Muffin Vamps, Janica, Debs and Chucky sat in the Lion Throne room, looking at the collection of knick-knacks Elayne had scattered on the table. Elayne herself, flanked by her three still-slightly-wobbly Warders, was sitting on a chair at the base of the throne dais. She was not ready to take the crown, she said, without the support of the higher-ranking Houses and the support of the people.
“This one looks like one of those things they make with lasers,” Chucky commented, picking up an oblong bar of amber with a wonky sort of stick-figure shape etched on the inside.
“Don’t touch it!” Elayne snapped. Chucky dropped the object with a clunk, and blinked at the Queen of Andor in puzzlement. “It is an object of the One Power, it shouldn’t be handled by men – or by anyone – until we know what it does.”
“But you said you made them,” Chucky objected.
“I did,” Elayne said, sounding puzzled, “but I don’t know why, or how, or what they are.”
“They’re ter’angreal,” Janica said, sounding just as puzzled as she picked up an object something like a twisted stone ring. “They can be used to draw the person touching them into Tel’aran’rhiod.”
“How do you know that?” Birgitte demanded.
“Because Elayne is strong in the One Power, and she has a Talent for creating ter’angreal,” Janica said, seeming to snap out of her bemused daze. “Sooner or later, that Talent was going to make itself known, and she was going to do something like this, and it looks like it’s happened by accident,” she glanced at Chucky and Debs, who both shrugged, and turned back to Elayne. “Have you been thinking about ter’angreal, and maybe wondering whether new ones can be made?”
“No,” Elayne exclaimed, “I’ve been thinking about how Caemlyn was taken over by one of the Forsaken, and how my mother was killed, and how the Dark One seems to have stopped the seasons in their tracks-”
“That explains the presence of Betty,” Chucky nodded to himself.
“Betty?” Janica asked, just a little suspiciously.
“Betty Swollocks,” Chucky explained, beginning to redden as he realised everybody was staring at him. “It’s … when it’s hot … it’s slang for … it means sweaty … oh never mind.”
“Anyway,” Elayne said, recollecting herself, “nothing could have been further from my mind than ter’angreal, with the possible exception of, um, Betty. But before I knew what was happening, I’d copied these from that little collection we managed to salvage from – put it down!”
Chucky dropped one of the other ter’angreal, this one an iron disc with a spiral scrawled on it crudely. “I was just going to spin it and make an ooky noise,” he grumbled. “So are you going to use these to have more conferences in Tel’aran’rhiod?”
“Maybe, if they’re safe,” Elayne replied, glancing at her Warders. “We need to find out how things are going in Salidar. From what Nynaeve has told me, there are more than three hundred Aes Sedai in Salidar, more than a third of the Tower’s strength. Another third or so are wandering the countryside or settled elsewhere, and the rest are still in Tar Valon. And we don’t even know which of these are Darkfriends in disguise. Nynaeve says lots of them are acting suspiciously.”
“There has tae be some wee o’ sorten et oot,” Debs said positively. “Hoo meneh spees’ve we go’-”
“I still can’t get over how fucking impossible you are to understand,” Gaidal Cain remarked.
“That doesn’t matter,” Janica said, giving her leash a little tug. “Debs and I will be in our rooms if you need us. We will need to use these ter’angreal of yours-”
“-if they work-” Elayne interjected.
“Oh, I’m sure they’ll work,” Janica went on, standing up. “We will use these ter’angreal to venture into Tel’aran’rhiod and see if we can find out if Darkfriends have infiltrated both groups of Aes Sedai. Maybe we can find out what Shadow Monkey is up to. Then, we have an excursion to head off on.”
“Where to?” Birgitte demanded.
“Still in Tel’aran’rhiod, actually,” Janica replied. “We will use need to find the Bowl of the Winds, which we will use to break this drought and return the seasons to their normal course. And my husband’s … swollocks … to their normal Betty-free condition.”
Damane, sul’dam and gleeman headed upstairs. The Dragon Reborn followed mournfully along behind, limping theatrically.
“What do you reckon it is?” Chucky asked. “Is it the Dark One? Shadow Monkey doing something tricky?”
“Actually, I’ve got my suspicions,” Janica said. “I’ve seen a couple of strange things happening lately, and I don’t think it’s anything to do with the Dark One, although I’m worried they might coincide … no, this seems to be external pressure. The Pattern is … what?”
“I was just going to ask if maybe you’ll need a blackboard and a little toy Delorean to explain this properly,” Chucky suggested.