Tamika swept her dark hair back from her eyes with one hand as she wrote. The paper, soft and of the finest quality, crinkled beneath her pen. She smoothed it out and continued writing.
“Mother...” She disliked addressing Bonwhin so, but not to do so would make the chance of her letter being read and accepted zero. If it was not already. The Light burn that fool woman and her pride! Tamika sighed ruefully. It was her pride as much as Bonwhin’s that was at fault. No one refused a summons to the Amyrlin, but she had done just that. Five years it might have been, but Bonwhin Meraighdin never forgot a grudge.
The rest of the letter followed. A formal request for audience with the Amyrlin Seat at her earliest convenience. After thought, she signed it not Tamika Paendrag the High Queen, but Tamika Aes Sedai. It was a long time since she had used that title, but it still held, despite the whispers of renegade that floated around her. Once a sister, always a sister.
A second letter was written more quickly. To Zaiene this time, Bonwhin’s
Keeper of the Chronicles. Zaiene and she had remained on good terms of
a sort after Tamika’s marriage, despite the traditional animosity between
their Ajahs, and Zaiene had more influence with Bonwhin than anyone else
in the Tower. Do what you can, please, Zaiene, Tamika had written
in this one. Whatever sisters say about me now, I do not want war any
more than the Tower. I try to steer my husband toward peace, but you must
do the same for Bonwhin.
With luck, she and Zaiene could avert the war that seemed to be impending. Sealing the two letters - not with the Golden Hawk seal of the Paendrags, but simply with the imprint of her Serpent ring - Tamika rang for a servant to have them delivered, and leaned back wearily in her chair. Light, it was hard. The Hawk diadem felt suddenly heavy on her brow. The ring that glittered on her hand, although a fraction of the weight, seemed even heavier.
It was nearly two weeks before the reply came from the White Tower.
Sharply, Tamika broke the seal and scanned the page rapidly. The Amyrlin Seat refused audience with Tamika Paendrag, now and at any time in the future. The Amyrlin Seat also requested that Tamika Paendrag refrained from further correspondence with any member of the White Tower.
I’m sorry, Tamika, Zaiene had written across the bottom of the letter, below Bonwhin’s signature. I did what I could.
The letter crumpled in Tamika’s hand. “The Light damn that woman!” She hurled the crumpled paper into the fireplace. The flames flared briefly hotter, then died down again as the letter was reduced to grey ashes. “Is she an idiot, or just stone blind?”
The Great Serpent ring flashed in the firelight as her hand moved, and she paused, staring at it. Once a sister, always a sister, a voice whispered in her mind. But she had been barred from the Tower. Was she an Aes Sedai any longer? Slowly, Tamika drew the ring from her hand. No, she was not. The ring glowed redly as it, too, was consigned to the flames. Farewell, Bonwhin, and farewell to the White Tower! The Hawk is gold enough for me.
Her hand felt oddly bare without the ring, but she ignored it as she rose and left the study. And ignored Jalwin Moerad too, in the tapestry-hung corridor outside, as if he had been spying on her. Why her husband tolerated the man, she did not understand, but he trusted Moerad’s advice above any but hers. And not always below hers, either. His eyes seemed to burn as she strode past him.
“Leave,” she ordered the courtiers in Hawkwing’s throne room, and catching her mood, they bowed and curtsied themselves out without even waiting for his nod. A few sharp eyes noticed her missing ring, but there were no comments. When the room was empty but for them, Tamika turned her gaze on her husband. Artur Paendrag Tanreall, Artur Hawkwing, the High King, was a tall man with penetrating grey eyes, streaks of grey too in his dark hair. Those eyes softened as they rested on her.
Artur held out his arms, and she leaned wearily into his embrace. “I am so tired,” she said softly. “So very, very tired.” She did not think he had heard, but his arms tightened around her.
“Sweet, sweet Tamika. What troubles you, my love?”
She sighed and stepped back. “Bonwhin refuses me audience,” she told him flatly. “For any reason whatsoever.”
“She dares?” His voice was suddenly cold, and she did not need to look at his eyes to know they had hardened to grey stone. “She refuses peace. Then war it will be.”
“Love, there is no need -”
“It was her agents who killed Amaline and our children.” She had heard him say that before, but never how he knew. Whether it was true or false, she suspected Moerad as the source of information. “If she will not speak to you, she has exhausted her last chance. I will not rest until that woman is dead.”
His face was set, and she knew him well enough to know there was no
chance of persuading him otherwise. “Then war it must be,” Tamika said
sadly, and knew her ties with the Tower had been forever broken.
According to the Guide, there were several rumours that Tamika, Hawkwing’s
second wife, was a renegade Aes Sedai, a story which I accept. It is also
stated in the Guide that at one point, either Bonwhin refused to grant
Tamika an audience or Tamika refused a summons to Bonwhin. I chose to have
both happen, in the manner above.