Mazrim Taim drew the eye. He was tall, with a strongly hooked nose and an air of physical strength about him. An air of darkness, too. He sat there with his ankles crossed and one arm hanging over the heavy arm of the throne, yet he seemed ready to explode into violence. Interestingly, though his black coat was embroidered with blue-and-gold dragons that twined around the sleeves from elbows to cuffs, he did not wear the collar pins.
Six sisters of the Red Ajah, he said when they stopped short of the dais. His eyes. . . . She had only thought the Tairens eyes were augers. Plainly you didnt come to try gentling us all. Chuckles rippled around the room. Why did you come asking to speak to me?
I am Pevara Tazanovni, Sitter for the Red, she said. This is Javindhra Doraille, also a Red Sitter. The others are Tarna Feir, Desala Nevanche
I didnt ask your names, Taim cut in coldly. I asked why you came here.
This was not going well. She managed not to take a deep breath, but she wanted to. Outwardly, she was cool and calm. Inside, she wondered whether she would end the day forcibly bonded. Or dead. We want to discuss bonding Ashaman as Warders. After all, youve bonded fifty-one sisters. Against their will. As well to let him know they were aware of that from the start. We do not propose bonding any man against his will, however.
A tall, golden-haired man standing near the dais sneered at her. Why should we allow Aes Sedai to take any m Something unseen struck the side of his head so hard that his feet left the floor tiles before he fell in a heap, eyes closed and blood trickling from his nostrils.
A lean man with receding gray-streaked hair and a forked beard bent to touch a finger to the fallen mans head. Hes alive, he said as he straightened, but his skulls cracked and his jaws broken. He might have been talking about the weather. None of the men made any move to offer Healing. Not one!
I have some small skill in Healing. Melare said, gathering her skirts and already moving toward the fallen man. Enough for this, I think. With your permission.
Taim shook his head. You do not have my permission. If Mishraile survives till nightfall, hell be Healed. Perhaps the pain will teach him to guard his tongue. You say you want to bond Warders? Reds?
That last word carried a great deal of contempt, which Pevara chose to ignore. Tarnas eyes could have turned the sun to an icicle, though. Pevara laid a cautionary hand on the other womans arm as she spoke. Reds have experience with men who can channel. Mutters rose among the watching Ashaman. Angry mutters. She ignored that, too. We are not afraid of them. Custom can be as hard to change as law, harder at times, but it has been decided to change ours. Henceforth, Red sisters may bond Warders, but only men who can channel. Each sister may bond as many as she feels comfortable with. Given the Green, for example, I think that is unlikely to be more than three or four.
Pevara blinked in spite of herself. Very well? She must have misunderstood him. He could not have been convinced so easily.
Taims eyes seemed to bore into her head. He spread his hands, and it was a mocking gesture. What would you have me say? Fair is fair? Equal shares? Accept very well and ask who will let you bond them. Besides, you must remember the old saying. Let the lord of chaos rule. The chamber erupted with mens laughter.
Pevara had never heard any saying like that. The laughter made the hair on the back of her neck try to stand.
The End of the Eleventh Boo