Disclaimer: Not mine, any of it.
I'm afraid that if you hoped this was going anywhere interesting, you will be sorely disappointed...because this is now a Wheel of Time crossover in honor of the imminent release of A Memory of Light. Yesss...let me feel your anger.
Also, I received my first flame! My 326th overall review, which was left on this story. I feel like a real author now!
Lastly, despite the character's name, this is not a sequel to A Curse of Truth. This story was written alongside it, and Lerner was meant to be a similar character. However, I actually have 10k words of a sequel written due to a surprise plot bunny attack (I'm actually quite excited by it, and have a good portion of the plot written out), but based on the way Harry Silvertongue is coming along (i.e. slowly), I find I don't much like this serial posting style. So it could be a while before you see it, though I don't think it'll be another 200k word novel.
A Summoning Gone Awry
Chapter Two: The Second Summoning
"I don't mean to sound heartless, Harry, but we could very easily lose the rest of the day talking about parallel pasts and potential futures," Cho said, speaking for the first time around their visitor.
That fact, apparently, did not go unnoticed. Lerner's blue-green eyes snapped to her and he gave her a big, white smile that was a little too reminiscent of a certain incredibly annoying charlatan posing as a Defense Professor some years back. "My apologies, Miss Chang," he said slowly, adding a bow. "Am I holding something up?"
Harry tried not to bristle at the man's obvious flirting. "We were going to do this at least twice more," he said, keeping his voice even.
"For our first attempt at the ritual we used very little power," Hermione said in a clipped tone. Harry noted she was a little less successful at keeping the annoyance out of her voice.
That also did not go unnoticed. Lerner blinked, then studied the five students intently, one at a time. As Harry returned his inquisitive eyes with a challenging look, Lerner's eyes widened and then he threw his head back in laughter. "Harry, you dog!" This brought a blush to all five of them. "Nicely done...very nice! I don't think it's terribly fair you get four beautiful witches all to yourself in my own dream, but damn me to hell if you don't deserve it."
He laughed again at the five shocked faces.
"And I'm glad you have your head on straight in this universe, Hermione," he added with a wink.
"What do you mean by that?" She asked, eyes wide.
"Trust me, you do not want to know the answer to that question," Lerner said with an exaggerated shudder. "Anyway, you guys were going to try this thing again, right? I wanna see before I wake up." Then he blushed a deep crimson. "Uh...I mean, if I can, you know...if it's that kind of ritual..."
"It's not!" Hermione said quickly, suddenly realizing why Lerner was blushing. Luna started laughing loudly as the other four joined Lerner in his blushing.
"Of course you're all very...uh, I mean..not that I would mind...okay, let's just forget I started talking. When are you guys going to do it again? The ritual, I mean the ritual! Oh god, please don't Reducto me into a thousand pieces!"
Luna doubled over with laughter by this point while the others continued to blush furiously.
"I'm going to go stick my foot in my mouth over in the corner, don't mind me," the man said, spinning around to hide his red face.
"We're not going to 'Reducto you into a thousand pieces,' Lerner," Hermione said quickly, "why would you even say that?"
"Hey, this might be a dream but I was still scared," the man said honestly. "I didn't want to be on the wrong end of a Stinging Hex...or something worse if you're darker than the versions of you that I know about. I have a low tolerance for pain."
"It's not a dream, and if it was maybe a Stinging Hex would wake you up," Padma pointed out.
"I already pinched myself hard enough to hurt, and that didn't work," he said. "So if it's all the same to you I'd rather not find out. Plus I'm interested to see who my subconscious decides you will summon this time."
"For the last time—" Hermione began, but Harry cut her off.
"Never mind that for now Hermione, let's just go ahead and try again."
The four girls students bent to examine the pentagram as Lerner looked on, apparently rubbing his beard in thought. A thought occurred to Harry, and he looked at the newcomer with interest. "Lerner," he said finally, deciding to take the plunge. The man seemed to know all of his secrets anyway, why not one of his current ones?
After a few moments he tore his gaze from the pentagram – and the four girls, Harry was sure – with an inquisitive expression. "Hmm?"
"I was wondering if you knew about a task the headmaster gave to me earlier. He's been showing me various memories of his relating to Tom Riddle..." Harry stopped as a flash of recognition played across the older man's face. "You know about it?"
He nodded. "Professor Slughorn's memory?"
Harry let out an amused breath. "That's it."
Lerner frowned. "Nasty business, that. If I recall correctly, Riddle asked Slughorn about a piece of rare magic, didn't he?"
Harry nodded eagerly. "And the memory was altered so we couldn't hear what it was."
The man tilted his head back and let out a deep breath. "You understand I'd rather not be the one to tell you about this. In fact, if you have Felix Felicis you can get Slughorn to tell you himself."
Hermione made a choking sound at that. "Of course, Harry, why didn't we think of that?" Harry was stunned.
Lerner waved their worries away. "No matter, I can tell you. The magical item Riddle asked about is called a Horcrux. It's kind of odd that Dumbledore doesn't know that..." He cocked his head back and knitted his brows as he trailed off. "Although now that I think about it, I would guess that he does know, but he doesn't want to admit it."
"What is it?" Hermione asked. Neither she nor the other three young women are even looking at the pentagram now.
Lerner shook his head. "It is literally the darkest magic I know. Darker than the Killing Curse itself. It's the reason Riddle is even here, instead of a pile of ash scattered to the wind back on Halloween 1981: a Horcrux is an anchor of the soul to this plane of existence. It's also the reason Dumbledore's hand is blackened: he destroyed one of Riddle's."
"One of his?" Harry asked, goggling.
"One of seven," Lerner said with a grimace. "But look, now's not the time for this discussion. Like Miss Chang said, we can easily waste the entire day on stuff like this. You can always interrogate me later."
"Do you know the items?" Hermione pressed.
The man flinched. "I do, and the locations of most of them. But please don't ask me any more right now. If you'll recall I do prefer pleasant dreams, and this pentagram is most interesting. Tell me, Hermione, how important is the radial symmetry?"
From the expression on the bushy-haired Ravenclaw's face, she clearly fought an internal battle between rooting out and teaching information. Teaching won, barely, since the man had begged off sharing his own. "It's critical, actually, to synchronize the flow of magic to each rune..."
"Let me stop you there for a moment, Hermione," Luna interrupted. "Let's get Harry charging and then you can discuss this along the way. As far as I can tell, we're ready now."
Lerner bowed his head and backed away to allow the five to take their positions. Soon enough they were linked, and Harry's wand was pressed against the naud siphon. He quickly accelerated the charging flow, and at Luna's white-eyed command, backed off from the resonance. As soon as Luna's Sight was canceled, Hermione and Lerner tried to talk at the same time.
The man quickly apologized. "Sorry, what were you going to say?"
She shook her head and smiled. "No, you first, I'd rather start where you want."
"Well, I was curious when you started talking about flow and resonance. It's not quite my specialty but it sounds an awful lot like an engineering problem I'm familiar with."
Hermione launched into a lively explanation of their earlier discussion, including the effect of opening the elemental gates.
Lerner was left shaking his head. "Yuck, I wouldn't even know how to begin modeling that without being able to measure this magical flow rate, or even understanding what it means for magic to flow. Is there some fundamental particle like a photon or an electron? A magiton, perhaps? A thaumaton? What are its properties? My instinct tells me that Harry should be able to jump past the resonance, but we're missing some really basic pieces of knowledge to determine that, and I'd rather prove that on paper first." Lerner rubbed his beard a moment before his eyes lit up again. "One thing you might be able to try without altering your pentagram is either lowering or raising the temperature. Of the magic itself would be best...if magic even has a temperature, that is. If you can't do it to the magical particles themselves, it still might help to do it to the stone and the air near the pentagram"
Hermione's eyes glazed over at the implications.
"Uh oh, Harry, I think we might have some competition," Padma said with a grin.
"It's the idea she loves, not him," Harry grumbled. "Er, no offense, Lerner."
The newcomer laughed his easy laugh once again. It was getting difficult not to like the man. "None taken. She's a bit young for me, and it won't matter when I wake up, anyway." It was easy to get annoyed with him insisting this is a dream, though.
Since they had a long way to go, Hermione began directing the experiments. Harry couldn't figure out what it meant to change the temperature of magic before he pushed it out, so they tried both cooling and heating the stones and air. Lerner had suggested two additional experiments: heating one and cooling the other. Heating them both, it turned out, offered the largest increase, but they had to be careful not to do it enough that it would damage the runes. Luna estimated an increase in the charging rate of ten percent at their chosen temperature.
After a short while, Lerner excused himself, stood up and when over to the comfortable chairs and flipped through a book. It wasn't long before his head had drooped onto his chest, dozing.
"He's going to be surprised when he wakes up still in his dream," Padma said with a quiet chuckle.
"You're all just as bad as he is," Hermione huffed.
"It's a defense mechanism, Hermione," Luna said softly, "he's a logical man, and what we did to him is anything but."
Hermione paled at the reprimand. "I didn't think of that. Oh no, Luna, what did we do? Think about what we've taken him from! He doesn't have anybody here at all!"
"We've got the reversal ritual here, Hermione," Padma said.
"But we've never used it before! We don't even know it will work! We accidentally pulled him from another year and, he says, another universe, so what if we can't send him back to that point? What if we do send him back and he ends up in a completely different time? We might have ruined his life!"
"It will work, Hermione," Luna said. "The magic knows from whence he came. It will take him back."
The link buzzed with the clash of certainty versus disbelief and worry.
"Maybe we should make sure he is as happy as possible while he's here, just in case," Cho said in an attempt to alleviate Hermione's concern. It had the opposite effect, and at Hermione's horror, Cho blushed furiously red. "Not like that! I just meant don't make him talk about uncomfortable things all the time. And obviously he doesn't have magic, so we'll keep him away from danger."
"It'll be okay, Hermione," Harry soothed. "He knows who we are. Well, sort of. But he likes us and wants to help. I don't know what kind of people we expected to summon, but despite being a Muggle, he might end up being the most valuable. He knows more than Dumbledore about defeating Voldemort!"
Hermione's initial panic had faded and turned completely to thoughtfulness. "I'm not entirely sure he is a Muggle."
"What?" Padma asked, taken aback. "But it didn't take much energy to bring him here."
"It's just a thought. Hogwarts is protected by wards well beyond our understanding, and I'm surprised they even allow him to be here. We'll have to do some testing."
"I don't know that he'd appreciate being an experimental subject," Luna said.
Hermione smiled. "He's some kind of scientist where he's from. I bet he'll be enthusiastic about it."
"What would you be willing to bet?" Cho asked with a raised eyebrow.
Embarrassment flooded through the link.
"Cho...there are other people present!" Hermione whispered heatedly, glancing at the odd, slumbering man.
"He said he wouldn't mind watching," Luna said with a suggestive smile.
"Luna! He did not say that, he was just embarrassed!"
Padma tried unsuccessfully to hide a laugh. "You are so adorable, Hermione."
"Harry, you can speed it back up, you know," Luna said.
Harry started when she addressed him and flushed when he realized he'd not kept up the pace. "Sorry, I was a bit distracted, after all. Honestly, how am I supposed to concentrate when you all do that?"
"Why, whatever do you mean?" Padma asked, fluttering her eyelids at him.
Harry shook his head and chuckled. "You do want to get through thing again sometime this week, don't you?"
In response she pouted at him.
"Thank you, Harry," Hermione said, "now let's get back to it, shall we?"
The five of them fell into silence, and then into a sort of meditative trance as the thurs runes glowed brighter and brighter. A spike of emotion in the link quickly snapped them all back into awareness.
"I'm starting to get quite a bit of resistance, here," Harry said worriedly.
"Open the elemental gates," Luna said quickly, eyes wide. They did so, using the same synchronized motions as before as Harry pushed magic through them.
"Continue charging?" Hermione asked, concern once again leaking into the link.
"Might as well go for broke," Harry said, placing the tip of his holly and phoenix feather wand back on the siphoning rune.
"Sight, please, Harry," Luna said.
"How are we doing?" he asked, once he had activated it.
"Leaking a bit more at this high of a charge," she replied, "but not nearly enough to overcome what you're putting into it."
He nodded, having come to the same conclusion based on the feel of it. "How much is in there?"
The diminutive blonde fell silent for a moment. "More than you've got by yourself already, and that's without accounting for what goes into the shield, disruptor field, and leakage."
Harry's shock ricocheted through the link. "That's impossible!"
"It's not," Hermione cut in, milk chocolate eyes alight. "I've been thinking about what you said, Luna, that the magic knows. Aristotle once observed in certain natural phenomena that the whole is not the sum of its parts, and magic is one of those things. Magic is an emergent system, or at least exhibits emergent behaviors. I think we are – partially, at least – drawing on magic that none of us can access separately!"
"The power he knows not..." Harry said, eyes wide.
She nods excitedly. "Exactly! Riddle could never know this power, because he would never trust or love anybody enough to form a link. Dumbledore was right all along, Harry!"
"Even if he was just guessing," he grumbled, but the excitement flowing through the link was too contagious, so he had to smile at her. "Brilliant as always, my Heart."
Hermione beamed at both his smile and the pride she felt through the link. Out of his peripheral vision, Harry saw Lerner making his way back over, rubbing his eyes.
"Welcome back, Lerner," Harry said, so the Padma and Cho wouldn't get frightened when the older man appeared behind them.
Lerner approached the pentagram with wide albeit tired eyes. "I'm still here, I see."
"Yes," Hermione said uncertainly.
The older man grunted but dropped the subject, making the others wonder if he was starting to come around. Feelings of sadness and pity flowed through the link. "How is it going?"
"Well enough," Hermione said. "We should be ready for the final step soon."
"Six minutes," Luna said, her white eyes turned toward him.
He started when he saw them. "Wow, Luna, that's freaky with the eyes. They weren't like that a little bit ago, were they?"
"No, this is my family's version of Mage Sight," she explained. "I inherited it from my mother's—do you not know this?"
The man's surprised and impressed expression answered for him. "I did not. What does it do?"
"It lets me see magic," she said simply.
"I can see the glow," Lerner said, gesturing to the rune circle.
"Actually, magical radiation can emit wavelengths far outside the range of visible light," Hermione said. "Mage Sight allows her to perceive most of, if not the entire range of magical wavelengths. Luna's version is a familial ability: it takes less magic and can see more than the ritual-provided ability."
The man looked thoughtful for a moment, then his face lit up. "Riddle's glowing red eyes."
Hermione smiled. "Just so. Like I said, though, Luna's is better...actually, you probably know about Professor Moody: Luna's Sight has much of the same functionality, except of course the ability to spin her eyes in any direction."
"Wow, that's awesome, Luna," he said excitedly. "Can you see through Harry's Invisibility Cloak?"
"I can," she said.
The man grinned. "Can you see through his clothes?"
"Lerner!" Hermione scolded.
"That I cannot do," Luna said calmly. "I can see through magic, and since disillusionment and invisibility cloaks are made invisible by magic, I can see through them. Clothing – even conjured or enchanted clothing – is neither made of magic nor invisible."
"I see, what about—"
"Sorry to interrupt, but I'm hitting the limit again," Harry said.
Luna's white eyes snapped back to the pentagram. "Now! Open the central gates!"
Lerner stumbled back at the intense magic raging through the pentagram, but the students stood their ground. Concern roared through the link, but nobody dared speak at the risk of breaking Harry's concentration.
Harry once again performed the chant, ignoring the gaping Muggle. "Evocatio!"
The same Apparition type pop was heard, except it was louder. No, Harry decided, it sounded like it echoed, which means there were two pops, one right after the other.
A powerful gust of wind almost immediately blew the smoke away, revealing a tall, red-haired man in a strange red coat with his sleeves pushed up to reveal strange, angry looking tattoos on his arms. This man was the same height, if not slightly taller than Lerner, and it was clear he was much stronger physically. And, unless Harry was mistaken, he radiated magical power, only, strangely, he appeared to have been crying recently. Next to him stood a much shorter brunette woman whose clothing – specifically, her lack thereof – completely halted all of Harry's brain functions.
The red-headed newcomer, a teenager perhaps only slightly older than he, Harry realized, caught Harry's expression and followed his eyes, only to have the same reaction as Harry.
Lerner coughed, snapping everybody out of their daze. "Would one of you lend the lady a coat, please?" Harry realized the Muggle was turned away, but what part of his face was visible was thoroughly red.
Hermione was the first to recover, quickly stripping off the top layer of her robe and trying to hand it to the woman.
Unfortunately, the rather regal-looking albeit nude woman made no move to take it.
Hermione cleared her throat. "Sorry Miss, but would you...er—?
"Mwa—" the redhead began, but the woman cut him off.
"Mistress Alys," the woman said in introduction, finally accepting the robe.
"I'm Hermione, and around you is Luna, Cho, Padma, Harry, and Lerner over there in the back."
"Uh...Wil. Wil Al'Seen," the redhead said, then he turned to Alys. "This feels different from the other visions, Mw—istress Alys. I am myself, but this doesn't look like Rhu—."
"I see," the woman cut him off cryptically.
Suddenly Lerner started laughing again. "Oh, this is too good. This is too good!"
"What?" Hermione asked, but the bizarre Muggle didn't hear her, he just doubled over and then sat there laughing.
"Is he...mad?" the redhead asked uncomfortably. The woman's eyes snapped to him.
"Er, the five of us summoned him here, and he doesn't believe this is real," Hermione explained.
"And you summoned us?" Alys asked, eyebrow raised.
Hermione gulped at the woman's expression and nodded.
Lerner spoke through his fits and spasms of laughter. "So you guys were at Rhuidean, were you?"
The two newcomers immediately spun toward Lerner, who laughed again.
"Oh, this is too good," he said again, smiling broadly. "Well, I'm glad you aren't gone yet, Moiraine Sedai."
Suddenly Lerner's arms snapped to his sides and he was lifted off the ground, despite neither of the newcomers lifting so much as an arm, let alone a wand. "How do you know that name?" The woman's mellifluous voice was similar to Luna's, except deeper and more commanding. Harry decided she must be in charge between the two of them.
"Put him—!" Hermione began.
"Stop, Hermione!" Lerner said, before turning back to the newcomers. "We are not enemies, Aes Sedai."
Harry gaped at the Muggle. "You know them, too," he blurted out.
Alys—no, Moiraine, looked back. "You don't know this man?"
"We didn't, but he knew us," Hermione said. "Please, let him down, he has no magic."
"Magic is for street performers and charlatans," Wil said.
"They mean channeling, Rand," Lerner said, still suspended in the air. "I will never feel the taint of saidin."
Wil—no, Rand, started at that. Lerner yelped as he fell to the floor, then picked himself up. "Thank you, Moiraine Sedai."
The woman stared at him. "How?"
"He's from the future," Luna said. "I saw him wrapped in those yellow strands, but what was that colorful ball you put around him?"
This widened Moiraine's eyes, the most emotion she had shown yet. "You can see the flows?"
Luna tapped her temple with her wand. "Not anymore."
"I see," the woman said slowly, studying Luna. After a few moments, she returned her gaze to Lerner. "What did she mean, from the future?"
"Ah, well for you guys it would be the distant past, I guess. Or the distant future, if the Ages cycle like you think. I'm not sure which one we're in now, but it's neither in the Second nor the Third Age." Lerner scratches his head. "Let me see if I can remember. Wasn't there a myth about Merkin and Mosk and lances of fire? Something about a Queen Elsbet...oh yeah! How about Lenn and flying to the moon?"
"Gleeman's tales," Moiraine said flatly.
"No, that's where we are. Queen Elsbet is actually Queen Elizabeth, who is currently their queen. John Glenn is an astronaut, though he wasn't the one that flew to the moon. Merkin and Mosk refers to countries: America and the Soviet Union – whose capital city is Moscow – who nearly fought a war with enormous missiles that can fly thousands of miles in a matter of hours. Missiles are like fireworks, except they can be loaded with explosives that can wipe out entire cities as sure as Rand holding Callandor, except it would be done completely without the One Power." Lerner looked back at the Hogwarts students, most of whom are gaping openly. "And not their magic either, which I guess might be the same as yours, I can't really say, since I can do neither." He scratched his head, seemingly oblivious to the stares. "At least, I don't think I can. Rand, you haven't learned to test other men for the ability to channel, do you?"
"Why would any other men want to channel?" Rand asked, horrified.
The other man waved the question away. "We're in the past, right? Or the future, I guess. The Dark One doesn't taint saidin until the end of the Second Age, and then you cleanse it when..." Lerner's eyes bulged and suddenly he had a coughing fit.
"What?" Rand asked, his eyes bulging as well. "What did you say?"
"Ah, you caught that, huh?" Lerner chuckled uncomfortably. "Well, you cleanse it – you and Nynaeve – using the Choedan Kal. You found the access ter'angreal in Rhuidean, didn't you?"
"Rand, is this true?" Moiraine asked.
"No, I didn't see anything like that," Rand insisted.
"Oh, damn...uh, well that's where they are," Lerner said. "I hate to break it to you but I'm pretty sure you fight Asmodean there, but if it's any consolation you win and Lanfear helps you out."
"What?" Moiraine blurted out.
Harry chuckled. That's definitely the most emotion she had shown yet. "Yeah, Lerner does tend to get that reaction."
The thin-bearded man grimaced, though. "Yeah, sorry Moiraine, I know a little bit of what you saw when you went to see the Aelfinn, or Eelfinn, I can't remember which."
Moiraine paled, apparently she'd completely lost her composure by then.
"You don't die, at least, you just...uh...disappear for a while. Are captured, actually. If it helps, Lanfear kicks the bucket, though of course the Dark One being the Dark One, she is brought back."
In the shocked silence, Hermione recovered. "Who is this Dark One you keep talking about, Lerner?"
The man grimaced. "He, or it, is like Riddle except way worse. Actually, the Christian name for the concept is Satan, which is awfully close to their name for it, which you can't say without having bad things happen to you." Lerner quickly held his hand up to stave off Hermione's objection. "No, Hermione, in case you didn't know, Riddle has placed a curse on the his made-up name that everybody is afraid to say. It's not just fear: the curse gives him a rough idea of where the person is that said it. It's how you and Harry get caught by his henchman once in the future, because you are only ones who say it."
Harry was so stricken by this he almost didn't hear the next question between the newcomers. "What else can you tell us?" Rand asked.
Lerner snorted. "I could fill over a dozen books on that subject." Then he howled with laughter for some reason.
"Where are the other Forsaken?" Moiraine asked loudly, killing the man's laughter.
"Ah, you sure know how to ruin a man's fun, Aes Sedai. I don't know the answer to all of those questions. It's confusing because the Dark One keeps bringing them back unless you use balefire. So let's see, Asmodean and Lanfear are with you guys in the Aiel Waste."
"What?" Rand interrupted.
"Oh yeah, they're disguised among the merchants. I'd recommend not confronting them when you wake up, because you beat Asmodean and then Lanfear restricts his ability to channel and he teaches you stuff. Although, personally I think you should pretend to come on to Lanfear and balefire the shit out of her while she's distracted. She wants old LTT somethin' fierce, in case you haven't figured that out."
"Lews Therin Telamon, the Dragon," Lerner said. "You know, the voice you hear in your head every once in a while?"
Moiraine's eyes snapped to him, and Rand flushed with embarrassment.
"No need to be embarrassed, Rand, I'm pretty sure he's just a personality you've created to house all of his memories until you can assimilate them. Let's just say I'm glad these guys got you now instead of after some of the crap you have to go through. Although, it would have been nice to get Ninja Jesus Rand after you figure it all out. By then you can Travel, weave Arrows of Fire and Death Gates...um, I forget what else. Although I should tell you that you need to keep Mazrim Taim on a tight leash when you meet him and start bringing in male channelers. Taim is so obviously a darkfriend and for some stupid reason you leave him in charge of the Black Tower."
"Black Tower?" Moiraine asked.
"Oh yeah," Lerner said jovially, "Rand will start collecting male channelers, then he cleanses saidin. If he wouldn't leave a future dreadlord in charge, they'd be quite a force."
Moiraine raised an eyebrow at Rand as if to scold him in advance. "What will the Amyrlin think about that?"
Lerner rubbed his chin. "Well, they won't be terribly happy, I can tell you that."
"They? What happens to Siuan?"
Lerner winced. "Nasty business, that. She is illegally deposed and stilled, and the White Tower splits into two factions for a short time. I guess that brings us back to your original question: where are the Forsaken. One of the Sitters that deposes Siuan is...um...Danelle, I think. There's so damn many of you that I can't keep your names straight. She's pretending to be a Brown, acts sort of dreamy, taps her lips when she thinks. But it's really Mesaana."
The blood drains from the woman's face, but Lerner presses on.
"Now who else? Let's see, Rahvin is in Caemlyn. He has Morgase under his thrall, or he is going to very soon. Sammael is in...Illian, I think. Graendal is in a place called Natrin's Barrow, but I can't remember where that is. She doesn't really do much on her own. Semirhage is with the Seanchan. I actually have no idea where Demandred is, maybe Shara or up in the Blight. I just know he leaves you alone for a long time. Moghedien is slinking around as usual, but she'll be captured by Elayne and Egwene. Who am I forgetting?"
"You said the Dark one brings back the ones we don't kill with balefire," Moiraine said. "That leaves Ishamael, Aginor, and Balthamel."
"Ah, Ishamael comes back as Moridin. I'm not sure when you'll see him, but he actually helps Rand out once or twice. Aginor and Balthamel come back as Aran'gar and Osan'gar. That's not respectively, I can't remember which comes back as which. Osan'gar is one of the male channelers that joins Rand early on and tries to kill him. Aran'gar is actually a woman that channels saidin, believe it or not. She'll infiltrate the Rebel Tower and pose as Halima, a servant of one of the Rebel Aes Sedai."
"This is...difficult to believe," Moiraine said, shaking her head.
"Well, believe it, sis. Speaking of infiltrators, you've got a ton of them in your White Tower even before the split. Sheriam, for one. I know of another but she's a double agent that's collecting names, so I won't disclose who. She's going to deliver the names of something like eighty darkfriends to the Amyrlin."
Moiraine eyed him for several moments before speaking. "Verin."
Lerner's look of shock is quickly replaced with a grin. "Ah yes, you caught her in a lie, didn't you? I believe she told Rand that you sent her way back in...uh, before Mat used the Horn of Valere. Anyway, Verin is one of the bravest damned Aes Sedai you've got, so don't interfere. If I recall correctly she was helping Perrin out in the Two Rivers when you left. Perrin and Mat do just fine, by the way, though make sure you get Mat out of that tree when you wake up, Rand."
"Avendesora or whatever it's called. Mat went to see the 'finn, and they sent him back out with a medallion that protects him from the One Power, a spear, and a noose around his neck, the bastards. You're supposed to find him when you get out of the Aiel Wayback Machine and rescue him." Rand shared a long look with Moiraine, and Harry supposed they were trying to figure out exactly how much of this should be believed.
Cho decided to speak for the first time into the confused silence that followed. "If our time is nothing but a myth where they're from, how do you know about what they're doing, Lerner?"
"And don't say magic," Hermione cut in, turning Lerner's impending response into a grin.
"I won't then. Same reason I know what you're doing." He laughed inanely at that. "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, right Aes Sedai?"
"Why do you keep calling her that?" Hermione asked.
"That is what they call themselves instead of wizards and witches. In fact, witch is used as a pejorative for them." Then Lerner's eyes widened. "Actually, we have legends of them, as well. The Aes Sidhe, a group of magical beings that have power that rival the gods or something like that. See, it's not everyday you get to meet people straight out of your own myths." For some reason Lerner found that hilarious, too.
"You are a bizarre man," Moiraine said.
"I must be, to have dreams like this. Not that I regret it terribly, at this point. You are quite beautiful, Moiraine Damodred Aes Sedai."
Coordinated forehead slaps by the two other males in the room slightly preceded Lerner being lifted off the floor and threatened with a fireball.
"Why were you...erm...that is..." Hermione started, trying to distract the woman.
"Most of their rituals are done 'clad in the Light,'" Lerner said with a grin from his precarious position. "Of course, that's only the women for some reason."
"You are surprisingly calm given your situation," Padma said, speaking for the first time since the newcomers arrived.
"Ah, yes. Well, Rand there could hit me with that fireball, but Moiraine is Bound by Oath not to unless her life is threatened. She only got this far because she believes that she's not harming me." He gasped for some reason. "Okay! I'm sorry! I won't call you beautiful again."
"You are a glutton for punishment, aren't you?" Rand said with a laugh. "You think she would let you get away with an empty promise like that?"
Lerner coughed. "I won't comment on your physical beauty again until you release me from my oath."
Moiraine let out a breath. "I suppose that is acceptable."
Rand grinned at the other man when he is dropped to the floor a second time. "Are you sure you're not Aes Sedai?"
I looked it up and the legend mentioned in The Great Hunt is actually about the giants Mosk and Merk. But I went with what I thought I remembered, and this way I get to allude to the real meaning of the word "merkin."
This is the last chapter I have written completely, and likely the last one that will be posted for the foreseeable future. So take that! Oops, I mean, what do you think of that? I will tell you I had the idea that they would Summon one more person from yet another universe, but I never planned much beyond that. I just figured I'd put something up here to remind you all that I'm still alive and still writing.
Runes and how I use them:
Thurs - power rune - stores magical energy
Ansuz - control rune - controls flow of magical energy
Naud - siphoning rune - pulls magical energy from the one touching it
Isaz - stabilizing rune - stabilizes power runes to avoid leakage of magical energy
Algiz - rune of protection - forms a protective barrier
Mannaz - spirit rune
Laguz - water rune
Ingwaz - air rune
Odal - earth rune
Dagaz - fire rune
Hagal - rune of disruption
Reid - rune of travel - paired with hagal and fed with the five elements, opens portals to other realities
Tyr - male rune
Beorc - female rune
Uruz - not used yet
Kenaz - not used yet
Gifu - not used yet
Wynja - not used yet
Jara - not used yet
Pertho - not used yet
Eoh - not used yet
Sig - not used yet
Ehwaz - not used yet