A Crown of Frauds, Part 14

Lanfear was getting pretty tired of this twenty-four-hours-a-day LARPing event that had replaced reality as she knew it. There was a certain rustic charm to olde-worlde cultures and technology, but it was the sort of thing that was really only fun if you could walk through a door and have a decent shower. The best they’d been able to manage so far were gateways into special retreats where the Age of Legends lived on, in at least an approximate form.

Her current role prevented her from doing that very often, but at least Tylin had provided as much in the way of modern convenience as possible. These redneck clods had grown up without the benefits of sewer lines or decent paving, but at least they knew a little bit about luxury. Semirhage had taught them a few tricks, too.

The channeling pool in Ebou Dar had been just as rich as her superiors had promised – in excess of fifteen hundred failed novices, Accepted and various wilders, a total almost doubling the numbers of actual Aes Sedai. And that was all the Aes Sedai, not just the ones that had been converted to the worship of the Great Lord and survived the various intervening battles and experiments. Considering the scores that had avoided conversion and the hundreds that had died, the discovery of the Kin couldn’t have come at a better time. And they were going to help find the Bowl, which was also a bonus, not that Lanfear thought anybody on her side had the slightest intention of using it. Things were looking up.

When her casual reflections were interrupted by her boat suddenly having been underwater for thirty seconds, Lanfear was forced to conclude that this was just about typical. Not only was she soaking wet and her clothes ruined – again – but the very nature of time, space and causality had been sliced through, and these days that was really something she’d prefer not to happen anywhere near her.

In the meantime, she was immersed in bacteria-infested water and the boat-half she was in was headed for the bottom of the harbour quicker than Graendal after a plate of teacakes. And Lanfear had no wish to see anything that might be in the bottom of the harbour. Channeling Air furiously, she wove a bubble around herself and rose, blasting aside the remains of the boat and its drowning crew with angry sweeps of her hands.

When she reached the surface, she was rather surprised to find herself close to the Sea Folk ship, the Windrunner. She was even more surprised to find somebody dangling from the side of the ship, hanging onto a rope with one hand and reaching, with stupid heroism, towards her with the other.

“Who are you and what, exactly, the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, staring at the man even as she rose past him.

“Same bloody Nynaeve,” Lan grumbled. “Nice to see you too.”

 


 

Vamps was doing his best to pay attention to Bashere, but it was difficult with so many distractions. He knew, if he could just get his hands on one of those ter’angreal that allowed him to use the Choedan Kal, he would be able to set everything right. But although he had one of the male statues, he was forbidden from even touching it, and even channeling these days was difficult and made him feel queasy.

Nobody respected his turmoil and anguish, and the brave way he tolerated it all. Plus, everybody was talking about stuff that wasn’t him, and he couldn’t abide that.

To make it worse, Puddin Taim was getting more powerful, and he was such a pussy. Vamps was worried that, when Puddin Taim was in charge, nobody could tell the difference.

“So these rebels,” he said, “they were somehow related to this woman my brother, uh, blew up a while back?”

“Literally related,” Bashere said, “Milord Dragon’s brother Mazrim blew up Colavaere, and they weren’t exactly fans of hers, but now they are in open rebellion. Open, but hiding. Possibly afraid of Milord Dragon’s brother. As any sane person would be.”

“What can we do about it?” Vamps whimpered. “I’ve been out of contact with mistress Janica for so long, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe if I used the Choedan Kal, and Mazrim and I started blowing up places where they might be hiding…”

“No Choedan Kal,” Bashere said, “and no more blowing things up. My instructions were very clear on that point.”

“Min,” Vamps said desperately, “did you have any viewings that might help?”

“Um,” Min looked up from the book she was reading, peered at the air above Vamps’s head, and went on, “I can see you … and another man. I can’t make out either face, but I can tell one of them is you. You touched, and seemed to merge into one another, and-”

“It’s not what it looked like,” Vamps said hurriedly. “I’m totally into chicks. And chicks with chicks.”

“That’s cute,” Min said. “Anyway, one of you dies, and one doesn’t.”

Puddin, thought Vamps with a savage grin. This means you.

“You’re still talking out loud, Puddin,” Min said.

“Screw this,” Vamps stood up, feeling suddenly purposeful and cool. It was time to get the focus back where it belonged – on him. “I’m going to visit the Sea Folk.”

“I hope milord Dragon doesn’t mind my asking,” Bashere said, “but why?”

Puddin Taim took advantage of this unfortunate moment of uncertainty to take over, and sent Vamps flopping back onto the tragically un-padded Sun Throne.

“Good point, Davram,” he said. “It just seemed like something I should, you know, do.”

“There is an Atha’an Miere vessel in harbour at the moment,” Bashere said, “The White Spray…”

“Hur hur,” Vamps said, but his heart wasn’t in it.

“Yes. Anyway, they have announced that they are waiting for the Coramoor, according to the Jendai Prophecy. Janica Sedai was of the opinion that Nancy Sidesaddle should attend any meetings, although what exactly any of this has to do with anything is beyond me. I don’t even ask anymore.”

“Shan, er, Nancy affects the Pattern in some way,” Vamps said. “It might help us to win over the Sea Folk.”

“Milord Dragon and his brother,” Bashere said patiently, “control a large group of crazed male channelers with the ability to weave gateways connecting us to anywhere in the world instantaneously. Janica Sedai and most of her cronies can do the same. Why exactly we need the support of a bunch of salty, leather-faced, tits-out retards on boats…”

“Alright, fine,” Vamps roared, climbing to his feet and swaying with momentary vertigo. “We’ll deal with these stupid rebels, then,” he waved his hand grandly, and pointed. “Abracagateway!”

Nothing happened.

“You’re supposed to channel when you do that,” one of the attendant Asha’man said.

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