The Wheel of Time: The Trolloc Wars
Session August 14th, 2012 Chat Log
The new day dawns and you awaken. The night passed fairly uneventfully, save for the occasional far off explosion as the dreadlord’s armies threw yet another volley of fireballs at Tar Valon. All were countered well before they ever endangered the city, though it was hard to distinguish the explosions from the occasional rumble of thunder. Lightning strikes lit up the sky sporadically throughout the night, and it took a visit to your windows at some point to realize that the Shadow was still testing the Aes Sedai by bothering with an attack in the first place. In the end, the city was never in any real danger, but these probing attacks are a constant reminder that the Shadow is outside the city walls, and they haven’t given up yet.
The morning greets you with a steady pattering of rain outside. The clouds are so heavy in the sky that the sun seems to be having trouble rising this morning. It is an early hour, and most of Tar Valon still sleeps, though that is quickly changing as more and more people exit their homes and head to work despite the siege. Outside the Shining Walls, a sea of blackness spreads all around Tar Valon, on the opposite sides of the Erinin, intermixed with cookfires that burned all night long. Shadowspawn of all kinds are camped out there, predominately trollocs, though you know draghkar and myrddraal are there as well.
Telandria, today is the day. A day you’ve looked forward to for years, and it’s finally come. Today, you’ll be raised to full Aes Sedai. Though you will never admit it to anyone else, your stomach roils, just like the clouds above Tar Valon, and you feel nervous excitement pulse through you as you dress to head down to the basements for your testing. If you pass, you will be Aes Sedai.
You check yourself one more time in the mirror of your small room, adjusting your Accepted’s dress and hair to make sure you look presentable, then you head downstairs. You are too excited to eat breakfast, but you decide to eat something just in case. You were warned ahead of time that the test for the Shawl is difficult and long, and should you pass the test, you have to spend the next twenty four hours fasting in meditation. So, despite not being hungry, you err on the side of caution and stop in the kitchens anyway.
After a quick stop in the kitchen to grab a couple of pieces of fruit, you head down stairs, eating the fruit as you walk. Novices scurry about their morning chores, or heading off to early lessons. Some part of you is glad that you won’t have to deal with that nonsense anymore. You can remember a time when you had first arrived at the White Tower when you had looked up to the Accepted who were near raising and longed for the day when you too would finally be there. And here you are…spending your last moments as an Accepted. It’s is a good feeling and it lifts your mood considerably as you walk down the staircase that brings you to the lowest level of the White Tower basements.
Terah Esdeline, the Mistress of Novices, is waiting for you at the entrance to the testing room. She smiles at you as you approach.
“You come in ignorance, Telandria Aisalyn. How would you depart?” She asks, starting the ritual immediately. You had thought there would be a little preparation, some time for last minute instruction if it were needed, and find yourself a bit startled by the suddenness of it, but you respond as you’re supposed too, having learned all of this long before you ever left the White Tower, and having had it reinforced by Nevren over the course of the last month or so that you traveled with her.
“In knowledge of myself.” You respond, not missing a beat despite your surprise.
“For what reason have you been summoned here?” Terah asks, again, as part of the ritual.
“To be tried.” You answer.
“For what reason should you be tried?” She asks.
“So that I may learn whether I am worthy.” You respond again.
“For what would you be found worthy?” She asks finally.
“To wear the shawl.” You answer, ending the ritual of questions. The Mistress of Novices looks at you for a long moment, then nods to your clothing. You undress, symbolizing the trust you have that the Light will keep you safe, removing every shred of clothing, even your Great Serpent ring. You hand these things to the Mistress of Novices, which she places to the side, neatly folded, then leads you to the great doors to the testing room.
She opens the door and leads you inside where you see seven women gathered in a circle around a large, glittering oval ter’angreal. You know from your training that these seven women represent the seven Ajah’s, and they will be the ones administering the test. They pay no attention to you, instead focusing on channeling weaves of Saidar into the ter’angreal in front of you. It spins slowly in the center of the room, suspended in the air by some unknown force. The Amyrlin Seat is in attendance, though she stands in a far corner of the room watching as you enter.
The Mistress of Novices stops you when you’re a few feet away from the ter’angreal. “Remember what must be remembered.” She says, then says it three more times to complete the ritual. As she speaks, she works with Saidar, channeling a weave that she lays on you when the final word is spoken. Behind her, the oval ter’angreal begins to revolve faster, and the glittering mosaic of colors becomes more intense and sharper. In seconds, a white light bursts to life in the center of the oval, filling it, and drawing in the light from the rest of the room. Blinded, you take a step forward, then another. In moments, the light swallows you, and the testing begins…
You awake refreshed and dress. You feel awkward in this plain white dress, but it is what you were required to wear as a “novice” of the White Tower. Last night your name was entered into the Novice book, and today you are an official initiate of the White Tower. You’re not sure what to think of that. You have to be the oldest novice ever to wear the novice dress in the history of the White Tower. Shrugging at your reflection in the mirror, you turn and leave your tiny quarters and head down to the kitchens to eat breakfast.
You’re nervous, given what you’ve been told about the dangers of this ter’angreal that is used to raise Accepted, but you know you need to eat something too. So you do, filling a plate with eggs, toasted bread, ham, and some assorted nuts and fruit.
After you finish eating, you wait for Nevren to meet you outside the kitchen to lead you to the testing. You don’t know your way around the White Tower at all, which is something you intend to remedy after this testing nonsense is over with, but until then, you need an escort to get you around. The White Tower is huge, and you could easily get lost on your own.
Nevren meets you in the hall outside of the kitchen, just when she said she would, and she leads you below, into the basement. As you walk, she gives you final instructions about the testing ritual and what you can expect. The more she speaks, the more nervous you become. There is so much to remember. Then, as if nothing at all out of the ordinary were about to happen, she switches topics, telling you that Telandria is being tested as you speak, in the basement below. You wonder to yourself how she’s doing. And that’s when Nevren gives you one last piece of encouragement. “Telandria took the test you’re about to take, Sochaia, and she survived. You will too. Remember what the Mistress of Novice tells you, and return to us.”
With that, you reach the testing room. Nevren opens the door and leads you inside. Inside, three women sit around a ter’angreal made of silver with a circular bottom. Three archways rise from the circular bottom, spaced at even intervals around it. One of those archways is lit with a strange, fluctuating white light. The women around it are all holding Saidar, and appear to be maintaining weaves that operate the ter’angreal. A fourth woman stands at a table which holds three chalices. A fifth woman, a woman you haven’t met, but must be Terah Esdeline, the Mistress of Novices, approaches you and Nevren as you enter.
“I’ll take her from here, Nevren.” She says. Nevren nods her head and steps to the side, smiling at you as you nervously follow the Mistress of Novices further into the room. The woman next to the table steps forward and begins the ritual.
“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” She asks Terah.
“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.” the Mistress of Novices answers.
“Is she ready?” The Aes Sedai intones again, speaking as if from a script.
“She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.” Terah responds.
The woman she is speaking too gives a look for a moment that says she doesn’t approve of this, and that last sentence is a reminder of her differing opinion, yet she continues the ritual. “Does she know her fears?” She asks, now staring you straight in the eye. Somehow, the doubt this woman has in her own eyes drives you forward. You WILL complete this silly ritual no matter what that woman thinks, and you’ll prove her wrong.
“She has never faced them, but now is willing.” The Mistress of Novices responds.
“Then let her face what she fears.” The woman says. The tone of her voice suggests more, though you aren’t sure what. It sounded dark, and ominous. You turn your head to look for Nevren and see her standing to the side with her hands clasped in front of her, watching. She nods to you, and you turn back to begin undressing, just as you’ve been taught to do.
You finish undressing and the Mistress of Novices intones “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.”
With that you step forward and walk into the brilliant light of the ter’angreal. It washes over you, and then the world changes.
You step out of the ter’angreal, bone weary and tired beyond measure. The One Hundred weaves required to complete the test have drained you of any strength you have, and you drop to your knees. Visions still linger, haunting images of children being slaughtered by trollocs, of sisters being fed to trollocs, of villages burning and you unable to stay and help, of Tymire dying again at the hands of Laen the Tinker, and more. You saw so many things, so many HORRIBLE things, and you weren’t allowed to do anything to help once the shining star appeared to send you on to your next test. You wonder if the weariness you feel isn’t partly emotional weariness. Using the One Power certainly played its part, but the emotional stress of the testing was almost as hard on you.
You sit on your knees, weeping slightly and breathing hard, when you feel someone gently place a blanket around your shoulders. You look up to see the Amyrlin’s face. She smiles at you.
“You did well, Telandria.” She says quietly, for your ears alone.
Terah Esdeline is standing next to her, also smiling. “Yes, you did very well, Sister.”
She helps you stand, and the other seven sisters that were performing the testing stand too. The oval ter’angreal still hangs in the air, suspended by unseen bonds, but the spinning is slowing and the color display is slowing as well. The Mistress of Novices turns to the sisters that operated the test and instructs them.
“You will speak of what you saw here to no one. What happens during the test is for this woman alone to share, and only at her choosing…if she so chooses.” She says to the seven women, then turns back toward you. “Telandria Aisalyn, you have passed the test to become Aes Sedai. Return to your room and spend the rest of the day in quiet contemplation of what it means to be Aes Sedai. At this time on the morrow, you will return to us, and take your rightful place as one of us.”
With that, you are escorted out of the room and led to back to your room, where you do just as you were instructed. You spend the rest of the day alone in your room, contemplating the responsibility of what it means to be Aes Sedai.
You stumble out of the third archway, already crying at the horrors of “What will be”. The first test was bad enough. “What was”, was a life as a merchant, married to a rogue of a man that led you from one disastrous deal to the next, cheating on you multiple times, then finally leaving you stranded in Hai Caemlyn with eight children to feed on your own. Just when things seemed they couldn’t get any worse, trollocs attacked, overrunning the city, and you fled when you heard the words “The way will come but once…”, leaving your children to the mercies of shadowspawn. The memory of doing something so horrible still sickens you, but it was only the beginning.
“What is” left you in tears as well. Draelin Matrame died in the explosion that killed him here in the real world, but Ni’tareus also died, and you were captured. You were brought before Josine Feldramon, where you were imprisoned and were to be turned to the Shadow using the same trick used to convert Narna Evanter to the Shadow. Laen the Tinker, who was there when Draelin and Ni’tareus died, was responsible for your capture and took to claiming you as his own personal property. He did horrible things to you upon capture, but then left you alone just before you were to be turned. You escaped your cell and killed the women that had you shielded, using only your marriage knife and your experience dueling with them to do so, and then, as you stormed through the black marble hallways of a palace somewhere in the Blight, you sought out Laen, eager to kill him for all of the crimes he had committed…both against you and others. You never made it that far. The way will come but once, you remembered, and you jumped through the door just as you spotted Laen and knew you had him in your grasp. The missed opportunity to kill Laen, mixed with the memory of the horrible things he did to you, linger even now. But even that wasn’t the worst of it.
“What will be” was the worst. Betrayal. And so much of it. You were inside the walls of a mountain fort, somewhere in Aelgar, not far from your former home in Eharon, which had since been destroyed completely. Trolloc armies had burned, pillaged, and pushed their way across the Westlands until the remainder of the Compact of Ten Nations found themselves forced into hiding in this place, this last, desperate place, where they were on the brink of collapse. But you were an Aes Sedai…a very poweful one by this point…and you had Aes Sedai help. You could hold this resistance together if you had too. Old friends, old allies, were with you as well. Sandulf. Terith. Nevren. Tasalaya. And of course, Ni’tareus. They were all much older, and they had seen too much in their years, but they stood with you on the wall.
As the dreadlords had finally found the hiding place of what little resistance was left in the world, trollocs poured through the mountain passes, determined to crush the last of the Compact of Ten Nations. As you and Ni’tareus stood on the wall of the mountain fort watching trollocs rush through the passes and readying the rest of the forces arrayed there for one final stand, you were betrayed from within. Sandulf planted his axe in Ni’tareus’ back right in front of you. You screamed at the sudden pain of feeling Ni’tareus’ death, and just as you reached out to destroy Sandulf with the One Power, Nevren intervened and severed your weaves, then ordered your surrender. You heard Tasalaya scream as she was tossed bodily over the walls by Terith, who turned to face you, allying himself with Sandulf and Nevren. Behind you, Aes Sedai allies you had worked closely with for months had turned on one another and were killing each other in the courtyard below. The soldiers in the fort turned on one another as well, even as the trolloc threat loomed only miles away now. In the end, Nevren was too strong for you, and after she shielded you from the True Source, you were captured.
You faced execution in three days, and as you sat in a black, five foot by five foot cell in the same mountain fort you had lived in for the last few months, you realized you no longer cared. Tar Valon had been destroyed, as had most of the remaining nations. The Amyrlin Seat was dead and you were the next best thing to it, having been the one to lead the remaining Aes Sedai to this place over the course of the last several years. The effects of Ni’tareus’ death was overbearing, but almost as bad was the betrayal at the hands of your closest friends. Nevren had become your right hand man, so to speak, and Sandulf and Terith had become an honor guard of sorts. Beyond the betrayal and the death of your partner, Ni’tareus, the world had fallen. The lone remaining seal that you had carried with you all of these years was finally in the hands of the dreadlords and the Dark One would soon be freed. This wasn’t a world you wanted to live in any longer.
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): awww how come I can’t be a bad guy in her test!
sochaia (Sochaia Doisech): hhaha
Lanndon: Cause you were already dead :|
sochaia (Sochaia Doisech): so was nitey nite…
As you were marched toward your execution, entering a room where you were to be executed, a doorway made of pure light suddenly opened to the side of the room. Sandulf was in the room, holding that power wrought axe he had been given so many years before. His eyes were no longer yellow. Terith was there as well. Nevren, Josine Feldramon, Vandred Cazvalo, and Laen the Tinker were all in attendance, among others from both the Shadow and formerly of the Light, including other dreadlords and Aes Sedai you had counted as friends just a few days ago, all of them watching the trolloc guards roughly pull you into the room by your chains. You dropped to your knees in front of them, ready to be done with this nightmare of a life. “The way will come but once. Be steadfast.” You heard the words echo in your head.
Your chains were unlocked, and you were roughly pushed up onto a raised dais where your executioner waited. Nevren wouldn’t look you in the eye. Nor would Sandulf, or Terith. Laen the Tinker intoned in a monotonous drone “Sochaia Doisech, you and your rebellion are done. The Great Lord will be free in days, and the rest of the world trembles at our feet.” Then he leaned forward and whispered in your ear. “Please plead innocence, so I can have my fun with you before the others take your head.”
You acted quickly, slapping the man as hard as you could, sending him reeling backwards. No one in the room expected it, and you felt your shield drop. Nevren had been one of the women maintaining it, and for whatever reason…guilt?…she lashed out at the other women who also held your shield. You felt the shield drop and Saidar flood into you. “The way will come but once. Be steadfast.” The words in your head echoed again.
The world was destroyed. The Dark One would be free soon. But you wanted one last chance at retribution. You filled yourself with Saidar to the point of bursting, to the point of burning yourself out. To do so was the only way to keep them from shielding you again. You would unleash that torrent when it became too much to bear, most likely killing yourself in the process, but killing the others in this room as well. They all deserved it, even Nevren, who seemed to have had a change of heart. They would feel your pain…your rage, and then it would all end.
“The way will come but once. Be steadfast.” The words droned one more time. Just as you reached out to unleash the fury of Saidar on the surprised attendants in the room, you saw the door still shimmering to the side and you lunged for it.
Now, you lay on the floor, still naked, still weeping. Nevren is standing over you with a compassionate look in her eyes that says she’s been through the same thing and knows exactly how you feel. Terah Esdeline, the Mistress of Novices, drops a blanket over your nude form and then attempts to pick you up. You stumble wearily to your feet, and she leads you to the front of the room. Each time you successfully passed through an arch, a chalice of water was poured over your head by the woman attending the table you saw earlier. This time, you stand in front of the Amyrlin. Arrayed behind her are seven women, one from each Ajah. She raises the chalice as you take a knee in front of her, and then she pours it on your head.
“You are washed clean of Sochaia Doisech of Eharon. You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul. You are Sochaia Doisech, Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us now.” The Amyrlin says as she drains the last of the chalice over your head.
“Welcome, Daughter.” she says as she raises you to your feet. She kisses you on the cheek to end the ceremony.
You stand. Your clothing is given back to you, but the plain white dress of a novice has been replaced with the white banded dress of the Accepted. In addition, there is a Great Serpent ring included in your possessions, and Nevren takes the ring and places it on your left hand. She smiles at you as she does so. “You did well, Sochaia. Tomorrow, we’ll see you raised to full Aes Sedai.”
With that, you are released and sent back to your room.
The rest of the day passes, while both of you recover.
You awaken the next morning and get dressed. You’ve spent your 24 hours in contemplation and now the time has come to be raised fully. Sure enough, as expected, a knock comes at your door and you answer it.
Tasalaya is standing at the door, with six other women arrayed to either side of her. “Telandria Aisalyn, you are summoned to the testing room below by the Hall of the Tower and they Amyrlin Seat. Will you come?”
You nod your head at her and she leads you away from the room with the other six women surrounding you on either side. She takes you down to the basements, and back to the very room where you were tested yesterday. Inside, the Amyrlin Seat sits with the testing ter’angreal between you and her. The ter’angreal is not active now, yet you know you will have to pass through it to reach the Amyrlin to complete the ritual. The Keeper of the Chronicles and three sitters from each Ajah are also present. As you step forward, the Amyrlin begins the ritual.
“Who comes here?” Rashima Kerenmosa asks, staring straight into your soul.
“Telandria Aisalyn.” You reply calmly.
“For what reason do you come?” She asks again.
“To swear the Oath and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.” You answer.
“By what right do you claim this burden?” She asks once again.
“By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the White Tower.” You answer.
“Then enter, if you dare, and bind yourself to the White Tower.” The Amyrlin says, standing from her chair to receive you. You cross the room and walk through the ter’angreal that gave you so much trouble yesterday and then kneel in front of the Amyrlin. Callah Besharn, the Keeper of the Chronicles, hands the Amyrlin a smooth, polished white rod, about the width of your wrist and perhaps a foot long. The Amyrlin then hands it to you in turn, and you hold it with both hands.
“Channel spirit into the Oath rod and swear your oath, Telandria.” The Amyrlin says. You do so, channeling a weave of spirit into the rod while you make the vow to make no weapon with which one man may kill another. As you finish speaking the oath, you feel a strange, slightly painful sensation lay across your skin, as if something is tightening your flesh. In moments the sensation lessens.
Rashima gives you a moment to let the effects of the Oath Rod lessen, then speaks in a musical chime. “You have taken the oath required of all sisters. You are now one of us. Choose your Ajah, Telandria Aisalyn.”
Telandria Aisalyn: I have choosen the Green Ajah
Rashima Kerenmosa smiles at Telandria
Rashima Kerenmosa: She has chosen the Green Ajah. You are are now Telandria Aisalyn, of the Battle Ajah. Let the entire White Tower know her choice.
The Keeper of the Chronicles makes a note in her book.
The Amyrlin seat, the Keeper of the Chronicles, and the other sisters not of your newly chosen Ajah leave the room, leaving you with the sitters of your new Ajah. After a brief time making small talk, the sitters of the Green Ajah welcome you formally, then escort you upstairs to the Green Ajah headquarters. Here, every woman of the Green not deployed outside of Tar Valon or patrolling the walls in its defense, stand in attendance to welcome you into the Ajah. Finally, you’re shown to your quarters and given your privacy.
You did it. You are now a full Aes Sedai.
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): boyah baby! party in the warders training ground!
After Telandria is raised, you are summoned below for your own testing. You passed Telandria on your way down, being escorted by three women of the Green Ajah. She herself was wearing a newly crafted shawl of green as well. The two of you gave only the briefest hint that you knew each other, a tiny nod given by one and returned by the other as you passed.
And then it was on to your testing. The process is much as Telandria’s was, with the same rituals being spoken. You were taught well by Nevren, and you pass through the ritual without hesitation. And then you enter the testing ter’angreal, and the true test began.
Several hours later, you drop from exhaustion as you exit the ter’angreal. It was horrible. Not as horrible as the test for Accepted, but still horrible. You feel like a coward, leaving people to their own fate and running for the six pointed star everytime it appeared, even though you could have stayed and helped them a little bit longer. But that was not to be. Somewhere in the back of your mind you knew you had to leave, and you did. One hundred tiny tests later, here you sit.
You are sent to your room to spend the evening in quiet meditation, and the next morning you are summoned. This ritual is exactly the same as Telandria’s was, and it ends with you rising to take the Oath. You swear the words, weaving spirit as you do, and you feel the oath settle into your skin, tightening it to the point of pain, before relinquishing.
Rashima Kerenmosa: You have taken the oath required of all sisters. You are now one of us.
Rashima Kerenmosa lowers her voice to a whisper, losing the formality
Rashima Kerenmosa: I want to remind you that you were raised under special circumstances. Always try to follow what Nevren Quista taught you, and do what is in the best interests of the White Tower. Represent us well, and prove Nevren and myself right in choosing to raise you as quickly as we did.
Sochaia Doisech: Yes, Mother.
Sochaia Doisech: whispered
Rashima Kerenmosa nods to Sochaia, then raises her voice once again.
Rashima Kerenmosa: You are now full Aes Sedai. Choose your Ajah, Sochaia Doisech.
Sochaia Doisech: The Battle Ajah calls to me. I choose Green.
Rashima Kerenmosa nods and smiles at Sochaia
The Keeper of the Chronicles makes a note in her book. She does so with a slight grunt.
Just as Telandria experienced, the rest of the women, including the Amyrlin and her Keeper, leave, leaving you alone with the sisters of your new Ajah. They escort you upstairs where you are welcomed by all, then show you to your new apartments and leave you to quietly rest and recover. It has been an emotional couple of days.
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): yeah some sisters are a bit old fashion
Telandria is out in the hallway when you are brought into the Green Ajah quarters.
Lanndon: Some, yes.
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): you’ll just have win them over stacy
Lanndon: Or brow beat them into submission. That’s what a true Aes Sedai would do.
Sochaia Doisech: can’t brow beat an aes sedai
Telandria Aisalyn: Welcoome sister
sochaia (Sochaia Doisech): ooc
Sochaia Doisech nods to Telandria.
Lanndon: Of course you can. There are multiple examples in the books ;)
Lanndon: And that’s it for the two of you, unless you have other things you want to do. If not, you guys can log off.
Telandria Aisalyn: Once you have settle in let me be the first to show you around Tar Valon.. a true sister should know her new home
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): we can end it like that.. me showing her around so she doesn’t get lost
Sochaia Doisech: Thank you, Telandria.
Sochaia Doisech drops her voice, "Do I have to call you TElandria SEdai?
Lanndon: Alright, that sounds good. You’ll need to give me til next week to come up with an interesting new NPC warder for you if that’s the route you’re going.
Telandria Aisalyn giggle
Telandria Aisalyn: whispers no
Telandria (Telandria Aisalyn): I"m Bitch Sedai to you!
Sochaia Doisech smiles slyly. “Alright then.”
sochaia (Sochaia Doisech): I’ll see you all next week. Thanks for the pretty shawl, Lanndon!
Lanndon: Sure thing. :)
It is about two hours after sunset. You stand on the upper island balcony on the sixteenth floor looking over the city of Tar Valon. Up this high, a steady breeze blows across the island connecting the two towers of The Ivory Guardians Inn. It is a cool breeze, being early Spring, but it feels good. Of course, the clouds in the sky threaten rain at any moment and being this early into Spring, there’s no promise that rain won’t turn into snow. And you’ve had your fill of snow.
The city is dark, except for the lights of the city….and the fires burning beyond the island, where thousands upon thousands of trollocs are encamped. As you stare out at the landscape, trying to imagine what the Shadow has in mind for Tar Valon, you can just manage to see a trolloc trebuchet being ratcheted back for another feeble attempt to get a burning ball of fire past Aes Sedai defenses. Sure enough, the trebuchet slings forward and the ball of fire races toward the city, only to suddenly extinguish and explode before it has traveled halfway across the Erinin. The Aes Sedai patrols are extremely effective. You wonder how the Shadow managed to get even one in…and one that managed to hit the White Tower itself…with such defenses at work. On the other side of the Erinin, the west side, you see another ball of fire hurl toward the city and explode prematurely before it is anything resembling a threat, only moments after the first one. This has been the pattern since you arrived. The Shadow constantly hurls these flaming balls of fire at the city, and the Aes Sedai destroy them before they can do any damage.
Shaking your head at the futility of it, you head back inside and climb the two stories worth of stairs to arrive back at your room on the eighteenth floor. Still thinking of the Shadow and their feeble attempts to attack Tar Valon, you remember back to the assault on Bordefort Ovaesa and Al’Cair’Rahienallen. Now that was a display of fireworks. The Shadow gave everything they had, and what few Aes Sedai there were on the walls of the Betharn Line had their hands full trying to push back the rushing swarm of trollocs attempting to breach the walls. They had no chance to counter those balls of fire. Part of you wonders why Vandred’s armies aren’t as…intense…as those that were led by Josine Feldramon back in Almoren. You can think of several reasons why you aren’t seeing the same display of power here, foremost among those is the natural defense the river Erinin creates and the far larger number of Aes Sedai here. The Erinin is a vast, moving body of water, and shadowspawn of all kinds are afraid to cross moving water, for whatever reason. This leaves the Aes Sedai defenders in Tar Valon free to watch the skies, and the Shadow knows this. Perhaps for this reason alone, Vandred doesn’t see the reason to bombard the city as utterly and completely as his counterpart in Almoren did with Ovaesa and Al’Cair’Rahienallen. Then again, Josine Feldramon is well known to be the finest general in the Shadow’s army, but Vandred is regarded as a fine tactician himself, so it’s not as if he couldn’t create the same firestorm you’ve witnessed in the past if he really wanted too. Something holds him back.
But why does he probe? Is he hoping for darkfriend help from within the city? Surely by now he understands that so long as Aes Sedai patrol the walls and streets of the city that none of those balls of fire are going to get through again. There must be something more here. But you’re tired, and you don’t consider yourself much of a tactician anyway, so you decide its better if you don’t waste any more time worrying about it.
You enter your room and ready yourself for bed. You feel safe in Tar Valon, but at the same time, you don’t. Something doesn’t feel right. Nevren said you and the others were free to leave…so why don’t you? Why stay here? You’re business with Telandria and the other Aes Sedai is finished. You could find a river ship and buy passage away. Get yourself back into the fight out there, instead of staying locked up behind the safe, Shining Walls of Tar Valon. You want to leave, but where? And why would you actually want to forsake the safety you haven’t known since before this odyssey began? The world is at war once again, and already one nation has fallen. If the rumors are true, Coremanda stands on her last legs, and Essenia, which is south of Almoren, is surely in line for an assault by Josine Feldramon once she finishes mopping up Almoren. Eharon is just as likely to be hit after Coremanda falls. Whoever leads the assault there is surely aiming south after they finish off the Coremandans. Aelgar, Safer, and what’s left of Jaramide aren’t faring much better.
For whatever reason, you’re stuck here for the time being. As you lay down in your bed and wrap your blankets around you, you decide to sleep on it and figure out where to go in the morning. Then an idea occurs to you. What about that place you visited once before? You don’t even remember how you wound up there, but you met Cloud Runner there, the first wolf you ever made contact with. You also encountered Anagash the Hunter there, though his form was quite different from the one you found in the waking world. And he’s dead now, so there’s no chance you’ll encounter him again. Perhaps if you visited that place, you could look around and get an idea of what the world faces. Perhaps you could find a place where you are needed. The Aes Sedai you followed are surely done with you.
You close your eyes and will yourself into the Wolf Dream. When you open your eyes, you’re standing in Al’Cair’Rahienallen. Or what used to be Al’Cair’Rahienallen.
The city has been completely destroyed. Oh the framework of most of the buildings still stands, but only on a side or two, and only here and there. Roofs are collapsed. Windows completely blown out so that only framented shards of glass remain in the holes where the windows had once been. Rubble is strewn everywhere. The walls of the once mighty city are broken and gaping holes have been ripped through them in multiple places.
Here, in this place…this Wolf Dream…it is always sunny. And despite being a mirror image of the real world, things change constantly. Sometimes, out of the corner of your eye, you see a filtering of smoke streamer up from a pile of rubble, only to disappear when you turn your head and focus on it. Other times you see small fires flicker, then disappear. It’s almost as if the city is still burning, nearly two weeks after the night of the attack. Perhaps it took that long for the city to fall? You don’t think so, given what you knew about how few defenders there were and the suddenness of the assault. But given the peaks you’re given of smoke and fire, you get the sense that fight wasn’t over in one night.
You’re sure it is over now though. The city is completely destroyed. Only skeletons of the framework of the Ogier made buildings still stand. You think of Alloria for a brief second, then try to push that thought away. Surely she and her grandparents escaped. You paid that gatekeeper good coin to get word to her well before the Shadow arrived. He would have went, or sent someone to warn her and her family. She was from a well-to-do family. They could have afforded a boat to get away.
Then again, a hundred other things could have happened, and she and her family didn’t make it out. You push those thoughts away and try to focus on something else. You’re here for a purpose, and worrying about what may or may not have happened to that sweet little girl isn’t going to help. Just as you begin to wonder how you’re going to walk hundreds of miles to begin your search for the next place you’re needed, you smell something.
Sandulf Machera shifts his head to the side …. searching
You turn your head and see a white wolf skulking through the ashes of Al’Cair’Rahienallen. It is watching you, and as soon as you make eye contact, you know who you’re seeing. Cloud Runner. Your old friend.
Cloud Runner: The world burns, Savage Paw, yet you live.
Cloud Runner sends
Sandulf Machera: Traveled swiftly on the water.
Sandulf Machera sends with images of trollocs on his tail
Cloud Runner cocks his head, then takes a seat on his back haunches.
Cloud Runner sends an image of understanding, then sends images of his own dealings with the Twisted Ones.
He has changed since you saw him last. Pink flesh covers the back half of his body, right down to his tail, the product of being burned badly at some point. The fur has yet to grow back back there.
Sandulf Machera growls when he notices the scars
And then there’s the new scar on the grizzled wolf’s face. This one made by a weapon of some sort. It is a clean slash that spans from his nose to the far end of the left side of his mouth. Some of the flesh there is missing as a result of the wound, and it gives the effect of a permanent snarl. Cloud Runner is now even more grizzled then the last time you remembered seeing him.
The scar is still red, but appears to be healing. It is a fresh wound.
Cloud Runner notices your growl, but shrugs it off. Wolves do not worry over what cannot be mended, he sends.
Cloud Runner sends again.
Cloud Runner: What are you doing here, Savage Paw? The Wolf Dream is dangerous for untrained pups.
Sandulf Machera: must learn about here and outside the wolf dream
Sandulf Machera: can’t learn by standing still
Sandulf Machera sends
Cloud Runner smells satisfied.
Cloud Runner: Good. You want to learn. But why here? Why this place? This place of the Two Feets is destroyed.
You shrug…then scan the torn landscape. You think to yourself “I just want to go where I’m needed”, but you don’t send that to Cloud Runner.
Sandulf Machera: don’t know how i came here, I was thinking of it and Alloria as I went to sleep
Sandulf Machera sends image of the girl he asked them to help
Cloud Runner: The she-pup?
Sandulf Machera nods
Cloud Runner sends an image that comes across almost as a shrug.
Cloud Runner: I do not know if she lives. I am sorry for your loss, Savage Paw. I have lost pups too.
You can smell sadness radiate from the wolf.
Cloud Runner: You do not sleep near this place, do you? Even in the waking world, this place is dangerous.
Sandulf Machera: no I sleep in the tower of the shes who call the wind
Sandulf Machera sends image of white tower
Cloud Runner again sends images of not knowing…almost a shrug, if given by a human.
Sandulf Machera: far run
Cloud Runner: I do not know this place. We avoid the She’s Who Call the Wind and He’s Who Call the Lightnings. But if you are elsewhere, again, why here? Was this your den? Why do you come here if your den has been destroyed?
Sandulf Machera: why is it still dangerous here? twisted ones still here?
Cloud Runner cocks his head curiously at Sandulf
Cloud Runner: Yes. They are still here, in the waking world. But not in the Wolf Dream.
Sandulf Machera: my den moves, I go where i am needed
Cloud Runner raises his head slightly to stare at you as he sends. “Need is a very powerful emotion here in the Dream, Savage Paw. You shouldn’t come here for that purpose. Unless you must.” The wolf sends. You smell caution in his sendings.
Sandulf Machera sends image of helping and protecting others
Cloud Runner sends fresh images
Cloud Runner: Helping your pack is admirable, but not here. Here it is too dangerous for you to use need. Untrained pups shouldn’t play in the Wolf Dream until they are prepared for what they might find. Come.
Cloud Runner sends images of a young wolf sticking his snout in a nest of hornets because he doesn’t know better.
Sandulf Machera: so teach me
Cloud Runner: I think I know what you need. I will show you.
Sandulf Machera sends image of cloud runner stopping the pup before he puts his nose in the nest
Cloud Runner cocks his head again, curiously.
Cloud Runner understands.
Cloud Runner: I will teach you. Come.
He disappears in a flash, and you are left standing alone amid the ruins of Al’Cair’Rahienallen. You look around you, shocked at seeing Cloud Runner disappear instantly as he did. A few moments later, Cloud Runner returns, sending confused images into your mind that translate into “Why do you not follow?”
“I don’t know how.” You respond. The wolf stares at you with an intensity in his eyes.
Cloud Runner: As much as you fight like a wolf, you are not. I am unused to teaching.
Cloud Runner sits for a moment, considering. Finally he rises again.
Cloud Runner: You know my scent. Follow my scent.
You shake your head, not really understanding how you’re supposed to pull that off, but Cloud Runner simply sends “Try.”
Cloud Runner: To master this place, you must be stronger than this place. You must make this place what you want it to be. Will it to be what you wish it to be, and it will be. Do you understand? If your will is strong enough, you can dominate the Wolf Dream. Now, follow.
With that, he is gone in an instant. You close your eyes and try to pick up his scent. At first, you sense nothing, but the longer you concentrate on it, the more you think you can sense it. To the North. Cloud Runner’s scent is faint, almost indistiguishable, and heavily mixed with the stench of something foul. Wherever he is, you have a feeling you aren’t going to like it. You begin to wish you were wherever Cloud Runner is, and nothing happens. You wish for it more fervently than before. Nothing. Cloud Runner said if your will was strong enough, you could do anything.
Sandulf Machera: Wolf Dream [1d20+15 = 21]
Concentrating hard, you WILL yourself away, and find yourself standing inside of a pitch black corridor made of black marble striated with some sort of gray rock. Cloud Runner stands in the hallway, hackles on edge. He turns his head from staring down the hall to look at you.
“Good. You learn. Come.” And with that, he trots forward, down the black marble hallway. You follow him.
Wherever you are, it is hot. You haven’t felt this sort of heat in many months. And the air is stale with a mugginess you have never encountered before. As you trot down the hallway, following Cloud Runner, you glance out of a window. Just outside of the window, a vast mountain peak rises high into the air, almost as high as Dragonmount itself does. However, where Dragonmount is tall, this mountain peak is wider by far. The rock of the mountain is black, and just below it, you can see what might be some sort of primitive village spread out across the base. The mountain dominates your vision, and something deep inside you is filled with dread when you stare at it.
“Where are we?” You ask Cloud Runner.
“Near Heartfang’s lair.” He answers without stopping.
Heartfang. The wolf name for the Dark One. That mountain is Shayol Ghul, you’re sure. Suddenly you aren’t so sure Cloud Runner understood you correctly. You said you were looking to find a place where you were needed. This is NOT that place, and no matter what, you aren’t the Dragon Reborn and you aren’t equipped to face the evil that resides inside that mountain.
“This isn’t where I need to be, Cloud Runner.” You send.
“Perhaps not, Savage Paw. But if you had tried to use that emotion to find your way in the Wolf Dream, it may have taken you here. And without training…or protection…you are dead here. It is better that I lead you. Come. You will see soon enough.” He responds without stopping. You notice the hackles on the back of his neck are still raised, and you can smell his caution and wariness. Cloud Runner doesn’t like being here anymore than you do.
You follow Cloud Runner for several minutes, twisting in and out of one hallway and into others. As you do, occasionally doors open and close, and curtains over the windows sometimes flutter as if at a breeze, though they are always standing still whenever you lock your eyes on them. Every time you pass an open window, you can’t help but stare outside at the massive black mountain called Shayol Ghul. The Dark One himself is said to be imprisoned there, along with the thirteen Forsaken. The thought sends a chill across your spine.
Finally, Cloud Runner enters a vast antechamber, you right on his heels. There are two massive, black wooden doors that guard the entrance to this room, but they swing wide open and Cloud Runner approaches, as if he simply willed them open and they obeyed. This antechamber, despite the grim blackness of the marble floors and walls, is decorated in tapestries and paintings. There is fine furniture set about the corners of the room as well. Tables, chairs, bookcases, etc. There is also a massive black fireplace, which is unlit. Above you, you realize the room is domed and clear glass panes open up into one of the strangest sights you’ve ever been witness too. The sky above the dome is no longer blue, streaked with white clouds. No…you have no idea how it could be, but the sky above this room is red, striated by black clouds that streaks overhead quickly and violently. It is so unnatural that you look away, vowing not to look back up so long as you’re here.
Cloud Runner stops in the center of the room, where a black marble table sits alone. Hovering and rotating ever so slowly above the table, spaced at neat, even intervals, are four discs, each one painted to look just like the seal you escorted away from Mora’s Eye. No…they ARE the seals.
With alarm, you realize that four of the seven seals keeping the Dark One in his prison are collected here, not five miles from the base of Shayol Ghul. Cloud Runner senses your alarm and stares at the seals as well.
“Those stones smell of darkness…sadness…anger…violence.” He sends. “They are special stones?”
You nod your head, trying to figure out a way to explain what they do and how they keep Heartfang at bay. Cloud Runner doesn’t understand fully, but he knows they mean something to the Dark One, and for that reason, the Dark One can’t be allowed to keep them.
You agree, and move to grab them, unsure if you can even remove them from the Wolf Dream and take them back into the real world, but you are rebuffed. As you stick your hand in to try to grab the first seal, your hand hits something unseen, a barrier of some sort about six inches outside of the rotating seal, that prevents you from grabbing a hold of it. The seal is undisturbed, and continues to hover and rotate slowly from its place about six inches above the black marble table.
You hear something behind you just as you smell it. A familiar scent, and unfriendly. Spinning and suddenly willing an axe into your hands, you turn to find…no, it can’t be. Anagash is here, though he is in the other form you met him in once before when you found yourself in the Wolf Dream.
His eyeless face stares at you. You remember that face all too well. Everything seemed human about it except for the flesh covering the places where his eyes should have been. He had dark brown hair that was long and parted down the middle, and curled slightly. He had a strong, broad chin. And though the eye sockets remind you of a myrddraal, the flesh of his skin is a pinkish brown, like that of a human.
Anagash the Hunter: You…
Anagash the Hunter rasps in a voice that sounds like dry leaves crinkling underfoot.
Anagash the Hunter: The one that killed my…other half….
Cloud Runner growls
You are shocked. You thought you killed them both when you killed the Anagash in the real world. Is this his soul? Could you be so close to the Lord of the Grave’s prison that this is where the souls of his servants are collected when they die?
Cloud Runner growls. A low, throaty growl. Anagash looks at the wolf, then dismisses him. His attention remains focused on you. Sendings flood your mind. “Run. You are not ready to face this one.”
It is up to you how you want to face Anagash here. You are relatively untrained in the Wolf Dream, but you have an ally. If you wish, you can awaken now and avoid a fight altogether. Make your decision.
Sandulf Machera wills himself to where I first met cloud runner
Sandulf Machera: Wolf Dream [1d20+15 = 32]
You will yourself away, reappearing in Al’Cair’Rahienallen. Moments later, Cloud Runner appears at your side.
Cloud Runner: That one is dangerous. He may follow us. He is strong in the Wolf Dream.
Cloud Runner sniffs the air, testing for Anagash’s presence.
Sandulf Machera tries to will his scent to elswhere
Sandulf Machera: Wolf Dream [1d20+15 = 30]
You try to will your trail away, unsure of whether or not it worked. Cloud Runner paces slowly around you, still testing the air, hackles on the back of his neck still up. He is wary.
Cloud Runner: I do not like this. You should wake. Return in three days and we’ll train. But now you know your need. I led you there, not knowing what it was. The danger…
Anagash the Hunter: You cannot hide from me, wretch.
Sandulf Machera sends to cloud runner
Anagash rises from a pile of rubble, looking down at where you and Cloud Runner stand in the destroyed thoroughfare of Al’Cair’Rahienallen.
Sandulf Machera: I will move elsewhere then wake … you go somewhere else … he will follow me
Sandulf Machera sends images of wolves going different directions and panther only following one.
Cloud Runner: I will not wake until you do. To do so will mean your death. He will trap you here without training.
Sandulf Machera: Sandulf Machera tries to will his scent to elswhere
Sandulf Machera: Wolf Dream [1d20+15 = 35]
Cloud Runner sends a hesitant agreement, wishing you luck, then he disappears. Anagash stands on the hill, walking forward with a black Ashandarei appearing in his hands. As he does so, you disappear, willing yourself into the woods around the dead city of Manetheren.
You stand now on a slope in the Mountains of Mist. You look over the ruined remains of what was once Manetheren, the capital of your ancient homeland. It’s been destroyed for over a century now, and nature is reclaiming the ruins already, with weeds sprouting over what little remained from Queen Eldrene’s blast of the One Power. You attempt to will yourself out of the Wolf Dream and back into your body. Make a check, DC 20 to wake up.
Sandulf Machera: Wolf Dream [1d20+15 = 24]
Cloud Runner: Wolf Dream 24
You snap awake, back in your bed at the Ivory Guardian.
Sandulf Machera awakens and prepares a letter to send a note to Nevren Aes Sedai