Verin Mathwin was strange.
Not that this was an uncommon opinion; most women among the tower found her so, including the Browns, and the Brown Ajah certainly had its own very distinct criteria for what counted as peculiar.
Temendre was not Brown Ajah. Nominally, she was a Green, but her true allegiance, and Verin’s, were much darker.
But just because they shared allegiance to the Dark Lord didn’t mean that Verin was not strange nonetheless; distant and distracted and thoroughly, Temendre thought, irritating.
She chewed on her thumbnail – a bad habit from her girlhood - as she watched the woman across the room from behind her mask. Verin also wore a mask, but the masks were more of a formality than any real disguise, and besides, Verin was always betrayed by her notebook. She was scribbling in it again, as she nearly always did. If anyone was dedicated to her research in the White Tower, it was Verin. But Temendre truly wished she wouldn’t insist on writing during their meetings.
She gritted her teeth and pulled her thumb deliberately away from her mouth to clear her throat. “If we could get on with the proceedings…?”
“Of course,” Verin said, sounding faintly distracted. “I don’t believe anyone is stopping you.” Scribble scribble scribble. Temendre imagined she could hear the sound of the pen moving over paper.
But to object would make her look childish. Temendre’s hand jerked up with the urge to nibble her nails some more, and she clenched her fist in her dress to keep it away. “Very well,” she said stiffly, trying to communicate all of her displeasure in those few words, and turned to Kiannala instead. “What do you have to report?”
Verin scribbled on, not even glancing up. Kiannala glanced over in Verin’s direction and then straightened. The other sister was not particularly exceptional or powerful, but Temendre felt some small loyalty to her in the fact that they shared both their Ajahs. “There is little enough to say,” she said, though gingerly. “My eyes-and-ears say nothing can be told, that all is quiet.”
Across the room, Verin made a distinct ‘hmm’ noise. Temendre drew an indignant breath.
“I'm sorry,” she said, briskly, “Sister, is there something you wish to say?”
Verin said, “I have reason to believe that the Dragon Reborn will be among us soon.”
Temendre stiffened. Verin knew what that meant, of course, and yet she chose to bring it up like this? Kiannala, the fool, gasped audibly. Temendre strove to make her voice stern and not let it tremble. “How do you know this? What evidence do you have?”
Verin lifted her eyes from her notebook, finally, and her quill with them, poised above the paper. She smiled, vaguely, and Temendre could see her eyes hawk sharp under the mask. And she began to speak.
Yes, Verin Mathwin was strange. But she was useful.
Temendre of the Green Ajah and Kiannala of the Green Ajah are both Black Ajah. They should be watched but are not particularly high in the hierarchy, I do not think.
“I do no understand your reason for meeting with me,” Liandrin said, feeling somewhat impatient. She had business to attend to, preparations to make. Word was that the girls – the wilder and the other that Moiraine had found would be coming to the White Tower, and she would have to be sure to keep close to them.
Verin blinked owlishly at her, holding her Brown’s notebook in one hand. Her hands were ink-stained, Liandrin saw with disdain, and her hair was mussed.
“I am working on a project,” said the Brown sister, finally, reaching for a cup of tea that had to be cold by now. “I thought you might be of help to me.”
“Did you?” Liandrin said, coolly. “What sort of a project?”
Verin looked down at her tea, had a sip, and then frowned, looking disapproving. “What did you think of the Dark Prophecy in the cells?”
Liandrin bit her lip and wondered if Verin was too powerful to use Compulsion on. She probably would not notice unless it interfered with her research. “Terrible,” she said, “Absolutely terrible,” though what was truly terrible was her inability to get a hold on al’Thor.
Verin’s eyes grew bright. “Really? I think it is fascinating. We know all the prophecies of the Light, but that does leave a whole other half, doesn’t it?”
“What does this be having to do with me?” Liandrin asked, feeling the prick of irritation. She had other things to do, better things to do. “I am no expert with prophecy.”
Verin waved a hand and smiled vaguely, setting her tea down and opening her notebook. “No, no, of course not. I don’t know what I was thinking. And the Two Rivers boys, what do you think about them?”
“I have no particular knowledge of them,” Liandrin said carefully.
Verin seemed to forget that she hadn’t liked the tea, and had another sip of it. “Oh,” she said, “Of course.” Liandrin began to feel even more irritated, and stood up.
“I think it best I do be going,” she said haughtily. “I do have business to attend to. Elsewhere.”
Verin looked up from where she was now paging through her notebook, seeming surprised. “By all means, Liandrin Sedai,” she said with a pleasant smile. “Go in the Light.”
Liandrin felt Verin’s eyes follow her, and they felt altogether too sharp, but when she looked back, Verin was only writing in her notebook, sipping her cup of tea.
Liandrin (Red Ajah) is also Black. Uncertain how much she knows. Disappeared; current location unknown, presumed dead.
Ingtar stared at the woman in front of him, slightly plump, stout, and with a motherly air. She sighed, sounding faintly exasperated. “I will prove it to you, if I must,” she said.
“No,” he said, hastily, not particularly curious about what that would entail. He could feel himself sweating. “No, that won’t be necessary. My Lady,” and he bowed as deeply as he could. “So there is…”
“Yes,” she said, sounding a bit impatient, “Yes, yes. And please, I am Verin, or Verin Sedai. I would make a very strange lady, I daresay.” Her smile was faintly indulgent, almost grandmotherly. “No, I am more curious – what are your intentions? If I may.”
She seemed very polite. It was not at all what he would have expected from Aes Sedai, much less the Black Ajah. Ingtar felt as though he were going to crawl out of his skin. “I,” he started to say, and glanced sideways, over his shoulder. What was he supposed to say?
And he had just argued with her recently about the best course of action to take with the horn. He twitched, half expecting some retribution to come when he least expected it. For all the promises he had made –
He had not exactly expected the Horn of Valere to wander into his life.
She tilted her head, a bit like a bird, and examined him with her eyebrows arched. “Go on,” she said, sounding almost gentle. “Or are you uncertain of your next course of action?”
He seized on that at once. “That is – exactly.”
“Mmm,” she said, sounding interested, but only vaguely. She looked down at her notebook, oddly, then opened it and jotted something down. “I see. Well, I'm sure you’ll work something out, I'm sure.”
She smiled at him. Ingtar just stared.
“Well,” she said, “Good evening. I think that is all, Tomas will be wanting to see me.”
“If there is anything I can do to help a fellow – help you,” he amended quickly, not certain that he was exactly on the same level as the Black Ajah. He rather hoped not. “Then please-“
“Of course,” she said, and nodded at him, though he noted that her eyes seemed much less distracted. Ingtar took a stammering breath and dared to ask.
“How did you- know?”
“Oh,” Verin said, sounding almost absent, and he would have been fooled except for those eyes. “I am just very good at solving puzzles. Don’t worry. You’re quite safe, Ingtar.”
She wandered away, then, and he was left feeling not comforted at all.
Ingtar a Darkfriend, but not a threat to al’Thor.
Laras was thinking of Egwene al’Vere when Verin stepped into the kitchen without announcement and paused, looking at her.
“Would you brew me something, Laras?” Verin sais, almost suspiciously mildly. Laras blinked, and then turned, attentive at once. Verin did not come here often, but once or twice she had, for no reason that she could ascertain.
“Of course, Verin Sedai. What would you like?”
“I hope you are familiar with it,” Verin said. “Asping tea?”
Laras stiffened. She knew the name, and it was a strong poison. She opened her mouth to say something, she didn’t know what, and then closed it and took another long look at Verin. The Aes Sedai looked thoughtful and slightly vague, as usual, but she also looked tired.
Laras reached for the water and set it on to boil without looking away. “Tell me?” she said, finally, phrasing it as a question and aware that even that was perhaps too much.
Verin considered her for several moments, and finally said, “What I can.”
All told, there are over two-hundred Black sisters in the White Tower and Salidar. Forty-eight of the Red, thirty-eight of the Green, thirty of the Gray, twenty-eight of the Brown, twenty-one of both Yellow and Blue, and seventeen White.
Verin Mathwin is also of the Black Ajah.
Go in the Light.