Prologue: Sparks Falling

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PROLOGUE: Sparks Falling

- Tar Valon [camera descends from Dragonmouth and enters the Amyrlin's study]

Elaida and her council are discussing events. The Aes Sedai in the Council talk, without ever looking at Elaida, Alviarin as much as presides.

- The Borderlands are getting increasingly troublesome, the fighting reported previously hasn't subsided - if any, it seems to be growing. Mazrim Taim and Davram Bashere's whereabouts are still unknown. They agree to send a strong red to settle them down, and to write official letters to Tenobia, demanding to know about Bashere and his cavalry. Elaida scowls.

- There are strange news from Tarabon - apparently the Panarch has vanished, and there's word that Aes Sedai were involved. The Panarch's Palace was sacked by rioters. Nothing substantial, however.

- There's still no word from Elayne, and from Galad. They are afraid Morgase's ire will be awoken if she finds out they lost her children again. At least Gawyn is still here. - Yes, but he's barely under control, engaging in skirmishes with the retreating Whitecloaks. - Elaida stares hard at them and murmurs something.

- That shouldn't be a problem for now. Our agents in Caemlyn report that she has her hands full with her new lover, this Lord Gaebril, who's also focusing her towards a claim in Cairhien, so I don't think she'll have time to fuss over Galad's disappearance. As for Elayne, I've set someone to writing regular letters with Elayne's handwriting - this should qualm any anxiety for now.

- Alviarin: Well, if that's all, I guess we're finished for today. - They start rising, when Elaida says:

- Have I given you leave to go, daughters? - the stop, half-turned. - Since you decided to rise, you'll stand like this until I'm finished. Now, I didn't hear a word about how the search for .... THAT woman is going?

- Mother, it's difficult to gather news of her when we spread the rumor she's been executed.

- I don't want to hear excuses, I want to hear results. What about the sisters that left?

- We..... are trying as hard as possible to track them down, Mother, but there are too many! We sent your message inviting them back to every corner of the world, but it will probably take time until they gather courage...

- Courage! They are disobeying their lawful Amyrlin! They are endangering the whole Tower in a moment when it needs to be whole and strong! And if THIS woman is allowed to start spreading her lies again, the result might make all of us scream for years! I want all of you I assigned to these tasks to prepare detailed reports of what you're doing until tomorrow. If I'm not satisfied with them, I'll have to hand out penances, daughters. And now I want to know about him - she points to the picture on the wall, a reproduction of the Falme drawing. All Aes Sedai, excluding Alviarin, evade looking at it, or stare at it as if it were the Dark One; Shemeryn gasps loudly.

- Elaida: Fine example for Aes Sedai you are, if you can't even bring yourselves to face it... come on, say his name with me! RAND AL"THOR! - nervousness spreads - The most dangerous man that ever lived since the Breaking of the World. The Dragon Reborn - a man who can channel!! A man destined to break the world again, before going mad and probably destroy all of us! And you can't even think about him, let alone do anything to stop him! Where is he? WHERE???! - nervous laughter, Shemerin actually starts swooning. We know a dozen places he is NOT - he's not in Falme, where this picture comes from; he's not in the West, not anymore; and he's not anymore in Tear. Everywhere we hear about what he has DONE - we hear that he conquered the Stone and put Tear on its knees, that Tairen armies have been send to Cairhien by him, that he fought the Dark One at Falme, that he repelled an imaginary invasion.... Too much wild rumors, and too few facts. I want him found, daughters! I want every single one of you to make the most effort possible! Or we could as well all throw away our shawls and go play with dolls again! - Shemerin faints.

- A fancy room in a palace. Lord Gaebril questions the tairen Lady Alteima about events in Tear and Rand al'Thor. She says she was forced to flee when her intrigue was discovered, and she was hoping to gain queen Morgase' friendship and help, but now that doesn't matter. Suddenly a portal opens and Lanfear steps through. 'Gaebril' jumps, filling himself with saidin and yells: What do you mean sneaking on me like this, Lanfear?

- Lanfear: Oh my! I know we Chosen have never come even close to being friends, but this borders to outright hostility, Rahvin.

- Rahvin: Don' give me this bullshit! You know full well that we could never be friends, not when you know what's the prize. At best temporary allies....

- Lanfear: If the enemy knew that we suspect each other even more than we suspect them, that we plot against each other as much as against them, they would never stop laughing until the Day of the Return. Only Ishamael has ever been able to make us work together, and that only for a while and at great price. It's really pitiful how soon after his death we started playing our own games again, like children on a playground, all running after a mirage the Great lord sets in front of us - the position of nae'bliss. A king of.... kings, one who's above all else, only a step bellow the Great Lord himself. I've wondered sometimes if he really intends to assign nae'bliss one day, or it's simply a stick to goat us, a way of making us give the best we can?

- Rahvin: Have you come to lecture me, Lanfear? You don't have the authority!

- Lanfear: No, I don't. But I do have the sense to see when we need to band together for the common cause, Rahvin. And since you haven't made a single attempt to contact us, me and some of the others decided to contact you. They'll be coming any minute, now, and I came before to warn you so you don't level half of Caemlyn for nothing.

Another portal opens and Sammael steps through. - I expected serving girls and dancing maids, Rahvin. Have you finally tired of your sport after all these years?

A fourth portal opens and Graendal steps through with two servants. "Oh my! Half the surviving Chosen in one place! I would think next Shayol Ghul itself will host a dancing party! Only Ishamael ever managed to get us together without anyone trying to kill anyone!"

- Rahvin: Do you talk so freely in front of all your servants, Graendal?

- Graendal: Them? Oh... they worship me... right? - the two servants fall on their knees speaking oats of fealty and words of adoration. She waves a hand and they become mute - They do go on, unless I stop them, it could get...distracting. But they wouldn't even think to say anything I don't want them to.

- Rahvin: You were always wasteful with Compulsion - you apply so much the victim isn't good for anything but sport afterwards. So, is that everyone? Or have you managed to convince Demandred he's The Great Lord's heir?

- Lanfear: He's not that arrogant. He can see where it took Ishamael.... and that's the point. Once we were thirteen, the most powerful among men, immortal. Now four are very dead, and one has betrayed us. All after encountering what all of you dismissed as a simple shepherd that isn't word a minute of your time right now.

- Sammael: So, you're certain Asmodean went over? He never had enough courage to do something as extreme as this....

- Lanfear: He had enough courage to try a gamble that would put him above the rest of us... but that gamble failed, and he had to choose between oblivion and serving al'Thor.

- Graendal: And if you were close enough to see that, why did you let him live?

- Lanfear: Because I don't like killing as fast as some of you. Death is very final.... also, to put it in terms you would understand, I wasn't ready to launch a frontal assault against a superior force.

- Sammael: Is he so strong already:

- Lanfear: Lews Terhin was always very strong, and he IS Lews Terrin Telamon reborn, despite the fact that he himself still doesn't fully believe it.

- Graendal: If he is, why haven't you snuggle him already in your bed? I remember you were besotted with the man....

- Lanfear: He might be the soul of Lews Terrin reborn, but he's not Lews Terrin himself. I've observed him closely.... he's no more than the shepherd you said he is. But be it as it may, he managed to kill four of us already, and defeated a fifth - he now has his teachings to rely on. I think we should start thinking of countering him more effectively. We tried each one with his own plan, and look where it got us. Now he has an army behind his back - I wonder where he would strike next. Maybe at you Sammael? In your fortress? Or at you , Rahvin? How would you like to serve , instead of being served?

- Sammael: So, what are you proposing?

- Lanfear: Ishamael tried to entice and control him and failed. Then he tried to bully him and failed again, to his death. But he never wanted to understand that these methods don't work with Lews Terrin.

- Sammael: Ishamael was more than half-mad, and less than half-human.

- Graendal: Is that all we are? Human? I think a new word would have to be invented to describe us.

- Lanfear: Whatever we are, we can succeed where Ishamael failed.

- Rahvin: How so? And why the four of us?

- Lanfear: And why not? The four of us are enough between us to do all that needs done, and not to share the glory with the others. Now, I do suspect that one or more of the others are also targeting him - whether to control, or kill him, I don't know, but in any case I suspect either Demandred or Moghedien..... [voice trails off, camera pans out]

[The Wheel of time | The Fires of Haven]

Part I

  • Scene 1. Core springs, Andor; one month after the meeting at Alcair Dal.

Min, Siuan and Leane are staying in a room in an inn, fidgeting nervously. Min is resigned, Siuan determined, Leane - eager. All three are dirty, with travel-stained clothes.

- Siuan, to Leane: Do you still mean to try this ... foolishness?

- Leane: This 'foolishness' has served Domani women for centuries! Thanks to it, we're able to control men without them even realizing it, and we've become one of the greatest merchants in the world! Now, if you don't have anything useful to suggest...

The door opens and a man dressed like a town militia invites them - Lord Bryne will judge them now. They walk into a crowded common room, full of villagers, most of which eye them with disdain, some with interest. Next to the big fireplace a single table is set, behind it is Gareth Bryne, with a woman standing next to him. She intones:

-All here attend and give ear, for justice will be meted out by our Lord Gareth Bryne. You are accused of trespassing, arson and destruction of property, the killing of valuable livestock, assault on the person of Admer Nem, and the theft of a purse said to contain gold and silver. - murmurs in the audience. Siuan looks horrified and stares at Bryne, murmuring "I didn't know it's him." The woman continues: - Your accusers are here to face you. Admer Nem, you will now give your testimony.

A man steps out of the crowd self-importantly:

- Nem: Like I said, Lord Gareth, it happened like this: Me and my family were preparing to sleep, when I heard noise from the barn. I went to investigate, and I was attacked by a huge man [flashback of Logain hitting Nem, with the women screaming in the back]; we fought and I was getting the better of it [flashback of Logain bringing him to the ground and pounding him], when he somehow knocked down my lantern. The hay went up, and I called for help [scenes of a fire, the family joins him to help], to try and put out the fire. In the confusion the huge man escaped, but we managed to seize these three women with him. Finally, we had to give up on the barn and everything in it - I lost 6 good cows and a number of chickens, my Lord [barn burning to the ground]! And later, when we brought these harridans into the house, my wife noticed that a purse I had left on the table had vanished. That's how it was.

- (a woman from the crowd): You whip these hussies good, lord Gareth, you hear? Whip them good!

- Lord Bryne: No one gave you leave to speak, Maigan! This is a trial, not a petition meeting! - the crowd murmurs, then settles down. - Now, what do you have to say in your defense?

Leane steps forward and starts charming him and the audience, using every seduction trick of the Domani. She says they're refugees from the troubles in the west, poor women that trusted the wrong man to defend them. They've clearly misjudged him, as last night's incident shows. Mercy, bablablabla. - Everyone is silent, women looking furious, men looking enthralled. Brine stands up and goes to Min, asks her name - Min, my Lord - Siuan throws her a look- I mean, Serenla Min, but everyone calls me Serenla. - Do you have something to add? - No, my Lord, only that we're really sorry. It was all Dalyn's fault, the man who was with us - he's a brute, and we shouldn't have trusted him.

He goes to Siuan, who presents herself as Mara Tomanes. She's really nervous, she speaks in whispers, and says she's also sorry. He shakes his head, walks some more then sits and says:

- The crimes are serious, and you are guilty of them - nothing that I heard changes that impression. It seems true that it was this ... Dalyn that actually did the assault, and that the fire was more an accident, but you being there in the first place caused all this. So, here's my judgment: Admer Nem, you'll go and speak to Caralin here after the trial, and tell her exactly how much money you thought there was in the purse. She'll reimburse you, once she's satisfied with the number. Also, I'll give you the price of six milkcows, and enough money to build a new barn. Caralin will be overseeing this, too, and make sure the barn and the cows don't come out .... too expensive. And you three..... You will work for me, for normal wages, until you work out all I had to spend to reimburse Mr. Nem here. You can either work in the fields, where I'll assign someone to guard you, or in my manor - if you swear you won't run away. So, what will it be?

The girls fidget nervously, then Siuan steps forward, kneels and : "I swear by the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, that I'll serve my penance without trying to escape."

- Bryne: Well..... I certainly didn't expect this. And you? - the other two have no choice but to swear the same oath. - OK then, it seems you will serve in my manor. One of my men will prepare a cart to drive you. Take them away. - The guards return them to the room and leave them. Min rounds up on Siuan:

- What on Earth possessed you to swear this oath? Only a Darkfriend would break it! Now we have to stay no one knows how many months to change bedsheets, cook, and the Light only knows what... What happened to all your determination to bring down Elaida?

- Siuan (calmly): I swore that oath because it was the only one I could think of that would fully convince a man like Gareth Bryne that we won't try to escape. I've met him before, and he's not deceived easily - he IS one of the greatest generals alive, and a skilled player of the Game of Houses, and such men aren't to be trifled with.

- Min (horrified): So... you really MEAN to break it? Boy, I knew that stilling made you capable of lying again, but this....

- Siuan: I mean no such thing! I won't break my oath, I just chose not to specify when I'm gonna serve it! And it doesn't have to be now - once we're done with everything, I mean to return here and ask humbly for the chance to serve my penance!

- Min: You sly....

- Siuan, to Leane: And you, how can you live with yourself after such....performance????

- Leane, furious: Don't you dare judge me! After all you've brought us into! You have no right anymore to tell me how I am to behave!

- Siuan, abashed: Sorry, Leane, I didn't really mean to... but old habits die out hard....

- Leane: It's OK. We're all on edge... Siuan, I know that for you bringing down Elaida might be enough reason to live, to counter the effects of.... stilling, but the Light help me - for me it is not! I've tried to think about it, to think how much harm Elaida could bring to the Tower, to the world, if she's allowed to reign free, but.... It's simply not enough for me. I was raised to be a merchant, like all my female relatives. I was also taught all the tricks they knew, those tricks that you saw now in action... I've forgotten all about it after my life changed, after I found out I could channel and I went to the Tower. But now..... you know what, it actually IS fun to do all this, to look for the minute reactions of your target, to adjust your strategy, to organize every muscle of your face, body, your voice.... It's almost as difficult as manipulating the One Power! And then you see the result on the man's face, on his behavior!

- Min: I didn't see much result on Gareth Bryne's face.

- Leane: Well, I'm out of practice. But give me a month and you'll see what I can do! Lord Bryne will dandle me on his knee, and give us the easiest tasks around, that is if he doesn't decide our penance is served already!

- Siuan: I don't intend to give you a month with him. I mean to wait at most couple of days, to make sure they aren't watching us.

The guards come and escort them to a cart, driven by one of them.

- Min: Siuan, sorry but I have to ask: It's been nearly two months since the coup, we've stopped at every single village between Tar Valon and here - are you still sure you're not chasing the wind?

- Siuan, whispering: I told you, SERENLA - I was once in control of the Blue Ajah's network of eyes and ears. I still remember many contact names, and as it turned out, they are still active. I've found messages that convinced me there IS a gathering of sisters opposing Elaida. From now on, it's only a matter of finding out where it is.

A sudden thud, the cart lurches a bit, then suddenly starts accelerating. They take a look outside and see that there's no driver. Leane goes out and reigns in the horses. They go down and notice the driver lying back on the road. Suddenly, Logain comes out of the bushes, holding a sling and smiling broadly.

- Siuan: Logain. I thought you've left us.

- Logain: And miss my chance of revenge? No, you promised and I mean to stick to you and make you deliver on that promise! Besides, it does look you need a man to look after you, after all. Now, quick, our horses are nearby - I didn't hit the guy hard enough to kill him, which means we have only enough time until he wakes up and walks back to the village to raise the alarm. We need to be gone by then.

They all go in the bushes.

  • Scene 2. Caemlyn, the Royal Palace

Queen Morgase holds court with Lady Elenia Sarand, Lady Arymilla Nean, the Tairen Lady Alteima and some others. Gaebril watches with barely concealed condescending smile. Suddenly, Lady Ellorien Traemane storms in, despite the guards' efforts to stop her.

- Morgase (rising): What's the meaning of this, Ellorien?

- Ellorien: I demand an explanation, that's the meaning of it! I've tried to meet you for two days now, and the guards wouldn't let me in!

- But why? You know you're always welcome here....

- Ask your lover why! They said it's his orders!

- Gaebril: You might want to moderate your tone with me, woman!

- Morgase: Ellenia, what's going on? Why do you insist on seeing me?

- I insist to know the reasons you've exiled all your friends, Morgase! I understand you having a temper and quarreling with Gareth Bryne - he's a difficult man, but you've consistently been sending away everyone that supported you for the Lion throne, replacing them with these....toads!

- Morgase: I've sent them away because.... (she's suddenly lost for words; Rahvin's murmurs sound in her head)... for good reasons each one, that's why!

- Good reasons? Like for example them taking a look at your lover? What's happened to you Morgase? When did you became so besotted with the man to forget everything you've been taught about politics? And these.... gowns you're wearing, you look more like a tavern dancer then a queen!

- Gaebril: How dare you speak like that to your queen!

- Morgase (looking at her dress, flushed): Well.... it has a little low neckline... (Rahvin's murmurs: I have to look stunning for him, I have to seduce him, a wonderful man, a gorgeous man....)

- Gaebril (turning to her angrily): Why do you listen to her? You have the right to wear whatever you choose in your own court! And you also have the right to demand respect from your subjects!

- Morgase: She's one of my oldest friends, Gaebril, let her speak. (murmurs receding)

- Ellenia: Morgase, you haven't been yourself ever since you came back from Tar Valon. You've replaced all your councilors, the new tax policies you imposed are completely unfair, and worst of all - you're trying to impose an Andoran claim on Cairhien - something most unwise with the civil war there and the Dragon Reborn walking through the world as if it were his backyard. Aiel savages across the Dragonwall again, chaos in the West, the Whitecloaks manipulating the whole South, and you play with your lover! When are you going to do something about the Two Rivers?

- Morgase: The.... what..... (she looks around completely confused). Suddenly Gaebril's rage explodes, he channels and the murmurs in her head return with double strenght, saying 'She crossed the line, banish her!':

- Morgase: Ellenia, you've crossed the line. You're banished from Caemlyn! - Whaaaat? How dare you! Now you started banishing friends because they speak the truth? Or there's another reason?

- I said get out of here!

- Why, Morgase, simply give me a logical reason why! - Gaebril smiles viciously and twists his weave, the murmur says: If she questions your reasons, flog her!

- Morgase: And because you want to know why, you'll be flogged before thrown out of the city! Guards! - they drag away the screaming Ellenia. Gaebril pats Morgase on the cheek 'Good girl' - style, she beams at him, and all other women smirk contemptuously. Murmurs increase in force until screen clacks out.

Lord Bryne writes something on a table. Caralin enters, announcing a visitor. Bryne gets up, telling her to let him in, and looks out of the window - armed people are gathering in the courtyard.

- What news, Billi?

- Interesting stuff, my Lord. The rumors from up north got confirmed - Siuan Sanche has been deposed, stilled and executed, and Elaida has been elected Amyrlin. Word is, there was a real battle INSIDE the Tower, with Aes Sedai and Warders on both sides.

- Interesting... I never thought Siuan Sanche would fall, she looked as solid as a mountain. I met her once, during the negotiations with Murandi three years ago, about their incursions into Andor. This woman made me forget all my station, all my experience as a battle commander and politician, and made me feel like a 5-year old. She made me beg forgiveness on my knees -ON MY KNEES- in front of the entire delegation!

- That must've been.... quite an experience, my Lord.

- Yes... so, Elaida is now Amyrlin? She's not as strong as Siuan Sanche. Hard, yes, stubborn - beyond doubt. But her character is not fit for ruling, only for bullying. People can sense this. That means that some will want to test her limits, they'll try to challenge the Tower authority.... aaaaah. I have to stop thinking about that, I'm not a politician anymore. Let's focus on our current problem. Did you find them?

- No, my Lord, but I found their tracks. They've done a good job covering them, it took me the whole afternoon yesterday, but they're heading south, towards Murandy.

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