Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Tel'aran'rhiod and Portal Worlds
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Stasia
"A Crown of Swords"
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Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Post by Stasia » May 21st, 2016, 1:45 am

Illyria Malkom
Accepted Jalisa haunted the Aes Sedai.

There was nothing physically wrong with the child, but in the blink of an eye, she had transformed from a well-adjusted, studious, and mild-mannered Accepted to a woman that had lost all grip on reality and on her sanity. She screamed of nightmares, spiders, eyes – ever watching eyes – and impending doom. It was enough to make her queasy, and only served to make the Tower an increasingly uneasy place. Illyria fiddled with the Oathsworn pin on her dress nervously; though many of her Brothers and Sisters had abandoned their Oaths as soon as the Hall allowed it, Torianin among them, Illyria had yet to reach a decision. She was sworn to the Grey Tower. She had taken their Oaths as a final rite of passage – she had cast off her past and become an Aes Sedai. How the Tower had not crumpled beneath the weight of its M’Hael and his decisions, Illyria could not say. There were whispers, frightening rumors, that Jayrd Kosari was a Darkfriend and that he had done this to bring the Tower to its knees before Tarmon Gai’don. His handiwork had already divided the Tower – even inside Ajahs, no one could agree on the best course of action. All that was left was to conquer it.

Jalisa screamed of Oathbreakers.

The Accepted had been confined in the Infirmary since she had been discovered; from what Illyria could gather, the child could not contain herself at the sight of anyone only spiraled into hysteria when anyone tried to talk with her. No Healing could aid her, and her condition only worsened as the days dragged by. No one came in contact with her, save the silent Yellows that brought her food and water that she ignored, and nothing changed. The child was not a recorded Foreteller and Illyria had never heard for Foretellings bringing on madness; death, yes – but this was a fate worse than dying. Dreaming, perhaps, but that was never as forthright as Jalisa’s fears. Dreams were warped by symbolism, often only untangled after the events had passed. Illyria danced tepidly around her worst fear, but ultimately found that there was no other plausible option: the source of Jalisa’s insanity was in the Unseen World.

It was possible that the child had some small skill there, not yet discovered, or that she had accidentally brushed against Tel’aran’rhoid in her sleep and unintentionally tumbled into… Something… But there was nothing unintentional about Illyria’s course of action. She’d Warded her dreams since her days as an Accepted, but had never been grateful for it until now – she was skilled in the World of Dreams, but this was no dalliance, or a child forgetting that what was there was not real. This was something real. Illyria fiddled with the pin on her dress again, and tried not to fidget on the uncomfortable Infirmary bed. In tatters and falling apart or not, the Tower was her home. She had a duty as an Aes Sedai. Mistress of Novices or not, a child had been harmed. She had a duty as an Aes Sedai and as a mother. Emila was tucked away safely with her husband, likely barricaded behind a mile of haphazard Wards – they did not need to be skillful, only efficient. Oaths or no Oaths, Silas was prepared to use the Power as a weapon if it was necessary. And Illyria was here in the Infirmary, with a Yellow on duty, in case she found what she was looking for. If she was lucky, any wound she sustained could be Healed quickly enough to keep her alive.

She nodded to the Yellow sister solemnly, and took comfort in a fellow ageless face. “I appreciate your help, sister,” she said softly, and finally dropped her hand from her pin. Illyria took one last, long glace at the door that hid away Jalisa, and steeled herself. “Light willing, morning will come peacefully.”
Tel’aran’rhoid was as subtle, soft, and deadly as it ever had been. Ambient light filled the Infirmary, though it had been nightfall a few moments before. Illyria stood beside the bed where she had fallen asleep and scanned the wide, high-vaulted room carefully. Bandages and paperwork flickered in and out of existence on tables, blankets and pillows shifted silently and eerily as the Unseen World tried to reflect the every-day occurrences of the waking world. The Aes Sedai took even, measured breaths. I am real, she reminded herself. This is not. She had spent over a decade mastering Dreamwalking and was well-acquainted with the dangers of distraction – she did not allow herself to think of her fear. Her heartbeat became her focus, a soft metronome, a piece of life that grounded her in world that shifted constantly.

Jalisa, she thought, calm and clear. Jalisa.. Instantaneously, the world shifted around her, and she was brought to the small, dark room where the Accepted was sure to be sleeping, but there was no one there. Carefully, Illyria walked the length of the room, and nothing shifted. The child had not been there long enough for Tel’aran’rhoid to begin reflecting the meals she was brought, or the bedding that she slept in. It had been a vain hope, too easy and too safe – to find the source of the child’s undoing, she would have to follow her more closely. Illyria suppressed her fear, placed her hand on her diaphragm, and concentrated on her breathing. I am real. This is not. It took a long moment for her heart to return to a steady beat, but once it had, she shifted her focus.

Perfectly serene, with and iron-grasp on the World of Dreams, Illyria allowed her need to guide her. Oathbreakers. Oathbreakers. Oathbrekers. The world shifted slowly, in a blur of color and scenery, but the Aes Sedai persevered; each time she thought of what she needed, she could feel that she was coming closer. Finally, the world materialized around her – she was in a room made of stone, a room that already had occupants – and the world twisted again, in a sickening, dizzying way. She felt as though she had been doused in icy water, and fear gripped every cell in her body: she tried to gasp, and was alarmed when she found that there was no air. There was only water, water that was so cold that it burned. Illyria tried to swim, frantic, but could not see in the dark waters well enough to know which way was up. Her lungs burned and every inch of her felt as though it was pain incarnate. There was no time for thought, no time for remembering, no time for anything – she was going to die.
Illyria could not remember the last time that she had screamed. Perhaps this was the first time that she had truly screamed; the noise tore from her throat as she bolted upright in bed covered in clammy sweat. Wild-eyed, Illyria tried to scramble out of bed, away from the dream and away from the pain. She could not remember how long she screamed – only that she struggled against the Yellow’s grasp and that the Healer’s pleas fell on deaf ears. She struggled when the Yellow bound her with the Power, and struggled more when the woman tried to force something down her throat, and felt as though she screamed until she had torn a hole in her throat.

Unlike Jalisa, Illyria regained her senses. Slowly, slowly, the fear retreated. It felt like she had spent weeks trapped in the confines of her horror, but the Yellow on guard – now that Illyria was lucid, she remembered that her sister’s name was Raen – said that it had only been a day. Why she was whole and only shaken while Jalisa was shattered, Illyria could not say. All she knew was that she needed to return. Shreds of memory were all that she had; when she grasped at the thoughts, they dissipated like fog between her fingers. All she knew was that she had to find them. She rested a short while, obediently sipped Raen’s thin broth, meditated long into the night, and then entered Tel’aran’rhoid again. When she found the Oathbreakers again, she was met with fire. All of her careful planning and preparation was sundered in an instant; instead of facing the source of Jalisa’s madness, she was met with madness of her own. Stripped bare and tied to a stake, fire licked at her limbs and charred her skin into black, crumbly ash. She screamed and screamed, but a crowd that had appeared from nowhere only laughed. Rope bit into her skin, smoke burned her eyes – she struggled and squirmed, and blood poured from her like a fountain with a sickening sound – the pain was immeasurable, all consuming, and burned hotter than anything that she had ever experienced. When she woke to the cold Infirmary, whole and well, with the memory of pain bearing down on her mind like the weight of the Tower itself, she grabbed Rane by her dress, pulled the woman down to her bed until they were nose-to-nose. “They can see me,” she said, thinking of the crowd that had only smiled as she burned, her voice hoarse and cracked from overuse, “They can see all of us.”
Pale, pre-dawn sunlight streamed into the Infirmary, almost cordially. Healers worked silently and quickly in the early hours of the morning; Raen sat beside her, dozing in a chair. She had only slept after Illyria had given her word that she would not enter the World of Dreams without supervision, and since she was still bound by her Oaths, the Yellow had been satisfied with her word. Illyria could not sleep – she was too afraid of what she might meet in her dreams. Though they would only be hollow impressions of what she had faced in the Unseen World, even thinking of them was enough to make her stomach churn violently. Illyria trembled, unable to stop the shiver that rolled up her spine. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she squeezed them shut to stop from crying – her breath left her body in a shaky hiss as she attempted to regain control. In all of her years as an Aes Sedai, in all of her years of training, she had never stopped to think that she would be faced with this; her skill in the World of Dreams was nearly unequaled, and yet someone – or something – was able to toss her aside like a ragdoll and plunge her into nightmares.

It should have been impossible. But it was her new reality. The past six months had been nearly enough to wear the Tower into the ground and now? Now, Illyria feared that she would go down with it. She felt as though fear was all she was; if it were not for Silas’ bond, his presence cementing her to reality, she might have been like Jalisa. Perhaps even that would not be enough; whatever had been done to the Accepted could still be done to her. There was no pretending that Jalisa had collapsed beneath a lack of willpower or skill, not anymore. She nudged at Silas’ presence through her mind and felt a reassuring tug return, despite his frustration with her; thankfully, since he had taken oaths to obey her, she had been able to forbid him from entering Tel’aran’rhoid with her, and forbidden him from visiting her. He was doing well where he was, watching over their daughter. If… if she died trying to find these Oathbreakers, or lost her mind to fear, there would not be many that could take her place. Very few Aes Sedai or Asha’man possessed the Ability to enter the World of Dreams on their own, and even though ter’angreal could aid anyone, it was practice and control that was key.

And despite all of her practice, her training, her careful control… she was failing.

Illyria wept silently. There were no answers that she wanted to consider: nothing good or even ambivalent could be the root of such a massive… Evil. A lifetime ago, when she had served as Keeper of the Chronicles, the Amrylin Seat had told her that the Black Ajah was real. Riven Trimak himself had confirmed it, but never before had she been certain of its existence herself. The Dark One was real, but he and the Forsaken were bound at Shayol Ghul – how could their influence be here? How could the Shadow have reached their Tower? Her home, her sanctuary, her dreams? It felt as though the ground was crumbling away from beneath her feet. But what else could it be? An Accepted had trapped the Yards in a dream, once, but it had been nothing like this. Long contemplation told her that this was skilled and deliberate – whatever these Oathbreakers were, they meant to do harm – if her fear told her anything, it told her that they meant to destroy everything and anything in their path. Even if an entire Tower was their obstacle. Light help me, she begged silently, Light help Jalisa.

But the Light would do nothing. She knew better than to count on a Creator that had long-stopped sheltering the world. No…These Oathbreakers needed to be found, and it needed to be done by someone. Her stomach lurched at the prospect of returning, of falling prey to another nightmare. She made the mistake of thinking of the burning, relentless pain and threw up into her lap before she could even reach for a bedpan. Bile burned her throat from where it had gone raw from screaming, and the soiled blanket was hot and wet in her lap – she tossed it away before she threw up again.

“Raen,” she croaked, reaching from her bed to shake the Yellow awake, “Raen. I need to go back.” The Healer woke quickly, eyes red-rimmed with exhaustion. For a moment, Illyria thought that the woman might demand that they wait another day, but something hardened in her features. It was time. The Yellow gathered herself silently and stood from her chair, embraced the Source, and Illyria watched as she wove; a small weave settled over her, offering a little refreshment. Raen squeezed her hand and it seemed that she tried to smile encouragingly, but Illyria felt none of her hope. This would be the fifth time that she sought out the Oathbreakers; perhaps this would be the time that she broke and lost her mind completely.

Nonetheless, the Aes Sedai closed her eyes, let herself drift away, and entered Tel’aran’rhoid. Illyria did not pause in the Infirmary like she had in the beginning of her investigation, but instead immediately sought the Oathbreakers – she could not help but feel that with them, she sought her own undoing.
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Sunny
"Knife of Dreams"
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Re: Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Post by Sunny » May 26th, 2016, 12:29 am

"She"
She drifted aimlessly between darkness and light for time unmeasured. The world outside the emptiness had long since faded to a distant foggy memory. For a time she had struggled to remember, and then she had grieved their loss. Eventually, dim acceptance had finally crept around her. She had chosen to leave it all behind, after all; what right did she have to return? She wondered sometimes why she remained in that place, but the thought never stayed long. It was difficult to hold onto anything in those shifting mists.

And then it ended.

One moment she floated in pearly gray nothingness, and the next she tumbled through a confusing jumble of color and shapes, pain flaring behind eyes that didn't know how to focus. Bare skin crawled and shivered as she slapped belly down on something cold and flat. Something clung about her face and blocked her breath, caught on her lips. She marveled at the pounding in her chest even as she panicked, her hands scrambling about her for purchase. There were rough lines punctuating the smooth surface she lay on at regular intervals; her fingers caught on them, and the tactile sensation stole her breath. What is this? She wanted to see it, but- she reached up, her fingers tangling in long strands of- hair, her mind supplied the word sluggishly, as if it had had to journey a great distance to find it. That is my hair.

Slowly, muscles protesting, the prostrate woman pushed herself upward. Once on all fours she sank backward, her hands walking on the floor until she had straightened to settle her bottom onto her feet. She brushed soft waves of brown hair out of her face and looked around. The floor beneath her was inlaid in a pattern of deep blue flames. Two white tiles, one blue flame, two white, one flame, endlessly. No, not quite. She found a wall eventually, following the line of finally carved moulding until she ran into a fluted column. Her gaze slid up those ivory curves, until they encountered yet more carvings. They were too complicated for her tired mind to follow; she blinked, eyes watering, and glanced away.

Her eyes settled on a thing hanging on the wall opposite her. After a moment of mindless staring, she remembered its name. Mirror. A mirror that could reveal her face; abruptly curiosity consumed her. Who am I? She scrambled up, struggling to remember the simple act of balancing on feet that flexed and trembled against the cold marble. Walking....how was that done again? Ah. Slowly, her gait lurching and erratic, she approached the fixture, her eyes tracing the simple silver frame before she had actually positioned herself to look within.

Brown hair fell in loose waves around a dusky face that featured dark eyes framed by long lashes, and perfectly curved lips. No scars marked that elegant beauty; somehow, that seemed wrong. There had been pain, hadn't there? Something had happened, someone had, somehow she had- her vision spiraled inward until all she could see was her own eyes, staring back at her in silent accusation. Memories slammed into her, one after another, shaking her body, rattling her mind, jolting the very world around her into chaos.

My name is Amadie Laine.
Amadie Laine
The World of Dreams seemed the same as it ever had. The light glowed from all directions no matter where Amadie traveled, and objects shifted about in random disarray just the way they should. Her thoughts drifted as time passed, as incorporeal as the world around her. She had vague memories of encounters with others, but by the third time she saw a familiar face she left Hama Valon behind and floated away in the endless river of time.

She spent what felt like hours but might have been days, weeks or even years lying on her back in the fields of Arad Doman contemplating what it might mean that she still existed. Had she died in truth, and the Creator had seen fit to put her back in Tel’aran’rhiod? Why? If by the grace of the Light she had managed to survive that monster’s attack, then why couldn’t she step into the waking world? Eventually it occurred to her that if she lived, then she had been taken to the World of Dreams in the flesh. Although she could appreciate the logic of the thought, she could not make herself understand why it had happened. Who would do that? It was said that those who remained there in the flesh too long became less than human- what did that make her? She certainly looked human enough, although the absence of hunger perplexed her.

Eventually curiosity reminded her of things she had once spent her life studying, and she pulled herself from her musing enough to envision a rose within her mind. The sweet warmth of saidar wrapped around her without hesitation, filling her to the brim with life and a light that drove away the clinging tendrils of fog that had inhabited her mind. She drank it in until she shone like a beacon on the hilltop she sat upon, her face turned up to the endless sky.

The Aes Sedai briefly considered opening a Gateway back to the waking world. Theoretically it could be done, although she had never done it herself. The weave couldn’t be that different from Traveling- and there could be no better way to find the answers to her questions than to attempt to leave. Something held her, however. Eventually she released the True Source and wandered away, her essence blending into her surroundings without resistance.
Danger.

Menace rolled through Tel’aran’rhiod, the uneasy fiber of the unseen world shuddering and rippling with the pressure of that threat. Amadie had returned to the Grey Tower that night, some part of who she had once been demanding reassurance that the place she had once called home still stood. She pulled herself from absent contemplation of the rooms that had once been hers, and turned to face the source of the disruption.

It churned and roiled, whatever it was, growing rapidly in the twilight of the World of Dreams. For a moment she saw the opening to a cavern, a gaping maw of shadow and fire, the flames licking out to coil around her flesh. In the face of horror, Amadie clung to what she knew of the reality of the room she stood in, wrapping her mind in her certainty of its existence. I was so young and naive. The thought floated across her mind, and she found herself smiling. Yes, she had been little more than a child, playing in affairs she knew nothing about. All that had changed.

A sound like a snapped harp string filled the air, and the room returned to as it had been, the terrible presence rushing away like leaves tumbling in a storm. The dark-haired woman followed unbidden and unnoticed, until at last she floated in darkness, staring down at a lamp-lit room of stone. Seven figures sat facing one another in high-backed chairs, dark robes masking every inch of their bodies. In the center of the circle, darkness gathered. It ate at the light around it, long tendrils crackling out like inverted lightning to brush against against this form or that. Floating as she was, Amadie could see the figure within that shadow.

Abruptly the shadow surged to the side, engulfing a ninth person who had joined them, this one slender, auburn hair glowing unbound in the light. Discordant consternation crossed the cool depths of Amadie’s detachment. I know her. I care about her. Illyria had been Mistress of Novices when Amadie was a novice, and had quickly become her friend when she reached the shawl. Now she screamed, contorting within that inky black void.

Amadie hesitated. If I act now, they will all know I am here. Her peaceful existence would come to an end. Memories of blue eyes and piercing agony momentarily swept away reason, her mind scrambling away in terror. No, no, no! She hadn’t felt that particular presence in the World of Dreams since her return.

Illyria wailed again, a piercing sound like an injured child.

In the darkness, Amadie closed her eyes -if eyes she had- and pulled the world about her to her liking. She and the Seanchan Aes Sedai standing alone in the Blue Ajah’s courtyard. Gravel beneath their feet, small decorative trees surrounding them, and a fountain centered on the wide path behind them. Glass walls surrounded them on all sides, rising ten levels before opening to empty sky. An archway led to the Tower ground behind her, a door into the Tower proper in front.

Real. It’s real. It had to be real. There was no other possible way for anything to be. She clenched her fists, fingernails digging into her palms, and forced her expectations upon the darkness that surrounded them. She felt a sensation like rushing wind against her face, and heard a startled yelp.

When Amadie opened her eyes, she stood in the Blue Ajah courtyard. She wore a blue gown in her native Domani fashion, her hair bound up in a golden net. She had not dressed so formally since returning; that she had done so now distracted her from all else for several long breaths. Then she realized she was not alone. When she looked up, she found the other Aes Sedai staring at her, grey eyes wide.

“Monsters walk the World of Dreams of late,” she said. Her voice sounded rough from disuse; she touched her throat and swallowed before continuing. “What brings you to this place, sister?”
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False alarm- there's still a song for me; I'm just about around to sing it
There's still a chance for me...and I'm still here singing.

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Stasia
"A Crown of Swords"
Posts: 710
Joined: July 18th, 2014, 3:23 am
PC: Illyria Malkom
SC: Muireen do Morny a'Lordeine
Location: Two Rivers, Georgia

Re: Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Post by Stasia » June 3rd, 2016, 10:56 pm

Illyria Malkom
Tel'aran'rhoid warped beneath her need - it took less than the space of a heartbeat for her to find the Oathbreakers again. Seven figures that seemed to be shrouded in black mist sat around a table, discussing something in distorted voices; Illyria tried to force the World of Dreams to bend to her desires, pitched her will against whoever dared to encroach upon her Tower and her dreams, and focused solely upon the things that made her happiest in the world: without risking exposing her identity to those that clearly meant to do her harm, the Aes Sedai could not exactly think of her family, but she could think about them, in a roundabout way. The way that Emila's laughter filled her to the brim with joy, the safety of her husband's embrace, the solace she felt studying in her quarters, impressions and flashes of the emotions that made her live worth living -

All of it, useless.

Tel'aran'rhoid held no beauty for her now. Distilled reality, once soft, deadly, and somehow serene, was now only thick, churning pitch: black and burning, pain seemed to eat away at every fiber of her being. It took a long moment for her to realize that this nightmare was much like all of the other ones, designed to peel away her sanity layer by layer, until she was like Jalisa - broken and neutralized. Now, she was in a vat of boiling oil. Her delicate skin puckered and burst into blisters that were gone as soon as they could form, as if she was boiling too. She couldn't even work her mouth into a scream, or a cry for help - tears that should have rolled down her cheeks felt like burning steam on her raw face, and her sight soon followed: she'd gone blind from the heat.

There was no plea to the Light now - there was nothing but the sensation of her muscles and bone being cooked away, charred into nothingness. A sickening sizzling sound filled her ears that could somehow still hear, and it seemed too loud in the absence of the too-familiar sound of her screams. The oil churned and boiled, and she could hear every last bubble of the substance pop softly, then splatter more oil across the parts of her that were not submerged. Why could she not scream? It is not... It is not.... It is real. The Aes Sedai shattered beneath the realism, wriggling desperately in a cast-iron pot that must have been meant for siege defense tactics - it was a vat, an inescapable sea of fire and pain. And even if she could have crawled free of it, what would be left of her? She could do nothing but sit and listen to her body cook, contort silently, and wish for death to find her.

Illyria still could not see when the world spun around her, but she could hear the gasp that escaped her - it was a shuddering, rasping noise, and everything around her seemed to waver with uncertainty. The pain faded, replaced with a comforting, cool sensation. In a strange moment of clarity, she wondered if Raen would find her body whole and well, or if the bed she had occupied in the Infirmary had merely burst into flames. Surely, she was dead now - though there was little literature on the subject, it was possible to die in the World of Dreams, and when one did, their body died in reality. It was a small mercy that she was not trapped in the nightmare for all eternity, without a chance to be reborn into the Pattern. Perhaps she would float in the darkness for an Age, or two. She would not remember it when she was reborn, which was a pity: how could anyone describe death in the Unseen World if no one could remember it?

A breeze stirred, tugging at her hair. That's... Gingerly, Illyria tried opening her eyes. She had not realized that she had squeezed them shut. The world came into focus around her; though it was still dimmed, a flickering mirror of reality, it was Tel'aran'rhoid's version of the Blue Ajah courtyard. She had not been here in many years, but she knew the place. It was a garden designed for quiet contemplation, with a fountain that trickled softly behind her, and topiaries that were shaped into pleasant spirals. But why would my soul not seek out home? Illyria realized with a start that she was dressed, wearing the same dress that she had been wearing for days in the waking world. It was a rich shade of plum wool, with a square cut neck, and sleeves and skirts that were slashed with cream. Her Oathsworn pin sat on the right side of the neckline, a tiny Cuendillar representation of the Flame and the Fang, the symbol of the Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends. Carefully, she reached up to touch her face, afraid that she would find charred skin and deformed muscle, and was shocked when she found tears instead.

She felt something solid beneath her, though it seemed to dig into her skin at various intervals. Timidly, the Aes Sedai reached out, and found that she felt gravel beneath her hand; that explained what she felt stabbing at her through her dress. Everything seemed to return slowly - Illyria was not sure that she could trust her own senses, but could feel that something anchored her here. If her mind had been able to run rampant, the World of Dreams would have flickered and spiraled around her every inclination. Something held her steady in the Blue Ajah's courtyard, but what... The Indigo rolled upward carefully, trying to stand, and every muscle in her body screamed in protest. She grimaced at the soreness - though it was not like the nightmares, it was still unpleasant. She focused, carefully trying to twist little strands of reality around her: I am not sore, she told the World of Dreams, and I am not in pain. Astonishingly, the muted reality obeyed her command, and the aching pain faded from her limbs. She rose to her feet slowly, and saw that everything about her was in its rightful place, right down to the slippers that matched her dress. Her great serpent ring and her wedding band sat side-by-side on her left hand.

Can I....? Can I leave?

Perhaps she had not died after all. Perhaps Raen was still standing guard over her body, expecting her to wake up, screaming herself raw any moment now. Illyria tugged at the World of Dreams, tried to will herself back into the waking world, but found that she was rooted to this place. Something still held her here. She turned towards the fountain, contemplating the peculiar deviation from the Oathbreakers' usual methods, and felt her heart freeze in her chest: standing behind her was a woman that she had long-thought dead. She yelped, staggered backwards, and nearly landed back in the gravel again. Amadie? Amadie had been the Amyrlin what felt like a lifetime ago; Amadie had been a fiery girl, from Arad Doman but with an uncharacteristic tilt to her eyes, a charming Accepted that had progressed through her lessons and passed everything with flying colors, and then chose a Blue shawl once she ascended the Great Stairs. Amadie Laine had signed her ledger as a Novice and then shaken the Tower its foundation less than a decade later when she declared that a lone Aes Sedai was the first sister of the Red Ajah by executive order, and then she had died.... She had died in Tel'aran'rhoid.

“Monsters walk the World of Dreams of late." The dead woman spoke, and seemed as full as life as she ever had. Her voice was hoarse, and she gently touched her throat before speaking again, as if that surprised her. “What brings you to this place, sister?”

"Amadie?" Illyria's voice cracked, raw from screaming and with fear. Perhaps it was not mercy at all that had placed her in the Blue Ajah courtyard, but a final trap that was laid by the Oathbreakers. Perhaps they were responsible for Amadie's death in the first place. Fear churned in her gut. "Is that truly you? You're - you're dead." Her eyes widened with horror, and it dawned upon her that both of her theories could be simultaneously correct. "I'm dead." She felt along her consciousness, desperately feeling for the Bond that should have anchored her to life, and suddenly could not remember if one could feel Bonds in the World of Dreams. Emila? Silas? What of them? If she was found dead in her bed in the Infirmary, that would reveal her identity - anyone that wanted to know who had been meddling in their affairs would not take it as a coincidence that a Dreamwalking Aes Sedai had died in her sleep.

"Oh... Oh Light," she sobbed, and the reality of her monumental failure crashed down upon her and she fell to her knees. The gravel that dug into her kneecaps should have hurt more than it did, but the pain was numbed. Death was not as light as a feather, as they claimed in the Borderlands. The Oathbreakers were unchecked; Illyria doubted that she had even managed to put a dent in their plans, and had been more of a pesky gnat than anything else. "I failed, Amadie," she croaked, looking up at the woman who had once been her sister with tears shining in her eyes, "I've failed."
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Sunny
"Knife of Dreams"
Posts: 3757
Joined: July 18th, 2014, 3:23 am
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Re: Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Post by Sunny » August 22nd, 2016, 8:51 pm

Amadie
The intensity of the Indigo’s panic caused the world around them to ripple. Blooming shrubbery wilted and faded to brown, the sky darkened, and all color leeched away from the stones and the blue tiles in the walkway. The shadowy figure of a black-haired man holding a baby briefly appeared near the fountain as the older woman fell to her knees, then vanished abruptly. She knew of Silas, recognized him from her time in the Tower; the baby, however.... she gave Illyria a searching look. She had not thought the Seanchan woman interested in having a family, but.... Light. “I failed, Amadie. I’ve failed.” Aes Sedai serenity lay shattered and forgotten as tears flowed down the Seanchan woman’s face.

It took only a moment for Amadie to understand her friend’s distress. She tugged the Indigo to her feet and pulling her away from the walkway, nearly dragging her friend in her urgency to get out of immediate sight. Then she turned to face the Aes Sedai, brown eyes meeting gray with unusual candor. “You have failed nothing,” she said, brushing a strand of hair from the Indigo’s face in a nearly maternal fashion, nevermind that Illyria had been her Mistress of Novices and could probably have been her mother twice over. “You must stay strong, Illyria.”

Confusion and desperate hope flickered over the kindly face. “What…?”

“I don’t know how I came to be here, but I do not believe I can leave,” The Domani woman explained softly, rapidly, her eyes scanning the surrounding area for signs of pursuit. They had moments, perhaps less, before the group in the darkness tracked them down. She continued to speak, describing the nightmare of Shayol Ghul that had tried to consume her, the shadows she had hidden in, how she had first seen Illyria. “I pulled you away because somewhere in the waking world, you are asleep in a bed. You have people who love you, who need you. I will not allow you to die here, if it is in my power to prevent.”

Her skin crawled, and the feeling of decay and horror began to build. She shoved her fear aside and imagined the room in the Grey Tower that had once been hers, pulling herself and Illyria there before the gathering storm could come upon them. “Why were you following them? What is happening in Hama Valon, Illyria?” What of Carra and Jaryd? She dared not ask, not yet. Time enough later, when the shadow had passed.
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False alarm- there's still a song for me; I'm just about around to sing it
There's still a chance for me...and I'm still here singing.

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Stasia
"A Crown of Swords"
Posts: 710
Joined: July 18th, 2014, 3:23 am
PC: Illyria Malkom
SC: Muireen do Morny a'Lordeine
Location: Two Rivers, Georgia

Re: Act 2: Puppets on Strings

Post by Stasia » August 25th, 2016, 9:25 pm

Illyria Malkom
The diminutive, weeping Aes Sedai was dragged to her feet by a woman that was at least a year dead - her skin felt soft, warm, alive, despite the fact that she should have been long cold and stilled. If Illyria had tried to find it, there would have been a pulse: Amadie was no ghostly apparition come to haunt her or guide her towards an empty darkness. She was real, in a world where reality was a dangerous thing. Illyria gasped, her sobbing turned from forthright wailing to shuddering, tremulous hiccuping. If this was a trap, it was a very good one, and she was easy prey; Tel'aran'rhoid warped, distorting all too easily, and Amadie remained solid as stone.

Amadie tucked them behind a tall hedge - I don't remember these being here... - and only then she answered her. "You have failed nothing," she said firmly, looking down at her - sincerity shown in her warm eyes. And Amadie Lane had sworn the Three Oaths: she could not lie. Illyria blinked - her sobbing was silenced with shock. In an intimate gesture, the Blue's thumb trailed across her cheek, and she and tucked a stray strand of red hair behind her ear. Illyria very nearly gave in to temptation - Tel'aran'rhoid rarely felt this safe, especially after the nightmares she had faced - but negligence was a dangerous luxury. Amadie seemed to sense her fading will. "You must stay strong, Illyria."

"What...?" I still don't understand how I'm not dead...But if there is a chance I am not... Amadie kept her hand pressed to Illyria's face a moment longer, then dropped her hand to her side as she began to explain the circumstances of her arrival, her death, and her return: the Indigo knew that her features betrayed her shock, her awe, her horror - Amadie Lane was alive because she had been in the Unseen World in the flesh for far, far too long. "I will not allow you to die here," she said solemnly, as though she was swearing her very soul, "If it is in my power to prevent.”

Before Illyria could open her mouth, she could feel something pressing in on Amadie's will; she had already dealt it a heavy blow with her own lapse of control, and the Blue Ajah Courtyard was no longer an impenetrable fortress, but a soap bubble waiting for an Oathbreaker pin. Her skin crawled - she thought of what she had been subjected to and choked on a scream -

Amadie pulled them somewhere else.

They were still in the Blue Ajah Halls, it seemed - the room was painted and styled in forget-me-not blue, feminine and minimalist. Illyria imagined that Amadie would not have spent very much time in these rooms at all before she had gone before the Hall and been raised to Amyrlin, and that she likely would not have had the time to decorate them to her own tastes. Or perhaps these were her tastes - either way, they were safe and away for the moment. Illyria swallowed the bile in her throat and tried to ignore that her face burned with shame. She claimed to understand the World of Dreams, and yet she was stumbling like a child. She coughed, scrubbed away the last of her tears, and added her will to Amadie's: her heartbeat began to slow, finally, and her breathing was no longer a frantic staccato of fear. I am real. Amadie is real. This is not.

"My apologies, Mother." She dipped her head respectfully. "I will be less of a hindrance, now."

Amadie ignored her formalities and moved forward as if the transgression had not occurred. "Why were you following them?" Her question was nearly as direct as her piercing gaze - she grasped Illyria by the shoulders, as if she needed to do anything more to indicate the urgency of the matter. "What is happening in Hama Valon, Illyria?" The Indigo licked her lips, and tried to ignore her mouth that had run dry; the truth of the matter was that she knew little more than Amadie did.

"An Accepted," she began slowly, unsure how to tell Amadie what had passed, "She... Woke up screaming. She's lost her mind to some kind of madness. Madness that couldn't be Healed. I investigated and discovered the source of her madness. I can confirm, it is... Enough to drive anyone mad. I do not know who they are or what they want - but there have been Omens for months of destruction and chaos - I've been almost constantly here, or in a nightmare of their doing... Almost four days now, if not more. I do not know what has passed in the waking world. For all I know, the Tower could be stacked in rubble above my head." It was a sobering thought, but one that did not seem implausible now.

She stared up at Amadie, watching from the corner of her eye as documents flickered in and out of existence on a desktop. Perhaps she lived here after all, or someone else does now. She kept her breathing steady - I am real. Amadie is real. This is not. - and finally found the courage to voice a question that she was afraid to have answered: "The Accepted called them Oathbreakers. Who are they, Amadie?"
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