False Tower, Noble Ambitions

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Story by Jermaine Shiuan for Project Gaidin's Death Match Week 1.

18 Years ago
Achure Sedai betrayed the Tower for greed, though she convinced herself it was an act of compassion. Lord Torese was sincere in his offer, wishing nothing more to stay with his only child and last reminder of her mother. His daughter would die if she didn’t learn to control the one power, but Lord Torese didn’t see why he couldn’t have her trained with him by her side. So he bribed Achure to stay and tutor the girl.

She had found young potentials dozens of times around the Westlands, and never once had her emotions stirred by taking a girl from their family. Achure’s emotions were instead moved by Torese’s bank accounts, his offer of comforts, and the ability to raise a heiress of a noble house. She disguised those wants with the compassion of not removing the girl and the father from one another, accepting the offers of gold given by a man who could not accept the loss.

A purple robed woman lay dead at Jermaine’s feet, with a young man attacking him. Adriana Sedai believed that the young woman was a channeler, and that their young men were like the warders at the Tower. These trained Wilders unnerved him a little, but Jermaine kept fighting. They had already killed two of the Younglings. The swordsman parried Jermaine’s blow, and then followed by putting Jermaine on the defense. Jermaine responded with brute force, pushing back the young swordsman, and then retreated, prize in hand.

4 Weeks Ago
Achure was pleased with her girls. They had taken out two guards, stolen four ter’angreal, and done it right under the noses of two Aes Sedai. Giselle and Marion proved themselves ready to become Lady Sharon Torese’s new ladies in waiting. They’d soon be bonded to two promising gentlemen, chosen among the finest and most loyal of Lord’s Torese’s fiefs.

Rinette, though, would be unable to pass in high society. Achure hadn’t discovered the girl soon enough, and farm girl’s ways couldn’t be corrected. Achure instead planned to use Rinette’s abilities to understand tactics and strategy. She would make her the Master of Arms among Achure’s acolytes. Cairhien’s noble houses were always filled with intrigue, so it was always possible that House Torese could potentially become involved in a house war. Having well disciplined channelers on their side would be a tremendous advantage.

2 Weeks Ago
Each of them had been sent orders by the Keeper to meet in the training grounds. Hais, a tall curly haired man who had been chosen as their unit leader, stood in front of a small garden fountain. He was talking with Luce, a stout man with a gnarled beard. Driel, the son of a Gleeman, entertained various young women that passed through the grounds while he mad sure everything is in its place. Jermaine, a son of Lord Shiuan, walked up to join his brethren, followed closely by his dark haired friend Carid. Seeing them gathered together at last Adriana walked out to brief them.

5 Days Ago
Adriana’s investigation had lead them into the city of Cairhien. Her informants had told her which people were interested in Aloren Sedai’s excavation in Draviesian lands. She sighed. Getting sucked into Daes Dae'mar would be a waste of her time. The ter’angreal needed to be secured. As long as they were missing, they were a danger to both Tar Valon and the people of the world. Adriana would not allow any to be harmed if it could be prevented by her being just a little bit quicker.

3 Days Ago
Adriana had found her way into a ball under a false identity. Most of her suspects were there, and would provide her with a better look at her investigation. At her side was the young Jermaine, who she brought for his noble lineage. That birth line had proven an unexpected asset. It didn’t take long for them to find one of their primary suspects. Three younger servant girls channeled spirit to compel the young men of the court to their whims. Jermaine found out the name of their master shortly after. Lady Sharon Torese.

Last Night
Adriana and Driel were busy scouting out Keep Torese, while Hais was organizing their small camp. Carid and Jermaine were setting up the tents while Luce was preparing the evening meal.

“So Jermaine, you saw them, didn’t you? The enemy?” Carid asked.

“Yeah, Lady Torese looks like an Aes Sedai, ageless. Her ladies in waiting looked almost the same. The servant girls appeared normal, except that noblemen talked to them like they were ladies of great houses and they were the servants,” Jermaine answered. “I’m worried about the attack.”

Luce, optimistic as usual, chimed in, “We have Adriana Sedai. She’s one of the best. She’ll get us through.”

Carid said, “I suppose, but...”

“... but why would they send recruits with one of the Reds?” asked Hais as he finished Carid’s sentence. “Why not a Green? They would look at us to bond or look at us for a sister of their Ajah. A Red Aes Sedai would have likely preferred one of their Ajah here, but they are too valuable to waste on a simple investigation or retrieval. The answer is simple. We are expendable. It is far better to risk us than it is one Aes Sedai.”

Hais’s words were grim and silenced the speculation of what lay ahead the next day.

Earlier Today
Adriana Sedai split up the team into two groups. Herself with Caird and Driel, and Hais with Jermaine and Luce. Into each of them she channeled spirit, removing any fatigue from their system. The weave was simple and had next to no effect on her. Her and Driel’s scouting had discovered three of the four missing ter’angreal. One shaped like beads on a chain was being worn by a lady-in-waiting to Lady Torese in the eastern part of the keep. Another was being held at a barracks being used as women’s quarters. The third of the ter’angreal was being studied by three girls in purple robes, barely out of their teens.

Adriana figured the women here were being trained as channelers, which baffled her a little. She had counted more than 10 women channeling during her recon and much of it warded against different things. She was dealing with either a very clever woman, or a group of women. She had chosen to attack the three women studying the Ter’angreal. They were weaker channelers, but there were more of them. The women’s quarters would need their full team, so she ignored it currently. That left Hais with the Lady-in-Waiting. Even if she were of Adriana’s strength, and even though she had the ter’angreal, Adriana hoped the men would be able to overpower her before she did much damage.

Moments Earlier
Hais engaged the young gentleman guarding Lady-in-Waiting Giselle. She weaved air and caused Luce to fall off balance. Then she and her ter’angreal bracelet glowed with a dim red color. Fire spread along Luce’s clothing, burning him. She then weaved air towards Hais, but Jermaine appeared behind her startling her. He cleaved her in two. The gentleman raged. He knocked Hais to the floor, stabbing him in the chest before turning to charge Jermaine.

Jermaine arrived at the camp, the single gentleman still on his trail. He turned to see the raged man have someone drop behind him. “Great, more trouble,” thought Jermaine. But the man didn’t do what Jermaine expected. The figure took out two knives and cut the gentleman’s neck. He then walked towards Jermaine and offered his hand.

“Driel, you scare the crap out of me at times.” Driel removed his cloak and laughed at his friend.

Driel guided Jermaine into the woods a little way, until they found Adriana Sedai sitting with Carid.

“Did you get it?” she asked. Jermaine just extended his hand with the bracelet in tow. “I’m pretty sure it helps with channeling fire.” The Aes Sedai nodded and took the bracelet from him.

“Driel, you give me the one we took as well.” Driel sheepishly smiled and placed a small pin in Adriana Sedai’s hands. Adriana wrapped each in a strips of cloth to keep them safe.

The task ahead of them seemed impossible. Hais had been the best swordsman of the group, but even he had fallen in a fight. They had women not bound by the oath rod, and men that fought like Warders. Prudence told her to at least send for some of her Red sisters, or even just any Aes Sedai that might possibly be in Cairhien. No channeler could be taken lightly.

Achure had built up her acolytes by integrating them with Cairhien’s noble society. Her neophytes were taken from local farms and villages before the Aes Sedai could detect them. They were trained as servants of Lady Sharon Torese, as well as channelers. Achure experimented with their abilities in all aspects of their lives, and refined them to be ladies of the court. Achure was the high priestess of this new society, and these girls her loyal followers.

Lady Torese was their monarch, but always differed to Achure’s judgement. As such the highest of Achure’s girls were named as Lady Torese’s ladies-in-waiting. Achure taught them to bond young men who came from Torese’s various fiefs as a reward for reaching their rank. So far, only five had attained it, but Achure had given two of them different duties from the other ladies in waiting. Rinette served as her Mistress at Arms, the military commander for channelers, and Abella served as the head mistress for the incoming neophytes. The other three served lady Torese as bodyguards and retainers. Whenever a woman reached the level of lady in waiting Achure would also have Torese bribe the king to dispense minor titles to their families.

Her Acolytes were given purple robes and made up the bulk of her number. Currently 12 served her, and she disguised them as servants. Each of them were taught to play the Great Game of Houses, with education in history, politics, and actions of the court. She considered her acolytes special, and so taught each of them herself. Wherever Lord or Lady Torese went, one of the purple robed channelers would be influencing things in the background.

“Mistress Achure, there has been a break in. Four of your girls are dead.”

Adriana Sedai settled on a plan. She sent the quickest among them, Driel, back to the tower with the two captured ter’angreal. That left her with only Jermaine and Carid, who were much better on the defense than the offense. With four of the purple robed channelers dead they would be alert, but Adriana was certain of a way to get information.

A Night Later
Sharon Torese, heiress to the Torese household, was preparing her nightly rituals when a loud crash went through the window. Three figures clad in black robes grabbed her and fled with her in tow. She attempted to weave fire, but found herself blocked from the one power.

The Next Day
Achure paled as she read the ransom note. Someone had the gall to kidnap her most important student, and the lady of the most important house. Stephen Torese was fuming over the kidnapping, but that soon stopped when an acolyte compelled his emotions to be quelled. He settled down, exhausted by the weaving worked on him. Achure had to accept giving up the ter’angreal if she wanted to continue her operation here.

Later That Day
Jermaine Shiuan agreed to be the one that would appear before Lord Torese to exchange the hostage for the ter’angreal. He made this move knowing it would throw suspicion onto his house rather than the Tower. Adriana Sedai played the Great Game of Houses well. As he went forward with the girl, he greeted the guard and took the ter’angriel, handing them quickly to the disguised Aes Sedai to verify their authenticity. Adriana Sedai and Carid quickly retreated into the wild with the two powerful objects. Jermaine however received the full wrath of house Torese, and was cut down before he could follow.

A Few Weeks Later
Adriana Sedai carried the remaining two ter’angreal back to Tar Valon as she remembered the Younglings’ sacrifice at Torese Keep. There she would assemble a mighty army to burn and destroy the False Tower of Torese.