Tattered Threads – The Inverse Ajah

 
The triumphant return of the Tattered Threads comic transports us to a place we’re all familiar with…our own halls! Remember back in late June of this year, when the White Ajah inverted their avatars and invited you to join them? Well, I had so much fun with that, I made a comic to commemorate it.
 

Join Rabid Novice Julie’s cousin, Concerned Novice Janice, as she notices something strange pass her by in the White Tower halls. What could that be? Read on to find out!
 


 

(Disclaimer: The likeness of Lyndo’s avatar was rendered with his permission.)

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The Wheel of Time Re-read: Monthly Summary (August)

 
Please note, this article contains major spoilers for The Wheel of Time.
 
In August we read the second half of the Great Hunt and got started on the Dragon Reborn.
 
With the boys reunited again, these chapters are primarily from Rand’s point of view; so we see his development more than Perrin or Mat. We have more confirmation that Rand has Aiel heritage, from the response of the Aiel in the stedding; though at this point, there wasn’t really any doubt. With Selene gone, Rand also remembers Egwene exists, even if his feelings towards her have changed. He still denies he is the Dragon Reborn, even after he fights Ba’alzamon in the sky and is proclaimed by everyone, he still doesn’t really believe it. He is beginning to realize that he is unlikely to be able to just stop channeling – he misses saidin when he is in the stedding, though it takes him a while to put this together. Perrin does have a little development – he still refuses the wolves, but is starting to develop into a leader; or at least, into having people follow his lead. Mat is sick through much of this, and although he blows the horn, we really don’t see anything significant from him in terms of character development.
 
Of the other characters, Egwene probably develops most. She is captured by the Seanchan and forced to learn to channel at a greatly accelerated rate; especially compared to Elayne, who spends those weeks trying not to channel or even hold the Power at all. This leads her to using the Power in their escape attempt rather than trying to think their way free, endangering them all. She also moves on from Rand, focusing mostly on Galad – at this time, she barely notices Gawyn. Min and Elayne both admit their feelings for Rand, though Elayne is more open about it. She has also constructed a fantasy version of Rand in her mind, seemingly based on how she would want a man to be. We also get the first instance of “I’m such a coward” from Elayne, because she would rather live to fight another day than die a pointless death. This is one of the many aspects of her character I find extremely annoying. Finally, we see her relax her “we should never break the law” attitude, when she steals for food when hungry. Nynaeve has a little growth in how she is willing to use the Power, but fails to put aside her resentment of Moiraine. At one stage, after Liandrin has handed them over to the Seanchan, she still puts them at a similar level for her dislike.
 
This month also had one of the strangest chapters in the series – Rand’s trip through his alternate lives. This left us with many questions. How many lives did he live? Did he really live through all of them? How many years would that have been? How much did he retain – it should have given him clues as to the future (though he was called Lews Therin in many and this didn’t alert him to the truth of his status as the Dragon Reborn). Did anyone else live a life where Rand revealed himself? How did the time work? He existed in all of them, so presumably up to that point they had gone more or less the same way as the main world, but in some it was years or decades before the Seanchan arrival and Tarmon Gaidon.
 
We see the Black Ajah revealed. Although Liandrin doesn’t say so outright, and no one else seems to put it together, it is absolutely clear that both her and Suroth are darkfriends. Interestingly, Liandrin doesn’t seem to lie here. I think we can assume that the Black Ajah must be able to, otherwise there is no way they could keep their secret. But they may be so used to making sure everything they say has a plausible true explanation, that even when they never expect to see the person again they try to make sure they are telling the truth.
For worldbuilding in general, we see a little more of how Ta’veren work – Rand feeling himself being pulled towards Falme; and at the end Egwene, Elayne, and Min being drawn to him, though it is Nynaeve who actually saves him. We also learn a lot about the Seanchan, though some of it, such as servants killing themselves when their Lord dies, is not something we see later.
 
We also get more of the visions and prophecies in this section. More of the Prophecies of the Dragon, for example “slay his people with the sword of peace, and destroy them with the leaf” as well as more of Min’s visions. At this stage, we probably aren’t able to work out what any of them mean, though the link of leaf and sword of peace might suggest that Rand’s people, have some connection with the Way of the Leaf. If does give us a few things to look out for which we will know are significant, such as an Aielman in a cage.
 
In terms of the various themes that run throughout the series, we see more examples of people acting on poor knowledge, or refusing to update what they believe in light of new information. Everyone continues to think of Ba’alzamon as the Dark One, and the Whitecloaks decide to believe that the Aes Sedai are controlling the Seanchan and the three oaths have been shown to be lies. While they probably wouldn’t have been able to do much differently if they had realized Ba’alzamon was Ishamael, the Whitecloaks and others would have made other decisions if they knew the Seanchan controlled women who channel, rather than being controlled by them.

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Notes from an Aspiring Brewmaster – The Porter!

 
The first beer style we’re going to examine is the porter. The porter is a dark, malt forward beer with a relatively low alcohol content of about 3.5-6%. Depending on the brew, you can expect to find notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, nuts, and sometimes a smoky flavor with a dry finish. The porter’s history is as unclear as the beer itself so let’s take a look on where this beer came from and how it developed.
 
The first theory involves London’s Ralph Harwood in the early 1700s. In order to save money, Harwood would take leftover beer from other kegs and combine them to create a new beer and to avoid waste. At one point, one of these “beer cocktails” caught on with some of the working-class, especially porters, and Harwood tried to replicate it. It was originally brewed with brown malt roasted over a fire to provide the dark color and smoky flavor. The style started making its way around Europe and was picked up by a brewer in Ireland named Arthur Guinness (maybe you’ve heard the name?). Mr. Guinness brewed his porter from sometime in the 1770s until 1974.  However, brown malt was expensive and as the beer grew in popularity brewers started to cut corners. They started using pale malt and adding things like opium and hemp to help darken the beer. Thankfully David Wheeler invented a new way to roast malt in 1817 that made it easier to roast the pale malts to a darker and more “well-done” version to make porters. His invention used a process similar to the way coffee beans are roasted and made it cheaper (and safer without extra add-ins) for brewers to make porters.
 
The other two theories are less exciting than the image of Ralph Harwood mixing concoctions in his brewery. One theory states that the beer was brought over from the Netherlands via trade with England and that the Dutch were drinking a beer called “porter” as early as the 14th century. Another one posits that porters we’re just stale brown ales that caught on by accident. Either way, it’s a beer that is now popular all around the world with different sub-categories, depending on the target audience and region.
 
So there we have it. While we don’t know the true origins of the beer, we do know that it’s a beer that has developed over time to be a full bodied, intricate brew. Whether you have the more hoppy American porter, the traditional London porter, or the higher alcohol, more boozy Baltic porter, you’ll be sure to enjoy this complex beer.

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Where They Came From – Rosamund Pike

 

Moiraine Damodred: Rosamund Pike

 
Well, my dear readers, we have come to one of the bigger fish in this pond. Rosamund Pike, who will be starring as Moiraine in the upcoming series, holds much more career weight than most of her peers. While I have no doubt she’ll be able to take on the role of the cold and calculating Aes Sedai, let’s take a look together at what molded this Lady of the Silver Screen.
 


 
Filmography

 
London-born movie star Rosamund Pike began her acting career in 1998 as Celia in the made for TV movie A Rather English Marriage and sorting through her IMDB page that was the beginning of nearly a yearly project to present day. Her first major role was that of Miranda Frost in 2002’s Die Another Day; and then a few roles later Pike starred as Jane Bennet in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice. In the same year as P&P she played Samantha Grimm, sister of Karl Urban’s character in Doom. These are just some of the films that I have either seen or heard of from her early career. As I mentioned, Pike has had the grit to take on either singular or multiple projects every year for the last twenty plus years, so I am extremely confident that she will be able to deliver an amazing performance with all of this experience.
 
You want me to share a lifetime of knowledge with you in a single afternoon?
Here we are, dear readers, approaching the time when we finally get to see these wonderful men and women bring our favorite characters to life. With performers as good as Pike in their ranks I cannot wait, as I often say, to experience it on the airing date.
 
If you wish to look further in depth on the information presented here the link to Pike’s IMDB page is as follows: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0683253/
 
Once again, I would like to thank each of you for taking the time to read my articles. I’ve been anticipating this next article. Almost as if I’ve been commanded to pursue it by some dark force. See you all next time.

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The Shadow Knows – Part 6

 
Eventually we regained control of the valley, one dead Dreadlord at a time. I made my way back safely underground. One of Ishamael’s staff walked over, a specter in black and red. “He will see you now, Castellan,” she said in a quiet voice. With the Great Lord suddenly absent, there was only one “He” left.
 

“Ishamael then?” I asked quietly. She answered with a whisper, “No, Baalzamon.” Well, that part had happened as planned, perhaps there was some hope left. Nonetheless, if it seemed that the Heart of the Dark and the Castellan of Shayol Ghul would have to decide together how to best lose the war.

 

From The Shadow Knows, Part 5

 

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Part 6: The Day the Music Died
 
She led me to the Court of Air and Darkness, which is our version of the Hall of the Servants. It was only created in mockery of the real Hall. Since we are not remotely a democracy, it was never used for its intended purpose. Trysts happened here, so did melodramatically “secret” meetings, and the occasional murder. Naturally, Kyranna decided to join us. I was reasonably sure that she wasn’t invited, but it isn’t like anyone could stop her. It would be suicide to even try.
 
He was waiting for me alone. His normally unrelieved black was heavily powdered with what looked to be stone. That would also account for the shrapnel-like wounds all over his body. As was his right, he had the place of prominence. He had not stopped even for healing and respected me enough not to bother with a mask of mirrors. The saa was gone from his eyes. I wasn’t sure if he was blocked from using it now that the bore was sealed, or he was too exhausted to keep holding it.
 
I too had not bothered with healing. As a result, my mangled left arm was in a sling. For that matter, what remained of my finery was nothing but rags. So much for dignity befitting the office. He told me what happened. How he went after Lews Therin alone and found him in the ruins of his former home surrounded by the dead. Apparently, the conversation was not to the Dragon’s liking because at the end of it, he took his own life. Only Lews Therin would go so far and crush himself under an actual mountain.
 
We had so many questions, many of them only answered recently. How had Lews Therin patched the Bore? How long would it last? Could we drill another hole? We nominally needed Lanfear for that, but we might have to try. The male Aes Sedai that attacked had gone mad. Would the others? How long would it take? Neither of us foresaw the Breaking of the World and the end of an Age.
 
Ba’alzamon said that the other Chosen present were locked away in the Pit of Doom. He said that he hadn’t gotten fully away either but could not explain what that meant to me in any meaningful way. When we were done speculating, it was time for the hard choices to really begin. There is no point going into details, we are well past the longest reaching of those decisions.
 
When we were done, Ba’alzamon had instructed me to talk to the servants of the other twelve. The plan was to promote one member of each party as a sort of regent. That way they could continue to see after their mistress’ or master’s interest for however long the Chosen were locked away.
 
Aginor’s party were unilaterally slain. Graendal’s carnival was decimated but some of them had survived. They were so confused without someone to direct them that they just sort of wandered around the battlefield. I was going to have to take them in hand myself.
 
Lanfear had no one to carry on for her. Asmodean’s people were whittled down to four. I asked Kyranna to quietly kill the rest. Asmodean was so worthless it would be better to appoint new people to his staff than trust his very flawed judgement.
 
Demandred, Sammael, and Be’lal all had competent and dedicated officer corps. Once they had been made aware of the plan, they needed little prompting. Good soldiers, one and all. They were spread a little thin however, because they also had to cover Mesaana, and Moghedien.
 
Balthamel and Rhavin had come with playthings. I couldn’t really tell who among them was competent so I went with whoever looked to be most attractive and put them in charge. If the two of them valued beauty above all else that seemed the most appropriate trait to use when choosing stewards. I doubted it would work out well in either case.
 
I was going to have to do something about the former Aes Sedai who had escorted Semirhage. I walked over to the most prominent among them. “I know you.” Which, I absolutely did. Everyone knew all twenty of her trophies. That was the point. “You are Reneth Lanalda. You are the Dreadlord of the Last Wall. I saw you kill three of the Hundred Companions in single combat. In recognition of your valor, I name you seneschal for the Lady of Pain until she returns.”
 
You could have heard a pin drop. I had just promoted a slave to the rank of Dreadlord. If there were any doubts about the limits of my authority, they were at an end. I watched her expression change as the praise took hold. She suddenly stood up straight and just for a second, I saw the ghost of a smile. She helped her fellows up from their knees, but was wise enough to wait to be dismissed.
 
That left only the good Captain, and the tattered remains of his command. We do not have medals. The most recognition anyone could ever get, sans a formal promotion, was to be mentioned in a dispatch. Even that honor had never been accorded to a Myrddraal. I on the other hand believed even then that they all deserved better. I proclaimed that Captain Bacahr was now Bacahr the Hero, and his fellows I named Champions of Thakandar. I added that they bow first to no one, save the Chosen.
 
Now that might be going too far for some of the attendees. Shadowspawn were, and are still, not considered to be people. The idea of equality with a Fade, much less exalting them was anathema. I could feel the change in the mood and intended to step on it before it got out of hand. I casually rested my right hand on the hilt of my broadsword. Kyranna, stepped beside me, pausing only to roll her shoulders and pop the bones in her neck. A neat trick, she doesn’t even have bones.
 
But the best part was feeling Renth Lanalda of all people embrace the source. I almost laughed. Well, that was a quick turnaround. I knew the type. She had been hurt, and longed to revisit those agonies on others. She might just get her chance. I didn’t let anyone else so much as touch the Power. Instead of warmth and light they found only an impossibly high glass wall.
 
We were in the holdfast proper at that point. I had no power above, but here was another matter. We did not plan to repulse open assault but there were contingency plans for treachery, insurrection, and rebellion. While few people know it, no one can channel within these walls without permission when the fortress is in lock down. I looked around the room and offered a slow smile. A mirthless twist of the lips that didn’t even come close to my eyes.
 
It had the intended effect. People who can kill with the Power do not think much of swords, but if you cannot access the Power then suddenly swords are a major concern. Be’lal’s people were a potential problem but they just stood there impassively waiting for the scene to play out. When things failed to escalate, they stood down. So, it seemed those titles would be respected after all.
 
As for myself, I’ve never held a field command, or played much of a role to the South. I was remade to stand vigil here and I hold to that duty very carefully. The Great Lord was absent for so very long, but orders authenticating from the holdfast are treated as coming from the highest possibility authority. That is unless Ba’alzamon is out and about. Then those orders come from him.
 
My days are filled with all of the things that cannot be trusted to others. I serve as the clearing house for our shared eyes and ears. I am still effectively Chief of Staff. I raise armies, and insure they have all that they need to function. I also make sure that the smiths have the materials they need to make our signature blades. All of that is every bit as tedious as it sounds but essential nonetheless. The Trolloc Wars didn’t run themselves.
 
While we are down to making war on only one continent, command and control is still centered here in Shayol Ghul. But today my staff is made up of more Myrddraal than Darkfriends. You see, public Darkfriends are not a thing anymore. The useful ones are all infiltrators. The ones who end up here have either been found out or are too unstable to be of any practical use. They make for very poor company. The populace of the town isn’t much better.
 
Sometimes I sneak into Shienar just to get my ration of common humanity. Kyranna still spends most of her time here, but she goes out every other decade or so. She misses her siblings. Maybe with recent events she will finally find them. That more or less covers the normal run of things. My next entry will go back to a discussion of topics relevant to the Third Age as a whole.
 
Next, Part 7: Chasing the Dragon.
 

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The Shadow Knows is an ongoing series about things Dark as seen by a mysterious, Friend of the Night. As such, they are written from a certain point of view and cannot be taken as the absolute truth. These articles are intended to be entertaining, and at times might contradict accepted canon. Viewer discretion is advised.

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