Disclaimer: I do not own the Wheel of time. I do not intend to make any money from writing this. It is written for my own enjoyment.
A/N: Please enjoy responsibly.
Six of Seven.
The being that called itself Shai'tan screamed in frustration. The universe trembled. He had offered his compromise, his promise, his gift and he had been spurned. The Adversary had denied him.
He had shown the worst of what he would do. The inevitability. Proven the fallacy behind even the most private dreams of the foe in this turning and still, when he had shown bliss, an end to the struggle, the human resisted. Denied. Humbled. Even after he had lowered himself so.
The being raged as the one now called al'Thor moved back into the pattern and collided with the Nae'Blis, pushing him aside.
As Moridin threw his knife, Shai'tan moved against the Wheel once more, strained to dislodge it, break it, discard it. Cracks showed along the surface of that which had brought him into existence, eons ago, that which wove the pattern and protected it from him. He moved into those fractures, so tiny, so vast, and strained to widen them. His essence moved into the pattern where the cracks touched and threads withered and died.
The Wheel buckled, twisted, but then held. It turned in its gigantic rut, relentlessly. He roared and attacked yet more fissures, more factures, only for his shadow to be expelled yet again.
He raged as Moridin turned the glowing blade crimson and Shai'tan gave him access to everything. If he could not destroy the Wheel he would remake what The Other had fashioned, what had created him in its need for balance. He would bring the endless night. The nevermorning. And when all the voices of humanity sang as one to the heavens for it to be over, for the end, The Other would finally take pity and help him unmake what had been foolishly wrought. And he would finally return to oblivion.
The trap sprang. The mind of the Nae'Blis was destroyed as the Adversary pulled torrents of the True Power through him that no mortal mind was meant to handle, aided or no.
Shai'tan recoiled. In desperation he tried to stop the flow of the True Power into Moridin but it was too immense, too powerful. In a burst of light that burned, the Dragon reached for him with Saidin and Saidar, shielded by his own essence, and seized hold. Clutching him, constricting him and suffocating him.
The final seals around the opening to his prison broke and with a shriek that shook the heavens he brought his full strength to bare against what the Dragon wove. The impossible weaves of powers that were the antithesis of each other, yet now woven for common purpose, shook but held. And the being known as Shai'tan knew defeat.
'I HAVE BEEN DELAYED AGAIN,' he admitted as…as. He paused. As Rand al'Thor pulled him into the pattern itself, connecting him via both powers. And the one man called the Dark One laughed.
He laughed so hard he trembled.
The Adversary began taunting him but he hardly paid any attention to the fool that didn't understand he couldn't break the Wheel of Time by himself. Only a greater power could break a power. He needed either the Dragons or The Others aid. Failing converting the Dragon, tormenting The Others creations for eternity was the only way to achieve that.
No he didn't pay him any attention because the one named al'Thor had done what he himself could not. He had circumvented one of the rules of the Wheel. Shai'tan had access to the pattern through the Adversary himself, linked as they were. Limited to those around the foe, limited in time to what al'Thor unknowingly granted.
He reached through the breach to the three around al'Thor. They convulsed as he then reached through them to their threads in the pattern. Threads that were interwoven tightly time and again with the golden threads of Ta'veren, and followed the threads back to their first point of intersection, to the node.
And from the node rewove their lives.
He laughed harder as he saw moving these threads moved the golden ones. He was giving men a small taste of what it would be like, as for the first time, if only in a small way, Shai'tan rewove the pattern.
Al'Thor seemed to notice what was occurring at the same time he realised his freedoms with the weavings were restricted. The Wheel still turned and imposed its laws. None of the threads he held could be eradicated, or how could he be holding them now, at this point in time of the Wheel? A paradox he would have eliminated, but he wove within the Wheel, not with him released and the Wheel dominated.
Al'Thor was moving, pushing him back with horror etched on his face. Fighting the Wheel as it tried to impose balance on what he wove, Shai'tan worked as quickly as he could, searching the multitude of variations, actions and reactions from the Wheel, for the weave that imposed as much as his will as possible on the pattern. The defeated foe flung out his remaining hand to throw him back into the abyss, but too late.
An Instant before been expelled, he connected his desired weave to the Wheel. It paused for the barest fraction of an second, examining what he had woven, making changes, corrections, imposing balances, the last on him most of all, then took up the weaving of his new reality. He saw the price the Wheel demanded for the changes he had made, much smaller than he had anticipated and decided he would pay them gladly for this new chance.
That was until he looked back to the fading vision on the other side of the breach, at the dying reality, and saw the women on her knees, screaming as she looked at the brilliantly glowing sapphire ring on her finger.
He howled as six of the seven seals slid back into place.
The wind tore down the cavern, slipping through all the unseen places, into every nook, every crevice, punishing, unpredictable and violent. Even hidden by the outcrop of rocks near the wall it still pulled at her, pulled her toward that vast nothingness with its high pitched wail. The essence of the Dark One, the beast without remorse, devoured everything that came in contact with it.
Everything but Rand.
The last Nynaeve had seen from where she huddled he had stood impervious in front of the maw. Arms raised, Moridin at his feet, Callandor burning a violent red. He had pulled Saidar through her then, the most she could draw even with her angreal, and then impossibly had pulled more. And the light had come.
It had burst from Rand with such intensity, and had caused such searing pain, that she initially feared she had been blinded. Brighter than the sun, more brilliant than the one power itself, it shot out of the cavern and heavenward. It cast no shadows, merely moved through any object in its way. It visibly thrummed in the air and she could feel its vibrations as it passed through her.
Now she was on her knees panting, eyes unfocused, the wind attacking her from behind, the light buffering her in return, pushing her away from the darkness. Saidar poured through her, an ocean pounding along a river bed. 'Oh light, please no more.' The thought was lazy, taking an age to form. 'I can't take much more.' A tear fell from one of her eyes, landing on the back of her left hand.
She blinked away the moisture and looked for Moiraine. She could feel her there in the link, in the back of her mind, a muffled ball of exhaustion and pain. She was further back in the cavern, where she had been the whole time, arms and legs wrapped tightly around the same stalagmite. Except now Nynaeve could see the sweat plastering her hair to her head, the uneven breathing, and the tightly closed eyes. An involuntary groan escaped her lips. 'Light she's worse than I am'. She had to do something. She had herbs in her pouches that could help.
Quickly making the decision she moved from her place of safety. Back against the wall she half crawled, half dragged herself toward Moiraine. Clutching at jagged rocks for purchase, and sending a silent pray to the Creator for each new handhold, she moved carefully, albeit slowly.
Over halfway she reached out her left hand and grabbed a particularly sharp piece of rock, she set her feet in new groves and heaved. At the same instant the ter'angreal on her right hand went cold. The sapphire ring that grows cold in the presence of hostility. In the space of less than a heartbeat it went from cool, to ice, and then to something that made her realise she had never understood what cold really was. It burned.
Terrified she looked back over her shoulder. Out of the light slipped three black snakelike tendrils of mist. They paused, as if contemplating, and then she watched in dismay as they began to move. The first lurched back into the light and for an instant she saw Moridin's shadow picked up and then crumple to the floor.
The second flew down the cavern and she didn't even have time to scream in warning as it plunged into Moiraine, pitching her further down the cavern to where she lay, convulsing on the floor.
She snapped her head back around and watched in horror as the third came for her. But even the pain of the Dark One entering her body, and reaching through her to something she couldn't fathom, paled into insignificance as the sapphire began to glow.
The burning and the cold unforgivingly deepened. What had come before was a mere chilly breeze in the middle of high summer. It became an inferno of ice, a tempest in a frozen wasteland that shredded her soul. It moved up her arm, through her shoulder and settled into her mind. And she screamed.
Powers vast beyond her comprehension swirled around her, as old as time and those older still. They dwarfed her, and in their immensity they destroyed her. It was not destruction with intent but a destruction of consequence. The frail human mind, a thing of memories and emotion, learned responses and traumatic scars all pieced and held together by the barest of threads, could not withstand the impact of the beings that moved around her.
She was cast aside, shattered and broken into the void, left to drift endlessly in the undercurrents of time. The beings moved around her ripping and tearing and making anew. A war she could not see, but could only feel. The being of anger, hatred and violence tore at what had been, attacking a pattern that she could barely comprehend at the edges of her soul. A being of no emotion, impassive and merely reactive, the Wheel itself she realised, moved to put what had been broken back together.
Each time destruction came the pulsing ball that was her was torn to pieces, only to be remade after a fashion as the detached one countered. Back and forth they warred and with each pass the orb that was her became less and less as pieces of who she was were thrown to eternity.
Until, at last, near her end, all that remained were three fragments of who she had been held together by sheer force of will. One was of a tall man with sword in hand, hair greying at the temples, a golden crane resting on seven broken towers behind him, shuddering as it drew its final breaths. And so she knew of love and commitment.
The second was a memory of light. How it seared in its perfection, how it moved and flowed and of the one who had created it, the one who stood before the darkness. And so she knew of hope and determination.
The last…the last should not have been. It was of cold and pain. A cold so terrible that it haunted her in the void as it had burned through her. It wasn't the cold of the middle of winter, nor the cold of the absolute absence of heat, but rather it was as if the sun itself burned a bitter blue and tried to destroy her.
She could still see it there, that sun. It burned on the horizon in the nothingness as she drifted. So far and yet...yet she almost felt that if she could just reach, just move that tiny bit closer she would be able to touch it, be able to extinguish that dreadful light.
Idly she stretched in a way she didn't understand…and something moved. Curious she did it again, longer and harder, and parts of the undercurrents shifted with her, back toward that blue sun. In a rush she remembered, in a rush she understood.
Somewhere, in a cavern in the mountain, a sapphire ring glowed. She was screaming as the cold fire burned in her mind, but here, here it was a beacon in the darkness, a way back from the void, a lifeline.
She shied away, hesitant. The war between the Destroyer and the Wheel had reached its crescendo. The Destroyer had paused as the Wheel tried to mend what had been twisted, tried to fix the Age of Lace itself. Who she was, who she had been, was no more. Somebody else walked in her shoes, in a life she had never lived. The version of the pattern to which she had belonged relegated to a mere possibility of what could have been. Here…here was an end for which she could not be faulted and there a place that she did not belong.
She did not know if she was brave enough to face what the Dark One had done. She had never been brave enough. It was not a thought, here in this place, but more than a knowing. What it was that held that lifeline began to loosen its grip, to let go.
Suddenly something else, something new, moved in the void. The barest movement of a finger, a breeze not strong enough to ripple a pond. She watched as a tiny sliver of who she had been impossibly changed direction and shot back toward the orb that was her. And she remembered.
She remembered a Bel Tine in the Two Rivers. A Bel Tine without a gleeman, without a peddler or fireworks. One after a poor winter that had come after a poor summer and the poor winter before that. One where she had danced around the Spring Pole on the green and the unmarried man had sung. One where the villagers had passed gifts on Winternight, though they had nothing to give. One where the adults told stories and the children laughed. One where the bonfire burned and families from outlying farms with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks were given their share and then the share of others. She remembered her people.
And so she knew of duty, of a duty heavier than a mountain.
All fear vanished. Resolute she reached with everything she had toward that horrible, excruciating cold and yanked.
The destroyer howled as she shot back toward the bitter sun. The lost fragments of her soul, connected as she was, moved out of the undercurrents and poured after her.
Nynaeve drew a ragged, shuddering breath and immediately struggled to pull another as she collapsed to the ground. The world had tilted, shifted as she stood and her balance had left her. Her eyes closed as the world spun.
A hand came to her pounding head and she winced. Her check was swollen, her lip cut. 'At least the cold is gone,' she thought, 'thank the Light for small mercies.' As the dizziness subsided she drew herself up to her knees and her other hand came down to the floor to help push herself up. The cold, rough, wooden floor. Her eyes snapped open and she immediately fought raising panic.
A memory came, vague and indistinct. Another place, outside of time. A blue sun. Part of her was aware, part of her understood. 'Rand made a mistake. And the Dark One…the Dark one rewove…' She couldn't finish the thought. She began to tremble.
The pit of doom was gone. Rand and Moiraine were gone. Her yellow gown, her Great Serpent ring, her angreal and ter'angreal were all gone. Tears began to escaper her eyes. Lan…Lan was gone from her mind, as if he had never been. 'Light he could be dead, they all could be dead.' Her trembling increased.
Her long thick braid, longer than she had ever worn it, fell over her right shoulder and rested on the floor. The floor of what had once been her home in the Two Rivers. The home that she had left over two years ago. The home that was almost exactly as she remembered.
She could hear screams and sounds of fighting outside but she did not, could not make herself stand. Both hands slowly moved up from her knees, over her stout Two Rivers woollens, stopping at places that brought pain. Her right hip, left ribs and shoulder. Slowly, ever so slowly, they came to her neck and the cold circlet of metal that rested there. Both hands closed tightly over the a'dam, her palms sweaty. "Light not this too," she whispered, "anything but this."
And then the trembling took on a different note and her tears stopped. Nynaeve knew anger, an anger that focused her. Anger at the Dark One for what he had done and the things she could not undo. Anger at herself for been afraid, for worrying about things she could not, did not yet know.
Here and now the Seanchan had come to the Two Rivers and hurt her people. And the woman once known as Aes Sedai el'Nynaeve ti al'Meara Mandragoran swore on her knees by the hope of her salvation and rebirth that she would make them pay.
A/N: I read the book and couldn't believe that Rand brought the Dark One into the pattern and debated with himself if he was going to kill him. Then imagined something like this happening, you know a mistake like the last sealing of the bore.
Oh and some may wonder why the Dark One wouldn't simply kill Nynaeve and Moraine if he could reach through Rand to the pattern like this. In my head at least A) it doesn't work for my story ;) but more importantly B) if you are the Dark One brought into the pattern where you can be killed, surrounded by vast amounts of the power, killing the women could destabilise al'Thor, causing wild fluctuations of the one power and your own death.