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Seeker
01-13-2014, 06:08 PM
By request of Tworiverswoman, I'll be uploading a WOT fic that I wrote about five years ago. I'll have to do it in installments as I need to update the story to be correct with facts as established by the end of A Memory of Light.

So, it may take some time.

Hope you like it.

Prologue:

The Year of Our Lord Dragon 814.

Of all the places that Jaren could Travel to, a dank tunnel under the remains of what had once been a fortress was not one he would have chosen. The walls of gray stone were coated in moss and holes in the ceiling allowed thin rays of daylight to peak through into the gloom. The air smelled... foul.

Jaren grimaced.

He wore his Asha'man's uniform – black trousers and a thigh-length coat with green epaulets on the shoulders – but while that would normally give him some sense of power and authority, in this place it only made him feel exposed. Try as he might, he could not rid himself of the thought that something was watching him.

His sun-darkened face bore a light dusting of stubble on the jawline, his brown hair kept short. “I don't care for this, Lasira,” he grumbled. “What could you have found down here that is so important?”

The woman walked in front of him.

Tall and slender, she wore a blue riding dress with silver embroidery on the sleeves. Golden curls cascaded over her shoulders, falling to the small of her back. “You will have to see it for yourself,” she said, walking in the radiance of a globe of light that she'd woven into existence.

Jaren felt his mouth tighten, then lowered his eyes to the floor. He tried to remain calm. “If you insist,” he said, nodding to himself. “But at this point, anything less than a powerful sa'angreal will result in my displeasure.”

He sighed.

Something about this place made hair stand on the back of his neck. Jaren assumed the void, finding peace in the emptiness. Saidin was waiting for him there and with a thought, he seized it. Molten fury surged through his veins along with cold to freeze his very blood.

Lasira shot a glance over her shoulder. She frowned at him, brows drawing together in displeasure. “You needn't do that.” she told him. “I promise that nothing you find here will bring you harm.”

Curse those Serpent rings! Ever since the White Tower had learned to create ter'angreal that detected male channeling, men had lost a major advantage. Not that it should have mattered – they were supposed to be allies, after all – but for most of the Asha'man, it did.

Sucking on his lower lip, Jaren felt his cheeks redden. He narrowed his eyes. “I will hold the Power whenever it pleases me,” he spat. “And you would be equally cautious if our positions were reversed.”

It wasn't very long before the tunnel ended in a room that might have once been an armory. The ceiling had collapsed, leaving jagged walls to reach up toward an overcast sky. Once out in the open, Jaren felt the damp chill of autumn air and briefly considered spinning a web of Fire to-

“You bring another to me?”

Jaren felt his jaw drop, then turned his face up to the sky. He squinted, trying to find the source of the sound. “Who are you?” he asked, stepping closer to Lasira. “Where are you speaking from?”

“He is strong?”

Lasira stepped forward into the light, keeping her back turned. “This one is among the strongest of men,” she said, nodding to the invisible speaker. “He will serve our cause well in time.”

Staring at the wall with his mouth agape, Jaren felt blood drain out of his face. He winced, shaking his head. “No, it is not possible,” he said, shuffling back into the tunnel. “The Lord Dragon sealed you away!”

Disembodied laughter filled the air.

Lasira turned on the spot.

Lifting her chin, she fixed blue eyes on him, then sniffed as if he were a complete idiot. “The Dark One is bound, Jaren,” she said, moving toward him. “We intend to make sure he stays bound.”

“The darkness will come again,” the voice whispered. “All things come and pass with the turning of the Wheel. Evil must not be permitted to enter the Pattern once again. The cycle must come to an end.”

Clamping a hand over his mouth, Jaren squeezed his eyes shut. He tried to keep his breathing steady. “What is this thing?” he muttered into his own palm. “Lasira, what have you gotten yourself involved with?”

She smiled at him like a mother trying to comfort a frightened child. “It will be all right, Jaren,” she said, nodding once. “The Master wishes only to bring about the triumph of the Light.”

“The Light...”

The tingling in his arms grew fiercer, a sign that she was drawing more of the One Power. Lasira glided toward him, extending a hand. “Join us, Jaren. Help us complete the Creator's grand design.”

Clenching his teeth, Jaren shut his eyes. He felt one tear roll over his cheek to drip from his chin. “I won't do this, Lasira,” he said, shaking his head. “The Black Tower has to know about this. We must-”

“He would betray us!” the voice boomed. “Kill him!'

Lasira raised both hands, a look of concentration on her face. Before Jaren could speak, a stream of flame erupted from her open palms, illuminating the tunnel as it sped toward him.

Jaren stretched a hand out.

Flows of Fire lashed out from his fingers, struck the oncoming flames and snuffed them, leaving only smoke that threatened to choke him. He added touches of air to send that cloud toward Lasira.
She went stumbling back with a hand raised up to shield her face, stepping into the light. “It doesn't have to be this way, Jaren!” Letting her arm drop, she snarled at him. “I do not wish to kill you!”

“You said nothing would harm me...”

“I lied.”

Baring his teeth, Jaren scrunched up his face like a pug dog. He channeled, threads of Air snapping into place. The light compressed as a pulse of hardened air zipped down the tunnel.

It bounced off an invisible wall that had formed in front of Lasira, flew back in his direction and struck the tunnel wall with enough force to send a few bricks falling to the ground.

Jaren felt something nip at his connection to the Source. He spun threads of Spirit, slicing through the woman's attempt to shield him. It felt like trying to cut a strong rope with a butter knife but he managed it.

Lasira stumbled.

Jaren thrust a hand out.

Flows of Air seized the woman, lifted her off the ground and threw her backward like a leaf caught in a storm. She collided with the wall behind her, then dropped to her knees, head hanging.

Jaren pressed his lips together, his face tight with anguish. He squinted at the fool woman. “I don't want to do this either,” he said, striding through the tunnel. “Can't you see that this thing is manipulating you?”

She looked up at him, strands of blonde hair falling over her flushed face. She let out a hiss. “You should have struck while you had the advantage,” she hissed. In seconds, he was on the defensive again.

This time, Jaren focused, losing himself in the flow of saidin. He felt Lasira's web form even though he could not see it. Or rather, he felt the absence of saidin, the spot where concentrations in the female half of the Power repelled the male half. He channeled Spirit and struck out.

Lasira stumbled.

Once again, she looked up at him and narrowed her eyes to slits. She thrust out her hand and screamed. Jaren felt a disruption in the Source. He channeled, slashing through it with webs of Spirit.

Forced to back away, Jaren grunted. He clenched his teeth and let his head hang. “I don't want to lose you, Lasira!” he shouted. “You are a trusted friend and ally. Don't let it end this way!”
She lashed out.

He countered, braiding flows of Spirit into a razor-sharp lash, slicing them through the air in front of him. Whatever weave she had crafted was ripped to shreds and Lasira cried out in pain.

So, why did he still feel a disruption just above... Oh no. Cracks spread across the tunnel's ceiling just before the whole thing came down with a thunderous roar. Jaren tried to channel Air but chunks of stone pummeled him before he could complete the web. His last seconds were drowned in pain.

___________________________________________

Wrapped in the glory of saidar, Lasira let the weave of Earth and Fire dissipate and did her best to stifle the ache in her chest. Jaren had been a trusted friend and ally. The tunnel had collapsed, its mouth sealed shut by rubble that spilled out into the open room. A pity that she had to resort to such measures.

Above her, the overcast sky seemed to scowl. She felt the chill that preceded a rain storm and half considered remaining here. As if each drop could somehow wash the sin off her soul.

“He was weak,” the voice thundered. “Bring others. Our cause is just. We will see an end to the darkness.”

“How?” Lasira whispered.

“It is not yet time,” the voice replied. “We work slowly. Pieces must be maneuvered into place. Patience is key.”

“Patience...”

___________________________________________

163 Years Later.

Sliding a clip into his pistol, Benson worked the slide with a sharp click-clack. He always preferred a fresh mag before going into a tense situation. Even if it was nothing more than the difference between ten rounds in one clip and nine in the other, that extra bullet could save your life.

Benson clenched his teeth and squinted through the visor of his helmet. “Let's get on with this,” he said, shaking his head. “Ennades, what's the update on these flaming sacks of goat piss?”

Perched next to him on the stairwell landing, Liam Ennades wore black fatigues and a heavy vest. His pale chin was cleanly shaved and his eyes hidden by the glare on the clear visor of his helmet. “Siala made eyes on them.” he replied. “They're bringing the first crates into the parking garage now.”

“We move?”

Liam pursed his lips, then turned his face up to the ceiling. He was silent for a very long moment. “She hasn't given the signal yet,” he said at last. “Soft and easy, Jarl. We'll pounce at the right moment.”

The waiting: that was always the hardest part of any sting. Wondering what could go wrong, whether your lookout had been made. Siala Jensen had worn a uniform for less than six months. If something happened....

Chewing on his lip, Benson bowed his head. He shut his eyes, taking a deep breath through his nose. Soft and easy, Jarl, he repeated to himself. That girl is about as sharp as they come.

“Move!” Liam shouted. “Go now!”

Benson got to his feet.

He was the first through the door, finding himself in a huge underground parking lot with purple signs on its concrete walls. White lines divided the floor into a series of parking spaces but the only vehicle present was an old gray van with its back doors open. Two men in coveralls were busy hefting a wooden crate into the vehicle. The seemed not to notice their predicament.

In the distance, two men and one woman in black tactical gear had entered from a stairwell on the other side of the building. They ran with pistols drawn, weapons pointed at the thieves.

Baring his teeth in a snarl, Benson felt his face grow warm. He squinted through the visor. “Imperial Intelligence Service!” he shouted. “On the floor! GET ON THE FLOOR NOW!”

The men in gray coveralls glanced in his direction. As one, they spun around and began marching toward Benson and Liam. Their faces were slack, expressionless, almost as through someone had drained the life from them.

Dropping to one knee, Benson raised his pistol in both hands. He focused, taking aim for a precise shot. “I said get down!” he shouted a final warning. If the enemy kept coming, then by the Dark One's piss, you pulled the trigger.

He fired.

A bullet hole appeared in one man's chest, blood spraying up from the wound. The poor fellow fell backward, landing hard on his backside.

The other kept coming.

He stared blankly into the distance with eyes that belonged on a dead man, unaware of his peril. Or perhaps he just didn't care. The man shuffled to within twenty feet of them when Liam's gun went off with a CRACK! CRACK!

Two bullet holes appeared side by side in the man's torso and blood sprayed into the air. Their attacker dropped to his knees, then fell face-down on the parking lot floor. If he hadn't been dead before, he certainly was now.

“Jarl!”

When Benson looked up, he noticed his three teammates on the far side of the room now lying sprawled out on the floor. Smoke rose from their battered body and there was no doubt in his mind what had killed them.

Another man in coveralls stepped out from behind the van. This one wore a smile on his handsome face, shaking his head ever so slowly. “I went to such lengths to avoid being noticed...”

He pursed his lips as he studied Benson, then narrowed his eyes. “I found myself a pair of helpers,” he said, moving forward. “It would have been easier to just move those crates with the One Power but no... I didn't want to risk it. And you found me anyway. I really must commend your diligence.”

Benson raised his weapon.

Craning his neck, he hissed at the man, spittle flying from his lips. “Do your very worst,” he said through clenched teeth. “The only way you're leaving this place is in a body bag!”

He fired.

Bullets crashed into an invisible wall that had formed in front of the man, flattened slugs dropping to the floor. The channeler just kept moving forward. “Do you understand the kind of trouble you're in?”

Liam got to his feet.

“Ennades, no!”

It was too late. Liam charged forward at full speed. He seemed to freeze in mid-step with one foot lifted off the ground, as though the very air had congealed around his body. Something lifted him off the ground and threw him across the room. Liam collided with a pillar and fell to the floor.

The channeler frowned, turning his head to fix his gaze on Benson's partner. “You have got to be kidding me,” he said, creases forming in his brow. “Congratulations, lad, I can use someone like you.”

Use someone like Liam? What use could a man who abused the One Power have for an agent like Liam? He filed that question away as his mind desperately searched for a way out of this mess. “Sit a spell,” the channeler went on. “We can use your partner as well; although, I have to admit he won't enjoy it as much.”

Benson was about to fire off an insult but a sudden pressure against his mind made the words die on his tongue. How could he ever think ill of this man, of this Adonis, who stood before him? In that moment, Jarl Benson knew that his life would never truly be complete until he pleased his new master.

He would do anything, anything! No task was beneath him so long is it brought the favour of his master. “Please...” Benson whispered. “Oh please command me, my Lord. I am your faithful-”

The pressure vanished.

Benson looked up to find Liam standing behind the channeler with a knife pressed to the other man's throat. Ennades gave a quick jerk of his hand and the channeler made a spluttering noise.

He doubled over, blood dripping from his neck. Coughing – at least, they sounded like coughs – the man fell to his knees. Watching him die was an unpleasant experience but Benson was well aware of the fact that this was the best way things could have gone. “How did you do it?” he gasped. “How...”

He looked up.

Liam frowned, his face going redder and redder by the second. He winced so hard that he trembled. “The web he made was very intricate,” he began. “At least that's what I figure by its effects on you. Flaming idiot was so distracted he never heard me coming up from behind.”

___________________________________________

The entire operation had gone to the Pit because absolutely no one had anticipated the presence of a channeler. Well, in truth, someone probably had – the question 'what do we do if one of them starts hurling fire at us?' often came up during meetings – but what under the Light could they do?

The situation made bile churn in Liam's stomach. Three good people dead because one man could burn them to ash with no more than a snap of his fingers. No one should have that kind of power. No one.

They needed a countermeasure, something that would allow an ordinary person to face off with a channeler. He'd work on it. You'd be surprised what you could figure out with a little research.
Bright lights in the ceiling illuminated a small store room of plain white walls and gray carpets. There was nothing in here except the wooden crate they had recovered, its lid upended to reveal the contents inside.

Liam felt his mouth tighten. Wincing hard, he rubbed his nose with the back of his hand. “Well, isn't this lovely,” he muttered to himself. “Nothing but a bunch of junk that no one would want.”

Inside the box, he found a bunch of knickknacks: clay cups and plates with chips in them, an old knife with a blade so dull he'd be more than comfortable to run it across the skin of his neck. Nothing of value! When intelligence reports had predicted a theft at the Imperial Museum, he had expected someone to raid the priceless treasures of the Second Seanchan Dynasty. These things probably hadn't even been on display.

He shuffled them around to expose some of the larger items on the bottom. It would royally flay his nerves if Siala, Dax and Jerom had died for nothing. Why would any man who could summon the One Power want-

His breath caught in his throat.

Light sparkled on the silvery leash that connected a bracelet and collar. When Liam moved some of the junk aside, he found two others. The man had been stealing a'dam? Did the bloody things even work or were they just some of the mock-ups they kept on display in the Imperial History section?

No one had made use of an a'dam since the end of the Wrath Wars over seven hundred years ago. Their destruction had been a condition of the peace treaty with the North Eastern Alliance. So... who did the dead man want to enslave? Liam wondered. And where did he intend to find women to wear the bracelets?

Looking at the vile thing brought up memories of the One Power, memories that he would rather suppress. The light was there, just beyond the corner of his eye, tempting him. Liam ignored it.
Touching saidin might very well kill him. In that way, he had been worse than severed. The One Power would be there for him whenever he wanted it but to Liam Ennades, it was poison. The brief flicker he had channeled while attempting to save Jarl had very nearly caused him to pass out.

He sifted through the junk and found a few more things that caught his eye. A thin blue rod about as long as his index finger, a pair of rings with a little too much luster, not to mention the very obvious figurine of a woman with a book held up in front of her face: all objects of the Power.

Well, now we know why he wanted the box.

There was something else.

Light reflected off the edge of something that appeared to be made of silver. When Liam picked it up, he found himself staring at a medallion in the shape of a fox's head, a medallion with a strange symbol in one of the fox's eyes. The Flame of Tar Valon and the Dragon's Fang together...

Rarely did those two go hand in hand.

Only then did he notice something wonderful; he had grown so used to ignoring the temptations of the One Power that he honestly hadn't noticed when the light of saidin simply vanished. He could no longer sense it! The blasted Power was no longer there to tempt him! It was almost as if he had never been cursed with the ability to channel.

Covering his gaping mouth with the tips of his fingers, Liam shut his eyes. Now how did that happen? he thought, shaking his head. Could this thing be designed to suppress a channeler's abilities?.

He set the foxhead down.

The wretched light was back the instant it was no longer touching his skin. So, the relief was only temporary. But even so, this little medallion opened up all sorts of options that he'd have never considered before. If he could find someone to duplicate it, someone who shared his views on the excesses of the One Power, the possibilities were enormous. Handcuffs that suppressed a channeler's talents. Or maybe even bullets!

Liam slipped the medallion into his pocket.

At long last, they might have a countermeasure.