Myst listened as Manwë explained the endless pattern of Existence, some of which she was aware of. Like that there are millions of planets in each galaxy, millions of galaxies in each universe. But apparently, and what she didn’t know, there were also millions of universes in each reality and millions of realities in Existence. She struggled to grasp it all, despite being familiar with part of the concept. Sabrena struggled more even, for in her world the concept of other worlds was unheard of still. Portal Stone worlds, yes. But actual other worlds? Unlinked to her world? For Myst it was the idea of the many realities that was hard to understand. And yet, in an odd way, it also made sense to her. It had to be, if this all was real. How else would she have experience a trip to the WOT world, as she had nicknamed it?
“We,” Manwë continued, “never knew about the other realities, for Eru
has not seen fit to inform us. Until now. It would appear that the Valar were
once world dwellers like Elves and Men. Living on a world that was created through
the Song of other Valar we never knew existed. It was one of ours that defeated
the Enemy last time and as a reward, our people were lifted above all others
and made Valar. We were then taught the Song by Eru, given a reality that we
could shape in to our own design in harmony with the Song of Eru. Once the world
had been created through our Song, Eru blessed it with his new Children, who
then are left to grow until the time comes when they must face the Enemy in
turn. For the Enemy can not target the same world twice. Once a world defeats
him, that world is forever closed to him.” He stopped then looking at Mystica,
who regarded him with questions in her eyes, her mind racing through the information.
“Yes, there are many more Valar out there. Each Reality has a certain number
of them. But only the Valar of the world chosen by the Enemy for his next target
are informed of this. Until that time, theValar and all under their care are
left in ignorance. For knowing would influence the natural development of those
worlds, and more importantly, the natural growth of the Children of Eru on those
“The world of the Aes Sedai has had it’s dealings with the Enemy before, hence why they are being brought in to this.” Varda, the Queen of the Valar said in answer to Sabrena’s unspoken question. “No, not the one you call the Dark One. This was many ions ago, so long that even the oldest trees in your world would not remember them and the wind would not whisper of it.”
“Yes,” Manwë continued. “As have many worlds before that one and many since.”
The doors opened behind Mystica, admitting Elves carrying trays with crystal goblets, each filled with water and started to distribute them among the attendants in the chamber. Mystica followed their movement without quite registering it, her mind fully on what she just heard. She grabbed her goblet and drank the entire contents in one go, the cold water refreshing her and soothing her nerves. As she moved to replace it on the tray, she noticed the Elf was gone and before her a small table had appeared. She placed the goblet on the table, but snatched it up again. It was full again! She eyed the Valar and saw one of them smile with a twinkle in his eyes. ‘That must be Ulmo’ she thought. For he was known as the Lord of the Waters. She smiled back at him and drank again grateful for she was really thirsty all of a sudden. The water tasted fantastic. Like nothing she had ever drank before but she was sure no wine or champaign could have held a candle to it. When everyone had quenched their thirst, Manwë continued.
“You see, Mystica, Existence has been around much, much longer than any of us ever realised. To count it in human years would be impossible. The world you know as Earth lives in a reality that is but a babe compared to the many others out there. But that matters not the Choice of the Dark.” Myst’s head started to spin all over again. The Choice of the Dark? What was he on about?
“It may be best to explain first what the Enemy is, Husband.” Varda’s soft, warm voice rolled over the assembly and the smile she gave Manwë lit up the entire chamber. Myst was struck to her core from the visible love between the two and she could hear Sabrena shift on her seat behind her. Myst quickly stopped shifting herself, taking another sip from her miracle water that kept on replenishing itself in the cup, no matter how much she drank of it.
“Ah yes, of course.” Manwë replied with a gentle nod to his wife.
“The Enemy is not a person. It is neither a male or a female. The Enemy is a manifestation of dark energy, which comes from the Well of Darkness. You see, Existence is possible only through the harmony between the Light and Dark. Both energy forms are necessary for anything to exist. To say that all good things come from the Well of Light and all bad things come from the Well of Darkness would be too simple. For the concept of Good and Evil is mainly a Children made concept. In itself, the Well of Darkness is as useful and as necessary as the Well of Light.
“Hang on!” Myst burst out, sitting up straight, her face all indignant.
“How in the nine blazes of hell could the Dark ever be necessary?” She emphasized the word to make it clear how utterly ridiculous that sounded.
“When you cry, Mystica” Varda said soothingly, “is it always for negative things? When you feel sad, does that feeling always come from evil things? Is the night, with it’s dark and shadow filled dominion, by definition evil? Is every person that is angry automatically a minion of some evil lord or lady? Is the lion evil for eating the gazelle? Or the gazelle for destroying grassland?”
“Well, no” Myst replied, struggling again to grasp te concept. “But those are different. Those are natural occurances.”
“Where do you think the balance of Nature comes from?” Varda replied, smiling openly now.
Myst looked at the beautiful Valar woman and slowely she started to understand, though she was sure she only got a fraction of it and not sure at all whether she was right. But there was still something she couldn’t accept.
“If this Well of Darkness is responsible for the existance of this Enemy” she said, “Why then hasn’t Eru gotten that little mixup fixed a log time ago? I mean, it’s all nice and such to get a reward like you have when you succeed but it’s one major big gamble to make considering the price of failure. It doesn’t make sense that a being, even one as mighty as the Creator, would willingly accept the continued destructive threat to his or her own creations. If everything comes from Eru, then why not refine the process so the Enemy simply ceases to exist? Why have it so that countless worlds and people suffer so greatly only to be part of this turn-around game between the Creator and the Enemy? Why create the need of a balance with something to evil to begin with?!”
“All we know is that Eru has deemed it necessary” Manwë replied, a bit more severe in his tone than before. He clearly did not like this girl questioning Eru in any way. You just did not do that. Eru was Eru and his word was the Song. Mystica did not notice the Valar’s shift as she was too occupied with her own thoughts. Overwhelmed by what had been said and yet strangely it all made sense in some way. Indignant that the being calling himself the Creator would need evil to create. Didn’t that make him fallable? Limited? How could the Creator of all things be bound by any restrictions, let alone such a big one? That didn’t make sense to Myst at all. The Elves seemed perfectly content rolling along, in their endless stream of tranquillity and harmony. Why make Humans so vollatile, so fallable, so…. She stopped that line of thinking suddenly. The Elves were not infallable either, she remembered. They too had been subject to their own pride, their own want for power, they too sought dominion over others and went so far to commit murder amongst themselves for it. It was almost impossible to believe it, looking at the gracious figures floating around this place, sitting with a serenity Aes Sedai could only dream of, their eyes pools of wisdom and knowledge. Myst felt a sudden burst of resentment. They had left, the moment the prize was offered to them, they left the world to stroll about in this paradise while the Humans were left to their struggles and ignorance. Why didn’t they offer the wisdom of their experience? She knew she was being unreasonable, that the Humans would have revolted against the interference, bawlked at the confrontation with that level of perfection and that they would have tried to match it precisely as they have evolved, with ever more need for power and dominannce. For they, unlike the Elves, had never had the benefit of dwelling under the Valar and did not know any other life than the one out there in what used to be called Middle Earth. Her resentment then turned towards the Valar. Why hadn’t they given the Humans the same consideration as they had the Elves? Perhaps if the Humans had known the peace of Valinor, known the reality of the place, known the possibility of that harmony, things wouldn’t have come this far, maybe they wouldn’t have fallen so deep.
“When the Dwarves were created and put in their long slumber by Eru” Varda said in a conversational tone, without indication of knowing Myst’s line of thinking, “Eru decreed that his Second Children were not to be interfered with by the Valar. They were to be left to their devices, free to make whatever choices they would make and evolve in whatever way they would choose to evolve. Any assistance or guidance had to be done through a third party and restricted to ways that would be open to the Humans as well. Hence why we sent the Illuvatar, who could not use their magic to aid the Humans but could offer them council, guidance and support. The Elves too were allowed to take a deeper interest and participate in a more direct and practical manner, since they were on the same level as the Humans where Eru was concerned. And so the magic of the Elves lay open to the Humans and they used it to their own benefit.”
“All this is really confusing,” Myst said, drinking again from her ever-full goblet of water.
“Perhaps,” Manwë said, “Eru may give you better answers than the ones we can provide, Mystica. But know that you are not alone in this.”
‘Yeah, right’ Myst thought somberly, pessimisme taking a hold of her before she could squash it down. She stared in to her goblet for a long time, her mind wandering over everything she’d heard so far and none spoke to disturb her thinking. Eventually, she raised her head and took one long, deep breath.
“So now what?” She asked simply.
“Now,” Manwë replied, “We await the summons of Eru. In the meantime, you and Sabrena are offered the welcome of Valinor, where you can dwell in peace and freedom.”
Sabrena got to her feet at that and dropped a very deep curtsey before the Valar. “If I may ask, Light Ones” she said, “why am I here?”
Myst turned and looked at her. Light Ones? Where did she get that from? But it was a good question and she turned again to hear the Valar’s answer.
“Mystica will need the support of other worlds once she takes up the mantle of responsibility and it was decided that your world would be the first to be contacted. As the leading figure in your world, accepted by all above all, you are best placed to introduce Mystica and start the ripple that will move through the worlds she’ll need. In order to do that, it was important that you were made an observer of the events, so that you could speak truthfully and with knowledge. Yours will be the task of helping Mystica to gain the necessary authority to fullfill her mission. Humans have always needed their structure, their hierarchies, their layers of leadership and authorities. It will be your task to help establish that for Mystica on all the worlds she’ll need cooperation from. Should you choose to accept the task, that is.”
“Choose?” Sabrena said, her face now an unreadable mask of serenity.
“yes,” Manwë replied, “Choose. You too will be given the choice whether you wish to take on that role or not. If not, no harm will come of it and another will simply take your place. You are offered the chance first as your world was the one we used to gain access to Mystica and you succeeded in doing so.”
“I see.” Sabrena said and nothing more.
Egwene Al’Vere, Watcher of the Seals, Flame of Tar Valon, the Amyrlin Seat stood on her balcony overlooking the city below and beyond. Aviendha, Nynaeve and Elayne stood beside her. Inside, the accepteds on duty were setting the table for the Amyrlin’s dinner. All four women stared at the field beyond the Shining City. The work had progressed quite rapidly, and Egwene no longer shivered thinking on what was used to reach that speed. A new settlement rose on the field at astonishing rate. Ogier Builders strolled around, once more lending their craftsmanship to the Aes Sedai. No, she thought, not Aes Sedai. Ashaman. Men wielding the One Power. Once the fear of any that breathed, now a common feature. Even after all that happened, even now, it was strange to consider channeling men acceptable. Nynaeve had proven to the White Tower beyond a shadow of a doubt, the taint was gone and the madness that had taken hold of those unfortunate to have sparked before Rand had cleared Saidin from the taint was Healed. She marveled at the manner in which people showed their flexibility, going from mortal fear to total acceptance. She couldn’t make that jump, despite all evidence of the defeat of the Dark One. Perhaps there was bliss to be found in ignorance. Perhaps, the Aes Sedai knew too much to be totally comfortable with the concept of male channelers so quickly. But there was no denying it, they were there and they were there to stay. By her own decree, they were there. The Hall had balked at it, of course, thinking it beyond unwise to let these men establish a foothold of their own instead of being properly under the guidance and supervision of the White Tower. But Egwene knew this was the only way it could be. Rand had made sure of that. Blasted woolhead! She bit back the sadness that threatened to overtake her, as it always did thinking of her youth love. The man that grew to be the Dragon Reborn, destined to face the Dark One. Face him he had done. Face him and die. Aviendha stood tall and steady beside the Amyrlin, her belly protruding far in front of her. Heavy with the four babes that were steadily growing inside. She wore her pregnancy well, with little to no mood swings. Quite the opposit of what Elayne had been, if what she was told was true. The Queen of Andor stood to her other side, her gaze going back and forth over the vast expanse of the field that was once known as the Caralain Grass. Field wasn’t quite right to describe the huge landscape that stretched for many miles in either direction. The women all looked at the same spot at the same time. The spot where once the biggest mountain in the known world stood. The spot where now the Dragon Tower stood. A building raised by the Ogier, rising up to match and equal the White Tower in grandeur and splendor. It wasn’t white, the Dragon Tower, but neither was it black. Rand had done away with that when he cleaned out the Black Tower in Andor. By what power it had been achieved, Egwene did not know and the Ogier wouldn’t tell, but the Dragon Tower stood glistening in the sun, it’s walls a golden yellow that reflected the light in a myriad of colors. Even at night, the Dragon Tower could be seen for miles and miles. A fitting tomb for the one who had defeated the Dark One. Locked him back up in the prison made by the Creator at the time of creation. Undid the mistake once made by the Aes Sedai, who had born a hole in the Dark One’s prison and by doing so had released his evil on to the world. Female Aes Sedai, hungry for more power. Egwene still recoiled at the thought, but Rand had made the whole White Tower bend it’s neck to the truth of history and there was no denying it. Blame was to be laid by all of them, men and women alike. No longer would the women stand superior to the men based on past misdeeds. Neither would men stand above women, Rand had decreed. They were both equally to blame and both equally to be praised for the work, sacrifice and dedication in setting things right again. It was a hard pill to swallow for Egwene. Indeed it was a hard pill to swallow for any woman who had been born, raised and lived in a world that granted them a privileged position towards men. Nynaeve had brushed the whole thing aside in her usual manner, of course.
“They’ll still need us to know their front from their back” She had mocked as Egwene commented on the shifiting of the balance. But Egwene wasn’t so sure. The men already had started to test the boundaries of their new situation and they already showed more and more inclination to force their will on women by shere force alone. Where once a husband wouldn’t have dreamt of contradicting his wife in public, now that same husband was contemplating beating her in public to get his point across. No, Egwene thought, Rand didn’t think this through properly and now it’s up to us to prevent this from escalating. Fool man!
“What’s that?” Elayne asked, pointing towards the Dragon Tower.
Egwene followed her direction and felt one of her eybrows lift of its own
accord. A light had appeared atop the Tower and…
“What in the Light?!” Nynaeve exclaimed
The light grew ever brighter and bigger, growing in to a spherelike globe. It wasn’t Saidar, the women knew, but they couldn’t know if perhaps it was done with Saidin. None of the male channelers were in attendance with the Amyrlin at the time, so they couldn’t tell. The door to the Amyrlin’s study opened and the Keeper of the Chronicles entered, joining the women on the balcony.
“I see you’ve noticed it too, Mother.” The woman said, after offering a curtsey in greeting.
“Do you know what it is?” Egwene asked, her voice steady and calm.
“No, Mother. But I know it’s not done with either Saidar or Saidin. Jarim, one of the Green’s Ashaman Warders confirmed it.”
So not Saidin, Egwene thought. But what then?
“Look!” Nynaeve said, excitedly. Egwene gave the woman a quick glance, wishing she would at last adopt at least some of the Aes Sedai serenity that was one of their trademarks. She let it go, however, knowing it was no use with this one and focussed her attention back to the Dragon Tower. The globe was still expanding, now covering almost all of the Caralain Grass and half of Tar Valon.
“What should we do, Mother?” Elayne asked.
“Investigate.” Egwene said simply and turned to enter her study. The women followed, after casting another look at the globe.
Gandalf sat on the porch of his house in Valinor, puffing on his pipe, his hair all in a disaray around his aged wrinkled face. Sabrena was engaged in talks with one of the Elves but it was Mystica that he observed. The girl sat with her back against one of the great Trees, her eyes closed, yet Gandalf knew she was not sleeping. Long had it been since last he dwelled among the Humans and he had missed them. More than he once would have believed he would. His love had always lain with the Hobbits and their quaints, peaceful, nature loving ways. He loved the simplicity of Hobbits, their ability to enjoy life for life itself. How they could marvel at the miracle of a seed becoming a sapling and growing in to a grown up plant. How loving and caring they were with all that Nature bestowed upon them and yet how they readily took what was offered and claimed it for themselves. Yes, Hobbits had been Gandalf’s big love. But that was many millenia ago and since he had learned that his love for Humans ran deeper than he had realised. Despite their troublesome nature, their hunger for power and their seemingly endless capacity of making the wrong choices. Humans puzzled him and that made the difference. You could easily leave Hobbits, come back after thousands of years and find them exactly as you left them. Not so with Humans. It seemed to Gandalf the moment you dared blink they changed, did something unexpected or turned a direction no one even realised was there. It was in times of need that the best and the worst of Humans became apparent. That was the time they showed their true color, their true essence. And of all of Eru’s creations, Humans were the ones that came closest to the secret of Existance by their very nature. The Balance was ever present in them, ever shifting, ever rolling from one side to the other. In these, Eru’s Second Children, the Power of Existance was inbedded in to their very being. Without it, they wouldn’t be Human. As without the Balance, there would be no Existence. Many believed the Elves and Hobbits to have achieved that perfect balance of harmony with their surroundings, but those that claimed that or were in awe of it had yet to learn what it had taken Gandalf a long time to realise. Elves and Hobbits and even Dwarves, they were for the most part single sided creatures. Happiest and most content with the neverending rolling of life in the same manner, the same pace, the same direction, the same everything. That wasn’t balance, however. For to have balance there must be two opposit sides working against each other. To sides completely different from one another that each kept the other in its place. The Elves got corrupted at some point, working against their natural state and payed a very high price for it. No matter the rewards they gained they never felt complete in their long exile from Valinor, they never stopped lamenting their crime, they never stopped longing for the Sea, for the peace of the Valar. And they never hesitated when the offer came to return.
Humans were much more complex, for within each of them reigned a miniture version of the Wells of Light and Darkness. Eru had made it so, and so it was. Gandalf still wasn’t sure whether that was a blessing or a curse, and perhaps it was meant to be both. He took another puff from his pipe and watched Mystica open her eyes and look straight at him. She had known he was observing her, somehow. Will you be up to the task, little one? He thought musingly. Let’s hope so, for all our sakes.
Mystica had been aware of
someone observing her for some time but she didn’t want to face anything yet.
Her mind was still spining from all that she had heard and she had gone over
it time and time again. The Enemy. What a lame name for something so utterly
vile. To think it came in to being every fifty trillion million years. Grew
steadily towards maturity and then claimed its right to try to conquer one world.
What the hell was Eru thinking? Allowing a thing like that! She breathed in
through her nose and out through her mouth, trying to calm herself again though
that never quite worked with her. ‘Wax on, wax off, my foot!’ She muttered inwardly.
She got to her feet and walked over to where Gandalf was puffing away. Suppose
he doesn’t need to worry about scorched lungs or cancer, she thought, wishing
she had her cigarettes with her too. She pulled up her nose unwittingly as she
sat down beside him. She’d never really liked either pipe nor cigar smoke. Couldn’t
quite get why so many women found it pleasant, even when they were categorically
against smoking. Understand who can, she shrugged. Gandalf continued to puff
his pipe without speaking, not looking at her.
“What do you make of all this Mithrandir?” She asked.
“Does it matter what I think?” he asked in turn, tapping his pipe out on the stone beneath his foot.
“Don’t give me your typical wizard mystery response, Gandalf!” Myst exclaimed, glaring at the old man, who wasn’t really a man but liked to appear as such. “You’ve had much more time to think on it than I have and thinking is perhaps one of your favorite passtimes. Combines perfectly with the smoking of pipeweed, after all.” She said that last bit with a grin, wondering instantly if he was doing something to her to lift her mood up. What was it with her anyway? Here she was in the most beautiful place on Earth and all she did was worry, ponder and nag.
“Well,” Gandalf said after a moment, “it so happens that you’re right. I have thought on it.”
“And?” Myst prodded, as it looked like he was falling back to his silent musings.
“And nothing.” Gandalf said.
“Nothing?” Myst asked, eyebrows raised. “Gandalf, of all those here you are perhaps the one most suited to make some sense out of all of this for me. Don’t give me nothing. Sabrena is too caught up with those Elves to be of any use and when she does speak to me it’s all about how marvelous it all is. You’d think we’re here for afternoon tea, the way she’s carrying on! The Elves are no use either, for their way too solemn and too busy with the lamenting thing and the Valar haven’t shown themselves since our meeting. You’re all I have!”
Gandalf chuckled slightly and raised a hand to stop the woman from throwing another fit at him.
“Alright, Myst,” he said, “though I doubt you’ll like what I have to say.”
“What else is new?” She retorded sarcastically.
“Eru, in his …”
“Or her” Myst interrupted
“or her…” Gandalf conceeded, “wisdom has made it so that every so often people get a chance to face this Enemy and repell Darkness from their world once and for all. I should say that is something to be greatful for, don’t you think?”
“You could also say,” Myst replied, “that Eru, despite all of his or her wisdom wasn’t able to create Existance without needing to rely on Darkness for it. Honestly, Gandalf…. How much of a Creator is he (or she) that he nééds evil to create? That just doesn’t make any sense at all. If he’s the Creator of all that is, isn’t he also the creator of the Dark then? So then why not create only the Light and be done with this endless game of torment?”
“Those are good and yet dangerous questions” Gandalf said, lighting his pipe again after having refilled it with a fresh batch of dried leaves.
“Dangerous?” Myst asked, curious. “What could be more dangerous than having this Enemy thing knocking on our back door to pretty please be allowed in so it can destroy everything. Sorry, but asking questions doesn’t quite add up to that in my book.”
“One does not question the Creator, Mystica” Gandalf said, voice firm this time. Myst could feel the power flowing from him and it was all she could do to keep herself from shying away from him. Stubborness could be quite usefull when used properly.
“Well, Gandalf. I do. If I’m to be thrown in to this pit, I will question everything, including the Creator. I can understand Humans having to handle the Dark One as they did on Sabrena’s world. It was Humans who released him in the first place, after all. But this? Tell me, what exactly did we Humans do that would warrant us being used as fodder while the ones with the real Power all stay bundled up on their cosey little island and the one with all the Power sits and watches? Is that what our existance is for? The amusement and entertainment of the Valar and Eru? See how long it takes us to destroy ourselves and oh, bonus points if you also manage to destroy everything else!” Myst was past the point of caring what anyone thought and her voice carried wide an far. She was furious at the thought of innocent people once again paying the price for the sport of the high and mighty. Literally this time! Who the flaming ashes did these people think they were? She was on her feet, looking down at Gandalf, unaware of the Elves and the Valar approaching their position.
“Tell me, Illuvatar,” She demanded, “Why was the destruction of Sauron left to the most innocent of all beings? Where were the Valar, kinsmen of Sauron ànd Morgoth, when all the world was burning under his shadow? Where was Eru when his champion was destroying all and enslaving his Children? What have the Hobbits ever done to have deserved such a faith?!” By now she had noticed the others approaching, Sabrena staring at her openly, mouth hanging open. But Myst wasn’t done just yet. She rounded on Manwë and poked a finger at him accusingly.
“Where were you when the world needed you? When your creations were corrupted by the filth of he who was your brother? All of you couldn’t have stopped him? Couldn’t stop his servant!? And now, once again, it is not you that has to save the day, but instead Eru’s Children yet again have to rise to the occasion. Where the heck was he when all this happened? Creator of Existance. Knower of All. The Alpha and the Omega. Where. Was. He?”
One of the Valar stepped forward and raised both her hands. A wave of soothing rolled over Myst and she felt her resolve, her anger and her frustration being drained from her.
“No!” she demanded, pointing straight at the Valar. “You will not take my anger from me! You will answer me, for all those that have sacrificed all they had and all they were. For all those that suffered time and again while you sat and strolled around your paradise garden. For all those that struggle through life, desperately putting one foot in front of the other while you sit and drink your blessed water! You WILL answer me!”
The woman Valar recoiled from the outburst, clearly puzzled and shocked and the other Valar showed open signs of puzzlement as well. Myst did not know it, but when the Carress was laid upon any mortal, it should have been impossible for that mortal to resist it. It was at its most powerful here, at the home of the Valar, the center of their Power. And yet, Myst did resist it. More than that, she was aware of it. Another impossibility.
“And so I will” a voice behind her said softly, calmly and without a hint of a threat in it.
Just like that and all the Valar and Elves were on their knees, heads bowed all facing the same direction. Sabrena stood nailed to the floor, unable to move, her eyes almost popping out of her head. They were staring at something behind Myst.
Myst turned towards the voice and the next moment her knees hit the floor
as though her legs were suddenly cut off right below them. A thud behind her
announced the same thing had happened to Sabrena. Peace rolled over her, heavy
and light at the same time. Heavy with the weight of ions and light with the
promise of tomorrow. Her anger didn’t seep out of her, it was simply gone. Her
frustration forgotten as though it never had been. Love. Love as strong as a
thousand mountains, as deep as the endless space. She cried but didn’t feel
sad, started to shake but not from fear and then… disaster. The walls she had
built so carefully, so dutifully, so diligently for all those years exploded
and were gone. Bear lay her heart, her soul, her innocence. For all to see and
hurt, for all to trample on and break over and over again. A wail errupted from
her lips as she folded herself to the ground, trying desperately to hold on
to her defense against the cruelty of reality. The only defense she’d ever known.
It was gone. There was nothing to hold on to. Frantically she tried to rebuild,
but no sooner had she laid the first stone and it was gone again. Pain such
as she has never felt overpowered her. Eating her up from the inside out,
like millions of ants crawling under her skin, in her veins, devowering her
alive. She howled in pain and agony and fought against it frantically, knowing
she was lost but still she fought. Then the ants were gone and replaced by fire,
filling her up like a bucket, building upwards from her toes to her head, creeping
through her veins as a river of lava rising to the surface of the volcano. She
still screamed in the now deadly silent haven of the Valar. Her pain the only
sound, baren and raw, shared by all that heard. She died many times before the
fire reached the top and was replaced by ice so cold that it felt like a different
fire. It burned as it froze, turning every bit of her in to fragile, breakable
pieces that the smalles touch would shatter. It followed the same path as the
fire, but in reverse. Starting at her head and flowing down towards her toes.
Where was the welcome sleep that came with a frozen death? Where was the numbness
that was supposed to come? No sleep or numbness soothed her agony. No death
came to relieve her of the pain. Her mouth was still open, but no sound came
out anymore. Her voice completely gone, screamed horse and then mute. And then,
as sudden as it began, it was over. She collapsed on the floor and lay there,
as dead. Her eyes open, her mouth still open, her mind numb and not working.
“That is what I feel every time one of my Children is hurt in any way” the voice said softly. With the voice came Healing, a cool breeze wafted over Myst’s body and lifted her pain, her agony, her shock. It soothed her heart and her soul and warmed her from head to toe with the feeling of safety and security. She didn’t move, afraid the pain would start again. She cursed herself for being so weak and felt the shame of it but she couldn’t move. Sure the ants would return, the fire would flare up again the ice would come. A hand touched her on the forehead and her fear went away, gone as though it had never been. She blinked a few times and lifted her eyes up to stare in the face of the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. His eyes were dark pools of black liquid in the midst of which twirled a light of many colors. Mesmerized by the eyes, Myst lay there watching as the many colors danced around a hidden center and suddenly she recognised it. They looked like galaxies!
“Stand, my Children, I have no need for such displays.” The man took Myst’s hand and lifted her to her feet. Around her the Elves and Sabrena started to rise as well. The Valar, on the other hand, remained on their knees. “Are you not my Children too?” the man asked softly. “Have I not loved you since the day I created you? Rise, Valar and be at ease.” At that, they did rise, offering low bows and curtsies before standing erect.
“I am Eru” the man said, a bit redundantly. Yet Sabrena fell right back on her knees again, her face flat against the ground. Eru made as to go to her but Myst suddenly moved and was on her knees in front of the Amyrlin Seat. Taking her hands gently she pulled the woman to sit and smiled at her.
“I thought you were expecting him, Mother?” Myst said with a laugh in her voice. Where the heck that had come from, the Light only knew, but Myst suddenly felt a little misschievous. She didn’t feel any of the pain, the doubt, the fear she had felt only moments ago anymore and was fully herself again. Exept……. She frowned and tentatively tried to recall her anger. Oh yes, it was still there, ready for her to grab it. She wasn’t being Compulsed or anything, though she had no doubt that man could have her dancing to his tune with a snap of his pinky.