Winter's Heart: Prologue
Chapter Icon: Wheel and Serpent
Talene admits being Black Ajah. Elayne meets with Taim and becomes first-sister to Aviendha. We see the formation of two factions in the Black Tower. Rand appoints Stewards for Cairhein, Tear and Illian.
Seaine's Point of View:
Setting: The White Tower
It is a few hours since Talene had refused to retake the oaths and deep in the White Tower, Seaine listens to distant footsteps, brought to her by a weave of saidar prepared to bring warning of anyone approaching. She hears rats, and is shocked to have them in the White Tower. She is concerned by the fact that the women she believes to be heads of Ajah are meeting in secret. Talene is in the Chair of Remorse, undergoing a vision of being flogged by Trollocs. Yukiri is concerned that she is on her third time and has not broken, and she wonders if Talene could be innocent and frets that they could be exiled, birched and stilled. Pevara is adamant; Talene tried to stab them to escape and is therefore guilty. They bring her awake before the Trollocs in her dream can put her in the cookpot.
Once awake, Pevara demands that Talene forswear the oaths that bind her and retake the Three Oaths. Under threat of being placed back in the dream, Talene takes the Oath Rod and forswears all oaths that bind her and begins to howl. They make her re-swear the Three Oaths and a fourth, to obey the four of them absolutely. She admits to being Black Ajah. When told that they intend to tell Elaida, she tells them Elaida herself is Black Ajah and that the Black Ajah knows her every plan and every decision days before it is announced. They try to decide what to do with Talene, which prompts Seaine to tell the others about Zerah and that they are having her bring Bernaile, another of the rebels, to them that day.
Elayne's Point of View:
Setting: The Royal Palace, Caemlyn
Elayne waits for Nynaeve and Vandene, annoyed that they are late but not surprised as Nynaeve is busy with the Kin and Vandene is consumed with finding her sister's killer. She decides to hire mercenaries and Hunters for the Horn, something Dyelin disapproves of, as does Birgitte, as mercenaries' loyalty and consistency cannot be counted on. Elayne explains that crime is rising and they need to keep it under control themselves now that the Saldaeans have left and the Aiel are leaving. She tells them that she wants the Guards built up to be the largest army in the land, something that appalls Dyelin as she worries that it could turn people against her. Again Elayne is forced to explain; if she does not fight, her opponents will anyway and she must be able to match them.
They are interrupted by the arrival of Renaile, Zaida and Merilille. Elayne tells them that she will see them later that day, but they refuse, both thinking that it is her they are trying to avoid. Zaida tells her she is to fulfil the terms of the bargain, giving them teachers in addition to Merilille. Elayne suggests they go to Tear to the Sea Folk gathered there instead, but they decline, with Zaida saying that she wants to wait in case Rand turns up. She suggests that some of the other Aes Sedai might teach, an idea that Merilille welcomes with enthusiasm. Elayne gives a noncommittal reply, saying that "Something may be worked out, if the Light pleases", which Zaida takes as an actual agreement.
Reene arrives to tell them that Mazrim Taim is there. Elayne is in the process of instructing her that he is to wait and be given the third best wine, when he walks into the room. She seizes saidar, as do the others, but Taim only notices the two Aes Sedai. Elayne insults him by calling him "Master Taim", but he is not baited, settling for calling her "Mistress Elayne" in response, which angers Dyelin. He tells her he has a gift for her. She tells him that she will ally with the Dragon Reborn in time, but that Andor is not a conquered nation and that if Rand objects she will deal with him. His mouth quirks and she realizes that calling Rand by his first name was an error. She complains about him walling in four miles of Andor for the Black Tower. She tells him she won't try to force her way in, but that she can isolate the Black Tower, so that the Asha'man must Travel to buy food. He is momentarily annoyed, but replies that as she can only control a small area, they wouldn't need to Travel far. He accedes to controlled visits, telling her he wouldn't want any accidents. She accepts this but before they can argue further, Nadere arrives to tell her it is time for the First Sister ceremony.
Elayne agrees to strip and Taim commands his Asha'man to turn round. She asks Nadere how they summoned Aviendha for the ceremony, as nudity would not have bothered her, but is told that that is for Aviendha to reveal. Once in the room where the ceremony is to take place, Monaelle takes charge. Viendre stands for Elayne's mother and Tamela for Aviendha's. Amys comes forward to accept the pangs of birth.
They are asked a series of questions by Monaelle and each of them answers:
1) What is the best you know of the other woman.
Elayne: "Aviendha is so confident, so proud, she doesn't care what anyone thinks she should do, or be; she is who she wants to be."
Aviendha: "Even when Elayne is so afraid that her mouth dries, her spirit will not bend. She is braver than anyone I have ever known."
Elayne is astonished that Aviendha could think that, but from Aviendha's own look, she is equally surprised. Viendra tells Elayne that courage is good, but that one day it will leave her weeping in the dust as her spine turns to jelly. She nods in agreement. Aviendha is told that she is totally controlled by ji'e'toh because she cares to her bones what everyone thinks of her. She agrees with this, but Elayne feels that this is twisting things.
2) They are then asked what they find worst in each other.
Elayne: "Aviendha...She...she thinks violence is always the answer. At times she won't think beyond her belt knife. At times she's like a boy who won't grow up!"
Aviendha: "Elayne knows that...She knows she is beautiful, knows the power it gives her over men. She exposes half her bosom sometimes in the open air and she smiles to make men do what she wants."
They are both offended, but mollified a little when the Wise Ones make them realize each also has the same weakness.
3) They are asked of the most childish thing in the other woman.
This is something that Elayne thinks is much easier to answer.
Elayne: "Aviendha won't let me teach her to swim. I've tried. She isn't afraid of anything except getting into more water than a bathtub."
Aviendha: "Elayne gobbles sweets with both hands like a child who escaped her mother's eye. If she keeps on she will be as fat as a pig before she grows old."
Monaelle seems amused by this, but neither Elayne nor Aviendha are.
4) Finally, they are asked what is their greatest jealousy of the other woman.
Elayne thinks about how she could have put forward minor jealousies, but Avhiendha's previous two answers have hardened her resolve
Elayne: "Aviendha has lain in the arms of the man I love. I never have; I may never and I could weep over it!"
Aviendha: "Elayne has the love of Rand al'Th...of Rand. My heart is dust for wanting him to love me, but I do not know if he ever will."
Aviendha is told to strike Elayne as hard as she can with her open hand and does so before Elayne has a chance to react. Elayne is then told to do the same and hits Aviendha hard, despite telling herself that she will not. They are then told to do the same with the other hand and they obey. After this, they are told that they may leave and that many do, but if they still wish to be first sisters, they should embrace, which they do, asking each other for forgiveness. Monaelle tells them that they will find themselves angry with each other in the future, but to remember that they have already struck one other. She also tells them that they will always have toh towards each other, as all first siblings do. She says they will be born again and Elayne feels saidar being woven and begins to lose sense of the world. When she regains it, she can feel the sense of Aviendha in her head, like the Warder bond in some ways, but unlike it in others.
Toveine's Point of View:
Setting: The Black Tower
Toveine wakes from a dream of strangling Elaida. She rises and heats water to wash, the only task for which she is allowed to channel. She leaves the house to be confronted by a group of the other Aes Sedai, who blame her for their capture. They had previously beaten her until Logain put a stop to it and ordered her to be Healed, which she resents. She estimates that there are five hundred men in training.
A group of Queen's guards passes by, led by Birgitte, on the visit that Taim has allowed them. She hears Elayne mentioned and thinks on how she doesn't want Elaida to get her. She feels that Logain has finished breakfast and that she is required and has to run to meet him, falling over and being bothered by dogs in the process. A woman pulls them away, telling her to get along and that she would prefer a cat, but they can't stand her husband now.
Outside, Logain's several Dedicated and soldiers are waiting. Gabrelle leaves the house and Toveine is startled to realize that she is the woman Logain was with the previous night. Gabrelle tells her it took two days to decide to "surrender" and four more to convince him to let her. She says it felt exhilarating, knowing Logain was stronger and in charge. The men start to make reports, such as who might be interested in the new Healing, possible trouble with the Two Rivers men and boys, and that Mishraile is having private lessons with Taim. Welyn Kajima arrives, out of breath, and tells them that Taim has put Flinn, Hopwil and Narishma as names on the deserter's list. The men are suspicious but concede that they might have been frightened off by the fighting.
Logain orders Toveine and Gabrelle inside, to her relief, as she does not like seeing the Traitor's Tree. Gabrelle tells her that Logain is the only full Asha'man to live in the village and that he found and burned her instructions that all the Asha'man were to be stilled and hanged where they were found. She also says that there are at least two factions, Taim's and Logain's, and men who don't even know there are factions. Gabrelle suggests that they submit to Desandre as the only way of keeping the group of captured Aes Sedai united.
Rand's Point of View:
Setting: Cairhien Academy
Rand discusses the attack on the palace with Dobraine and is told that many fear that Rand has gone mad. Dobraine tells him that Ailil Riatin and a Sea Folk official are missing, and Rand tells him that Cadsuane has them. He looks out the window and sees Poel's steamwagon, which has come a long way since he first saw a smaller prototype. Idrien tells him of the other things people are making, sceptical of most of them, but Rand is keen. He gives Dobraine a document, naming him Steward in Cairhein, as well as others that name Darlin the Steward in Tear and Gregorin in Illian. Min arrives from Herid Fel's rooms, with a stack of books on philosophy. Outside, Rand weaves a gateway and they Travel five hundred miles from Cairhien. She tells him she has figured out he is laying false trails and that he intends to do something with a sa'angreal. He replies that he intends to cleanse the male half of the Source, but that first he will deal with the men who attacked him.