The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 18



Show me a sister who does not think the White Tower is losing its grip on events, and if she is not Brown Ajah, she is dead. Time may be growing short for all of us, Daughter. Sometimes I think I can almost feel it growing shorter."
"As you say, Mother, things change. But there are still worse perils outside the Shining Walls than within."
For a long moment the Amyrlin met Moiraine's gaze, then nodded slowly. "Leave us, Leane. I would talk to my Daughter Moiraine alone."
There was only a moment's hesitation before Leane said, "As you wish, Mother." Moiraine could feel her surprise. The Amyrlin gave few audiences without the Keeper present, especially not to a sister she had reason to chastise.
The door opened and closed behind Leane. She would not say a word in the anteroom of what had occurred inside, but the news that Moiraine was alone with the Amyrlin would spread through the Aes Sedai in Fal Dara like wildfire through a dry forest, and the speculation would begin.
As soon as the door closed the Amyrlin stood, and Moiraine felt a momentary tingle in her skin as the other woman channeled the One Power. For an instant, the Amyrlin Seat seemed to her to be surrounded by a nimbus of bright light.
"I don't know that any of the others have your old trick," the Amyrlin Seat said, lightly touching the blue stone on Moiraine's forehead with one finger, "but most of us have some small tricks remembered from childhood. In any event, no one can hear what we say now."
Suddenly she threw her arms around Moiraine, a warm hug between old friends; Moiraine hugged back as warmly.
"You are the only one, Moiraine, with whom I can remember who I was. Even Leane always acts as if I had become the stole and the staff, even when we are alone, as if we'd never giggled together as novices. Sometimes I wish we still were novices, you and I. Still innocent enough to see it all as a gleeman's tale come true, still innocent enough to think we would find men-they would be princes, remember, handsome and strong and gentle? - who could bear to live with women of an Aes Sedai's power. Still innocent enough to dream of the happy ending to the gleeman's tale, of living our lives as other women do, just with more than they."
"We are Aes Sedai, Siuan. We have our duty. Even if you and I had not been born to channel, would you give it up for a home and a husband, even a prince? I do not believe it. That is a village goodwife's dream. Not even the Greens go so far."
The Amyrlin stepped back. "No, I would not give it up. Most of the time, no. But there have been times I envied that village goodwife. At this moment, I almost do. Moiraine, if anyone, even Leane, discovers what we plan, we will both be stilled. And I can't say they would be wrong to do it."

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 5
(Sunburst)
The Shadow in Shienar
Stilled. The word seemed to quiver in the air, almost visible. When it was done to a man who could channel the Power, who must be stopped before madness drove him to the destruction of all around him, it was called gentling, but for Aes Sedai it was stilling. Stilled. No longer able to channel the flow of the One Power. Able to sense saidar, the female half of the True Source, but no longer having the ability to touch it. Remembering what was gone forever. So seldom had it been done that every novice was required to learn the name of each Aes Sedai since the Breaking of the World who had been stilled, and her crime, but none could think of it without a shudder. Women bore being stilled no better than men did being gentled.
Moiraine had known the risk from the first, and she knew it was necessary. That did not mean it was pleasant to dwell on. Her eyes narrowed, and only the gleam in them showed her anger, and her worry. "Leane would follow you to the slopes of Shayol Ghul, Siuan, and into the Pit of Doom. You cannot think sh

"No. But then, would she think it betrayal? Is it betrayal to betray a traitor? Do you never think of that?"
"Never. What we do, Siuan, is what must be done. We have both known it for nearly twenty years. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and you and I were chosen for this by the Pattern. We are a part of the Prophecies, and the Prophecies must be fulfilled. Must!"
"The Prophecies must be fulfilled. We were taught that they will be, and must be, and yet that fulfillment is treason to everything else we were taught. Some would say to everything we stand for." Rubbing her arms, the Amyrlin Seat walked over to peer through the narrow arrowslit at the garden below. She touched the curtains. "Here in the women's apartments they hang draperies to soften the rooms, and they plant beautiful gardens, but there is no part of this place not purposemade for battle, death, and killing." She continued in the same pensive tone. "Only twice since the Breaking of the World has the Amyrlin Seat been stripped of stole and staff."
"Tetsuan, who betrayed Manetheren for jealousy of Elisande's powers, and Bonwhin, who tried to use Artur Hawkwing for a puppet to control the world and so nearly destroyed Tar Valon."
The Amyrlin continued her study of the garden. "Both of the Red, and both replaced by Amyrlin from the Blue. The reason there has not been an Amyrlin chosen from the Red since Bonwhin, and the reason the Red Ajah will take any pretext to pull down an Amyrlin from the Blue, all wrapped neatly together. I have no wish to be the third to lose the stole and the staff, Moiraine. For you, of course, it would mean being stilled and put outside the Shining Walls."
"Elaida, for one, would never let me off so easily." Moiraine watched her friend's back intently. Light, what has come over her? She has never been like this before. Where is her strength, her fire? "But it will not come to that, Siuan."
The other woman went on as if she had not spoken. "For me, it would be different. Even stilled, an Amyrlin who has been pulled down cannot be allowed to wander about loose; she might be seen as a martyr, become a rallying point for opposition. Tetsuan and Bonwhin were kept in the White Tower as servants. Scullery maids, who could be pointed to as cautions as to what can happen to the mightiest. No one can rally around a woman who must scrub floors and pots all day. Pity her, yes, but not rally to her."
Eyes blazing, Moiraine leaned her fists on the table. "Look at me, Siuan. Look at me! Are you saying that you want to give up, after all these years, after all we have done? Give up, and let the world go? And all for fear of a switching for not getting the pots clean enough!" She put into it all the scorn she could summon, and was relieved when her friend spun to face her. The strength was still there, strained but still there. Those clear blue eyes were as hot with anger as her own.
"I remember which of the two of us squealed the loudest when we were switched as novices. You had lived a soft life in Cairhien, Moiraine. Not like working a fishing boat." Abruptly Siuan slapped the table with a loud crack. "No, I am not suggesting giving up, but neither do I propose to watch everything slide out of our hands while I can do nothing! Most of my troubles with the Hall stem from you.
Even the Greens wonder why I haven't called you to the Tower and taught you a little discipline. Half the sisters with me think you should be handed over to the Reds, and if that happens, you will wish you were a novice again, with nothing worse to look forward to than a switching. Light! If any of them remember we were friends as novices, I'd be there beside you.
"We had a plan! A plan, Moiraine! Locate the boy and bring him to Tar Valon, where we could hide him, keep him safe and guide him. Since you left the Tower, I have had only two messages from you. Two! I feel as if I'm trying to sail the Fingers of the Dragon in the dark. One message to say you were entering the Two Rivers, going to this village, this Emond's Field. Soon, I thought. He's found, and she'll have him in hand soon. Then word from Caemlyn to say you were coming to Shienar, to Fal Dara, not Tar Valon. Fal Dara, with the Blight almost close enough to touch. Fal Dara, where Trollocs raid and Myrddraal ride as near every day as makes no difference. Nearly twenty years of planning and searching, and you toss all our plans practically in the Dark One's face. Are you mad?"
Now that she had stirred life in the other woman, Moiraine returned to outward calm, herself. Calm, but firm insistence, too. "The Pattern pays no heed to human plans, Siuan. With all our scheming, we forgot what we were dealing with. Ta'veren. Elaida is wrong. Artur Paendrag Tanreall was never this strongly ta'veren. The Wheel will weave the Pattern around this young man as it wills, whatever our plans."
The anger left Amyrlin's face, replaced by whitefaced shock. "It sounds as if you are saying we might as well give up. Do you now suggest standing aside and watching the world burn?"
"No, Siuan. Never standing aside." Yet the world will burn, Siuan, one way or another, whatever we do.

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