Murder Mystery Shaoman 2007
Leilwyn settled into her rooms at the palace. She hated being this far from the Tower, but these negotiations needed an extra level of authority. The rumors of several male channelers assembling had the White Cloaks crossing their borders far too often.
Without warning a Fortelling pulled Leilwyn under. Reality slipped away, replaced by horrific visions. The Tower under siege, her Sisters dying painfully, a black shawl, and a list of names, powerful names...and then nothing, but the reports at her desk.
As her nerves calmed, she felt a need to write. It quickly became a list of names...The List. They were important, but why? All were important people within the Tower's Upper Ranks...were these the people in danger, or the danger?
How does one dare report a Fortelling, when you could be reporting directly to the Black Ajah?
She told herself that she was not afraid. Aes Sedai felt no fear. But after what she had seen, after what she thought to be true...the risk was too great, the Tower had to be warned immediately. No one in the Tower was safe.
The first murder
With a smile, she realized her prey didn’t know she was there.
As she watched, Darim Pelegro walked into his shared quarters, carrying a slice of pie from the kitchens on a delicate Sea Folk porcelain plate. The plate made a slight sound as he set it down onto the desk near his unfinished reports. With a sigh, he eased into his seat and casually kicked off his silvered boots. The room was both silent and dark; even the fireplace was cold despite the chill of the night. Darim preferred his evenings spent this way, she knew, as these were the best conditions to allow him to think.
As a cool breeze washed over the room Darim appeared to be at peace, pie and papers momentarily forgotten. His eyes closed, and his unseen watcher thought she could almost hear his brain processing information.
This was the exact course of events she had been counting on. Just as the intelligence - and her own experience had told her; Darim would be in his quarters alone, attempting to finish paperwork. She also knew there would be no interruptions this night, least of all from Sela. It had been easy enough to arrange for a flood of distractions for the meddling Brown. Oh yes, Sela would not have a minute to think of her warder, to think of leaving the far away libraries until it was well too late.
Things might have gone different had Darim's eyes not been closed. A wisp of the drapes and a glimmer of starlight briefly revealed the stalker's steely blue eyes as she swept past a mirror; eyes that burned with hate. If I cannot control him, then no one will. For all his potential value, Darim was too dangerous to be left alive and Sela was too inquisitive to be left without distraction.
A guttural curse was all the warning Darim got as he rose from his seat.
Tired or not, distracted or not, Darim fought valiantly when his observer struck. Instinctively, Darim jerked his elbow backwards the second he felt the weapon slip into the small of his back. But she was ready, and expecting him to defend himself. Instead of making contact, she watched as the Gaidin was thrown off balance as his elbow found nothing but air to slow his momentum.
"You!" The guttural words, spoken in a voice that rasped with the agony. With a decisive movement the woman thrust something long and slim through the side of his neck.
She saw the confusion mingled with recognition in his eyes, and pulled away as her own tears began to mingle with his blood.
"You should have taken my offer when you had the chance, Darim! This plan will happen, even without your help!" She knew he was gone. As she left, her only hope was that his brief glimmer of recognition wasn’t enough for Sela to work from.
Minutes later, the sound of the Tower Guards' heavy boots thudding filled the Brown Halls, as Sela rushed with reinforcements to what she knew would be the mangled corpse of her dead Warder.
In her heart, she swore revenge against whoever had done this loathsome deed. She felt the recognition before the pain of Darim's death. No one in the tower was smart enough to get away with this for long. Her only real clues were the strange punctures that took her Warder's life, but as the Light was her witness, she would not rest comfortably until whoever had done this was justly punished. That cursed Blue would pay for keeping her late in the library for her damn reports, but she would deal with her later. Now, she had a killer to catch.
The second murder
Leora Sedai walked serenely towards the Amyrlin’s study wearing her red shawl. It was not often a Red Sitter would seek out anyone out side of her Ajah, but it seemed some sisters of the White Ajah had overstepped themselves again. She only hoped the Keeper would be able to ignore her Ajah ties to deal with the situation appropriately. If nothing else, Vivianna would hopefully look into it. She never thought the Amyrlin being away would be so frustrating!
Slipping a hand into her pouch, Leora fingered the disturbing report she'd received regarding a White helping men who could channel escape from being handled by the Red Ajah. The Sister’s identity had not yet been revealed, but Relinya was on her way back to the Tower to address the Hall with her findings.
She swallowed her rage - just the thought of a sister helping one of those men pushed the limits of her Aes Sedai serenity. With a quick adjustment of her shawl, she strode into the anteroom of the Amyrlin’s study. She was surprised to be greeted by an empty room. With the Amyrlin away on business, the Keeper should have been available. To see her not here was very strange indeed.
Leora put it from her mind quickly as she walked across the anteroom and entered the Study. A gasp escaped her lips as she entered the room. Vivianna Sedai, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah was face down on the Amyrlin's desk. She practically ran to the desk and quickly delved to see if there was any life left in her. There were no obvious wounds, and yet the amount of blood pooled on the desk and floor was sign enough that the former Sister was dead.
Leora went into the hallway and all but grabbed the first Accepted she saw. “Go and find the Keeper, Child!”
The Accepted silently curtsied and ran off to do Leora's bidding. This had to be handled very delicately. A murdered Aes Sedai was horrible enough, but one found dead in the Amrylin's Study would be seen as a sign of weakness.
For someone to get this close to Vivianna meant that it had to be someone she knew. Leora felt disgust as she realized that it had to be a Sister. Forbidden thoughts of the Black Ajah came to mind. It was impossible.
Kyla Sedai gasped as she saw the scene, pulling Leora out of her thoughts. “What happened here!” she demanded.
While Leora hesitated to answer to the Blue, study door opened as the Keeper and her Warder rushed into the room. “Who else knows about this?” Dralyn demanded.
“No one, ” Leora began, only to be quickly cut off by Dralyn.
“Go find a Yellow. We need to know when this happened.” Dralyn barked at Kyla, "and be discreet."
Kyla frowned, but nodded. She started walking towards the door and gasped. “Alanar! Where is he? We need to find him and keep him under control, if he hasn't died from this.” Leora glanced at Jayrik. Arms crossed, he seemed displeased with something, and distracted. Who needs a warder that constantly frowns at you, as Jayrik seemed to be doing to Dralyn. Useless really.
Before she could give that much thought, Toral Gaidin stormed in and went straight for Dralyn. “What the light is going on! Alanar's body was found dead yet unwounded at the doorstep of the Dai M'Hael Halls. The Gaidin are in an uproar. I can hardly contai-” Toral paused in mid word, as the scene in the room became clear to him.
Dralyn's patience seemed to be thinning. “Keep control of your men, Commander! That is your job, after all.” she snapped.
At that moment, Toral's own rage also seemed barely contained. “My men weren't the only ones to see Alanar in his current state. Talk is already spreading among the servants that some monster must be stalking the Tower, to be dropping bodies at our doorsteps like this."
Leora raised an eyebrow. “What an ignorant superstition! Isn’t there enough for them to do other than to spread silly stories like that?”
Dralyn waved Leora off and turned to Toral. “Go and gather your men. I want you to conduct a full search on the Tower Grounds. If you find any thing at all, report directly to me.”
Toral seemed to pull his rage inward, and without expression saluted and left the room. Jayrik took that cue to follow after him, looking somewhat pleased to have somewhere else to be and something else to do. I can't blame him. The idea of Aes Sedai killing other Aes Sedai...not something most men want to have any connection with.
Kyla came back with Branwyn following behind her. “What’s this talk about a monster loose on the Tower grounds?” Branwyn asked tartly.
Kyla sighed. “It is all over the city, Dralyn. Already people are lining up outside my office asking about it.”
Dralyn frowned. “Branwyn. Delve Vivianna’s body - see what you can find.”
Leora took stock of the room as the Yellow went to work. Something caught her eye on the desk.
It seemed to be some sort of report. Most of it was covered in blood it looked strangely familiar, which was odd. But odd was the best way to describe this whole day. Then a sudden realization hit her. She nearly lost control of her smooth features as she suddenly realized who the murderer was.
The third murder
Lightning arced to the ground, warming the darkened sky with its violet glow. The forest lay silent, not a sound was to be heard, except the faint hum, a melody heard through the trees. Valadilene was torn between trying to find the source of the song, or follow the figure through the trees. Her decision was made for however, as the pacing figure stopped, along with the approaching melody.
“It will be done,” a muffled male voice muttered from the shadows.
“Good, as I expected. There really is no other option, is there?” The shadowy figure was a woman, her voice revealed that much, but it rang with an unnatural pitch in Valadilene's ears.
Before she could focus further, both man and woman shifted, then vanished – leaving only the memory of a nameless tune. Her prey gone in the span of two blinks, Valadilene searched the area, only to find an oddly shaped green flecked stone. She took the stone and opted to return to the Tower and consult her list rather than press further into the unknown.
Darkness had taken its hold on the Tower. The Accepted of the tower were sent to their rooms hours ago and should have been silent, but there was a murmuring undercurrent rapidly advancing through the corridors. Opening the first floor door to the Accepted’s quarters, a panicked silence fell.
“What are you all doing up and out of your rooms?” Valadilene Sedai’s voice was cool, in command.
Cowering, the nearest Accepted found herself under the unwavering Aes Sedai’s gaze “We…we…there’s been a murder!”
“A murder within the walls of the Tower itself? Don't be foolish! Who started these lies? No. It doesn’t matter. To bed. Now.” Valadilene had already turned and left before the Accepted had finished scattering to their rooms. She would brook no disobedience on this night.
Valadilene was settled in for the evening, tea cooling and her reports in front of her. Who knew Accepted could be so troublesome? Do these girls ever expect to attain the shawl? Valadilene's line of thoughts was broken as her door was quietly opened and shut by a most unexpected visitor. Before Vala could say a word, Leora waved her to silence while she warded the room from outside ears.
"I have disturbing news." Leora started. She quickly brought Valadilene up to speed with the scene in the Amyrlin's study. "The Tower is turning itself inside out with fear and suspicion.”
Losing any sister is a hard, but in the Amrylin's Study? It was a devastating blow. And to suspect another...
“Sit, dear Sister. What good are we if we too panic and run around the Tower, trying to fix things before we know the source? I have every faith we will find out who is ultimately responsible for this.” Valadilene pressed a cup of tea into Leora's hands and urged her to take a drink.
"Let me tell you what I've seen tonight." Taking the stone out and placing it on the desk, she heard Leora gasp. "There were two voices. If what you say is true, there's do doubt there are more. It doesn't surprise me to hear she was involved...but what of the man? Who could that one be? And would they be so careless as to leave ter'angreal about?"
Valadilene sighed and poured herself another cup.
"Who else? Barring the Black Ajah, it must be one of the men. Someone charismatic, cunning...For him to go unnoticed this long; that bothers me. We must be missing something...It's not right."
"Perhaps something can be learned from this?" Leora said, as she picked up the stone. Valadilene could see the ridges and the green flecks as Leora turned it around in her hands.
With a start, Leora held it out to Valadilene "It's gone cold! feel it!" but no sooner had Valadilene touched the stone, the room was rocked with an explosion. Valadilene's vision was fading, but she saw enough. The cracked door, the Red cloak...she could hear the humming....How had her sisters been so blind?
The fourth murder
Branwyn tried to relax while the kaf brewed. After all she'd seen recently, she wouldn't be trusting tea any time soon. She needed to focus on Vivianna's death - the sisters she selected for the others knew their job and would do it well. As she poured the first dark cup, she remembered the honey she'd taken from the kitchen, and applied it liberally.
She sat near the fire, cup in hand and considered the book on her side table, Ancient Teas of Seanchan. She'd meant to meet with Sela, but the Aes Sedai was apparently out. One of the other Browns offered her the book while she spent several hours pouring over similar books in the library. With a sigh she sat her kaf down and flipped through the pages of the book. So many uses for tea...so many lethal uses. Who would know, or even think to use information like this? She shook her head and tried to focus on the pages. She was getting tired and it was hard to focus. After all the recent horror, she didn't think sleep would come this easily.
With another shake, Branwyn forced her eyes to stay open. I can't focus on anything like this! She went to pick up the Kaf, but misjudged and knocked the cup over. Blinking, Branwyn stared at the mess - watching it go in an out of focus. She was feeling lethargic, her body wasn't reacting as it should. I...this must just be the stress. I need to sleep this off. Fighting for focus, and control of her body, Branwyn tried to head to her bed chamber.
A sound at the door took her attention away from her task, but she couldn't quite get a fix on the source. Within a moment, she knew she had been shielded. Branwyn tried to struggle, to get up, to call out! - something, but she had no control. "Now, now, Branwyn Sedai - don't try to overexert yourself. Sit. SIT. You'll be much more receptive to what I have to say. Don't worry about trying to call out either, you just look like a gaping fool." The voice stayed behind her, and she couldn't force herself to turn. What is wrong with me! What have they done? I need to see, to focus! Branwyn was getting desperate as her vision continued to fade and her body became less responsive.
"I suppose it's lucky for me that you generally don't concern yourself with the library, you wouldn't know 13th Depository. It was pure luck that Ismene was willing to open it to a fellow Sister of my standing." Branwyn was trying to process the information quickly: 13th Depository? the Library? What's she getting at? "I've always wondered at Yellows, why they don't focus on the adverse effects of common medicines. For instance, did you know that select Aiel spices mixed with Kaf will result in a slow and painful death if not treated immediately? From what I have read, it starts out as a lethargy, with failing vision quickly following. By the time the vicitm loses control of their body, it's too late. Here, let me help you, I'd hate to have you found slumped in such a fashion."
Branwyn could feel more than see as the woman, the former Sister arranged her body. She could just make out fringe. Is it black, or just dark...dark brown? "I can't leave a Sister without reading material, so if you'll look right here," Branwyn heard as the pages of the book were turned, "you'll see exactly what I was talking about. Right here in front of you. If you would have accepted things as they were, if you hadn't started to dig - perhaps we wouldn't be where we are now. I have other things I have to manage and tend to - without tidying up loose ends like you."
With a laugh, the woman left. It was all Branwyn could do to focus on the fire, before that and everything else, faded.
The fifth murder
It was only luck that she was in the Green Ajah's anteroom in time to catch plans for the rendezvous by the practice yard. She should have been planning other events, but this was too important to delegate.
She hid in the shadows on the edge of the yard and watched as the burly Captain of Soldiers left his quarters. She was taking every precaution - it would not do well for her to be seen now.
The wind was picking up, and she had little doubt that this storm would be a strong one. Despite the foul weather, Cataia and Jarin were waiting as planned.
Doneavan was pacing while he addressed the other two. "...to be a male channeler! There is no other explanation! I think Dralyn would have skinned me alive right there if I put those thoughts to words. How can I find the cause if the cause is forbidden to discuss?" His shoulders sagged. How careless was He if even a simple warder suspects male intervention? She had to adjust the plan quickly.
"I'll just get a few of my sisters and we'll find a very persuasive way to convince them to consider other options." Cataia's jaw was set and her arms crossed. It was no surprise that the Green would go to any length for her warder. Jarin seemed equally determined.
"No. I can't believe that a male channeler could've gone this far alone. There has to be more at work. I...I don't think even the Greens have escaped this influence. We simply don't know who we can trust. For now, I need you both to wait, and keep silent. For now I just need you both to know that, should the worst happen, I've outlined all my suspicions in my notes."
It was all she needed to hear. If he was cleaver enough to not only suspect a male channeler, but the Black Ajah...what else has he figured out? and what has he written down.This was not something she could report on and wait. But they were three, and in a public place. There was only one option.
She readied the weaves and stepped out from the shadows, quickly shielding Cataia. She half-smiled as the two warders snapped into action, defending their Aes Sedai from attack, blocking her from view.
Good, all in one shot then. Before either Warder could take another step forward the bright liquid light of balefire flew towards them all. Removing them from the Pattern was extreme, but it bought her necessary time and their disappearance would help cast further confusion amidst the Tower.
Content that none had seen her work, she quickly went to Doneavan's quarters. She didn't have to search long before coming across the notes. Just like a man, so disorganized, but leaves all the important information easy to access.
As she had feared, too much of the plot was already guessed at in his notes - she even appeared on his list of potential darkfriends. With a chuckle at his discovery she lit his fireplace, careful to do so without using the One Power. Once the last page was fed into the fire and reduced to ash, she slipped out of the quarters and calmly went about the rest of her day.
The sixth murder
The murderers had been discovered. Though they'd fled from the Tower it was only a matter of time until they were brought in for trial; assuming they did not perish in their apprehension, which seemed more likely. Two Warders and a Sister were guilty of all those murders, it was almost too horrible to contemplate. Better than the alternative at least, a single corrupted Sister was a crushing blow, it was a far easier thought than admitting to the Black Ajah. Though Dralyn had not yet issued any official word, the rumors of Cataia and her Warders had already spread throughout the Tower. Of course, there never would be an official word. Sela knew that all of these events would be erased, twisted in the histories all to preserve the sanctity of the Tower.
It all fit. The leaders of Tower had been struck down, and chaos had nearly taken grip of the Tower. Rumors were flying and it was getting harder to sort fact from fiction. Rumor had it that it was records found in Doneavan's study that had led to their plot being discovered. It all fit, but still Sela could not believe. The other murders were quick, clean, impersonal. But Darim...poor Darim...his murder was personal. All those stab wounds. Cataia and her Warders barely knew Darim, Sela knew they'd never have killed him like that.
The words cut through Sela like a knife, she hadn't even heard her First-Sister slip into the room. It made sense of course, these were Ne'Mireth's quarters. She should be that familiar with them. Still, unnerving.
Before Sela could even form an answer Ne'Mireth pressed on, "Toral has already told Dralyn you won't be accompanying the search for Cataia. They're set to leave within the hour."
"Oh...of course. No, I won't be traveling with them. How is Dralyn? She still won't see me." Sela tried to shift the subject, all the while wishing she'd packed just a little faster.
"She won't see me either. She's barely seeing anyone right now. If Toral hadn't of been there when .... well, I imagine that's the only reason she's seeing him, keeping any of the Gaidin up to date. Jaim is furious, but Toral's kept him from doing anything foolish."
As the conversation lapsed into silence, Ne'Mireth moved behind Sela and gave her a short hug. "Where are you going, Sister dear?"
Sela would have found a way to twist the truth with anyone else, but Ne'Mireth deserved better. "We all think of the woman first, but Doneavan always had a touch of authority over the other two. If they truly are responsible for this, It is Doneavan's life that needs investigating, not Cataia's."
"Oh, I suppose a part of me still just doesn't want to believe. Not that I ever wanted to lose Darim...but certainly never like this." Sela quickly pulled a list from her bags, as she realized the conversation had gone on long enough and she was too distracted with thoughts of Darim to keep up necessary appearances. "Would you please collect these for me? I won't trust anyone else in my rooms, and I just can't face them yet. Oh, and take Jaim with you. I'm not convinced it is safe yet, and I'm sure Toral will be with Katina."
"Of course Sela." Ne'Mireth, to her credit, pushed no further. Instead, with a quick second hug, she took the list and left the bedroom. Though Sela had never once heard Jaim, as long as it took for the anteroom door to open and close, Sela knew he'd left with Ne'Mireth. It was a smart thing to do, even now Warders were loath to leave their Aes Sedai's side for any length of time.
It was amazing how quickly a life's work could be undone. Since she'd first found Darim's body, time had stood still for Sela. Nothing mattered to her more than revenge. Ne'Mireth had been good enough to loan her spare bed chamber to Sela. Light bless a Green with only one Warder. Her two bags were packed, and her short thank you note to Ne'Mireth was already written. Sela dropped it off in the Outer Room as she moved to leave. The list had been a ruse. Sela had no need for anything on it, she'd only prepared it just to make sure Ne'Mireth and Jaim were far away. She had no interest in mixing either of them up in this.
Doneavan's life was the life to track, but before Sela left the Tower she wanted one last look at his quarters.
She moved cautiously, though the halls were silent. Not even a Novice on errand was roaming about. Doneavan's quarters had been ransacked at least twice already, but Sela just knew there was more to be found. There had to be. With a final look around, to ensure no eyes were upon her, she pulled open the anteroom door, intending to find her way to Doneavan's quarters. There had to be something left behind. One step, and she stopped, the blood draining from her face. "You? No!" The word still hung in the air as the hawk talon cut through her throat and death took her.
It was all over before it truly began.
In the Amyrlin’s Study a gathering of some of the most powerful members of the Tower had come together to reflect on the events of the last few days.
“The White Tower is now ours.”
Dralyn Sedai’s smiled for the first time since she had seen that damned Gray’s letter.
“The stole suits you well, Mother.” Toral’s words rang from across the anteroom as he moved to join the gathering.
“It is done then?” Unconsciously, Dralyn steadied the rainbow colored stole that was far heavier than the Keeper’s stole.
“Sela’s body and horse will be found fifteen miles south of the Tower, it will appear to be an obvious and daring assault by the Children of the Light.” Toral’s voice was ice, “Foolish woman, she just stood there dumbfounded while I slit her throat.”
“They never expect it, Toral.” Maidelyn Sedai’s laughter rang throughout the Study. “You should’ve seen Doneavan’s face. He actually tried to parry the balefire.”
“Balefire was a little extreme, Maidelyn, but Cataia and her Warders do make for convenient Darkfriends this way. If only all of you had been so tidy with your work.” Dralyn’s harsh eyes fell squarely upon Mirandha.
“Hmph, I never thought Darim would pass on such power.” Mirandha still did not understand the dead Warder’s rejection, “But at least I killed him in his own study. What were you thinking Dralyn, killing Vivianna in here of all places?”
The room fell silent as Dralyn’s body nearly glowed rage and Saidar. “I did what had to be done. Leilwyn’s letter nearly undid us all. Question me again, and you’ll never touch a drop of the power you killed Darim for.”
“Besides,” Tinnlin’s every word was filled with bitter mirth, “It gave me a chance to try this little beauty and rid us of two bothersome Reds.” Tinnlin toyed with his green flecked ter’angreal while savoring his memories of Leora and Valadilene’s painful deaths. “Remember Mother, once they’ve been stilled the Reds are mine. Heh, Mother…a shame we couldn’t have just killer Her while she was away.”
“She is more useful to us alive than dead, Tinnlin. Once the others have returned with the Mydraal, Eleyan” Dralyn spat the name with pure hate “will make for a perfect puppet Amyrlin.”
“It’s also a shame we were unable to turn Branwyn,” Madelaine sounded genuinely sorry over the lost Head of the Yellow Ajah.
“We’ll turn the next Head, Madelaine. You had to kill her, but at least you let her die with some dignity.” Dralyn had also planned to take advantage of Branwyn’s skills once she’d been turned.
“Speaking of Heads of Ajahs, what will we do about Leilwyn? Fortelling is a useful Talent. Plus she….wait” Tinnlin’s face went from calm to terrified in an instant. “The stone, it’s getting co-”
“You did the right thing Jayrik.” The True Amyrlin of the White Tower placed a gentle hand upon the grim faced Warder. “Dralyn had gone fully over to the Shadow. There was no other way.”
“I know what is right, Mother. Sneaking you into the Tower, betraying Dralyn and her circle of fools…” Jayrik’s sigh was deep and painful; the severed bond was already tearing him apart, “It’s done. Nothing else matters.”
“We’ll see you through this Jayrik, I promise.” The Amyrlin then turned towards the four that were gathered outside of the her anteroom, “As for the rest of you, the Tower thanks you all. Kerna Sedai, you have been a credit to the Blue Ajah this day. Emp, Naryb, and Evelyn, though you are still new to the city of Tar Valon I am certain that great things shall be in store for you three. Your Mayor Kyla Sedai will be most pleased. Without your hard work, without your letters to me, I’d have walked directly into this trap, and we would have all been undone. However, what you’ve seen tonight can never be spoken of again. Officially, it did not happen. You must all carry what you’ve seen, what you’ve learned, to the grave. Always remember that we are all in your debt.”
“Is the Bla…” Evelyn could not even get the words out, “Are they all dead?”
“We shall see, Evelyn. We shall see.”