The 2nd Age Life of Alethea Sayre Maelsouvra
During the Age of Legends, Alethea Sayre was an Aes Sedai who began her professional career studying under the prestigious psychologist Kamaris Maladon Daenar.
She was a curious and sharp minded woman, quick to laugh, and known to be sweetly natured. She was also renowned for being highly compassionate, a hopeless champion of lost causes, and generally considered naive amongst her peers as a result.
She was never liked by her ascetic mentor, however Alethea remained oblivious to the enmity earned or any rivalry perceived between them. In fact she would have considered them to be friends, despite the disparity of their personalities and Kamaris’ high moral superiority. Alethea had an unquenchable inquisitiveness and respect for the older woman’s work and always simply accepted the abrasiveness of her manner as an elder’s due.
Her interest in healing minds naturally overlapped with her skilful mastery in the Dreamworld, and she was first noted for work on the soothing application of dreams to aid trouble souls, as well as its use for diagnosis. In particular she was known for being willing to work with criminals and deviants, though the sparsity of such people meant it was a long time before she gained recognition for her service. Often she worked with the same criminals defended by Durrick Ladei Chamora.
Among her most noteworthy patients was the Aes Sedai Ezra Rashka.
Her renown changed during the Collapse and later war, when her particular talents were an indispensable support for those suffering the trauma, grief and volatility of the growing conflicts.
Alethea’s work was held in high regard, leading to the bestowal of her honourable third name Maelsouvra, “hopeful mind.”
At some point in her career Alethea’s interests deepened into esoterica. She sought admittance to the Collam Daan, where she began her life’s work studying the nature of and connection between souls, dreams, and memories. She was a skilled creator of pockets and dreamshards and conducted much of her work in this manner, unusually working alone for many of her projects. She spent significant amounts of time in the Dreamworld, skilled at entering in such a way as her body meanwhile rested.
Despite her own eccentricities she was also always a willing collaborator with peers and colleagues, and freely lent her time and expertise around her other work and duties. She was well liked, if odd. And she was constantly busy.
One of her foremost obsessions was not something she ever gained recognition for. She spent many years studying the Horn of Valere and the way in which the Heroes were said to be bound to it. It was considered a somewhat arcane study given the utopian society of the time, not least because it was an object of myth even then. In fact prior to her petition for study, it had been a piece in one of Paaran Disen’s museums. As a result of her discoveries, she was responsible for adding the horn’s Old Tongue inscription: Tia mi aven Moridin isainde vadin or “The grave is no bar to my call.”
Another vein of interest delved her into the observation of Wolfkin. They were not well known within the Age of Legends, being something that predated even the One Power, but their presence in the world of dreams also made them something that numbered among her specialisms. She had a vital appreciation for the wild and untameable.
“She said that some who talked to wolves lost themselves, that what was human was swallowed up by wolf. Some. Whether she meant one in ten, or five, or nine, I do not know. […] Mostly, she wrote of dreams. Dreams can be dangerous. […] According to her, wolves live partly in this world, and partly in a world of dreams.”Moiraine, The Dragon Reborn
Why she chose these areas of study was never really known.
Alethea was considered an expert in the field of Tel’aran’rhiod, owing to exceptional raw skill. She was one of the few among that Age’s Dreamwalkers able to reshape and mold the pattern of the World of Dreams, a gift most powerful in collaboration with another. Her creations were beautiful and highly inspired by nature; pockets of pure oasis. They earned her the title of Artisan.
It was for her gentle guidance and inspirational work that she received the additional moniker Lodestar. The epithet took on particular meaning during the war, when she became known for dream sanctuaries.
Though she might easily have grasped for it, in all her long life Alethea never craved power for herself.
She served on the Council that governed the World of Dreams upon invitation, and offered vast insight and poignancy into its proceedings, often proving a voice for those who could not speak it for themselves. But she was unsuited to politics. She had no desire to compete with her contemporaries, yet was often drawn into their machinations, especially once the Collapse set the decline of their Age in motion. Her willingness to trust and desire for acceptance sometimes led her down morally questionable paths.
It was upon the betrayal of the General and Dreamwalker Asristin Kyrineas Somneus that Alethea was forced to action. As a former colleague, and similarly skilled, she feared that Asristin might hunt her down himself. By now in the Dream he had become terrifying. But it wasn’t death Alethea feared most. Should the worst befall, a Compulsion that forced the collaboration of their talents would be devastating — perhaps even the final blow for the Light. Such were the possibilities, together they might have bridged an entrance into the Waking world for the Dark One himself.
She borrowed time by traversing the Dream’s pockets, offering sanctuaries to others where she could. She hid, protected, and ran. Her ability to conceal grew masterful. But at Asristin’s continued decimation of Tel’aran’rhiod’s secrets she realised it was simply not enough; that she must ensure she could not be used for the Dark’s purpose.
Thus began the experiment that led to the tethering of her soul to the Dreamworld.
Using what she had gleaned from the Horn, Alethea had intended to bind herself to the Light. Furthermore she attempted to obscure herself from Asristin’s senses, so that he might not recognise her as a fellow Dreamweaver at all. Yet the binding warped. Her soul strengthened its attachment to the Dreamworld, such as she became more intrinsically connected to it, resulting in her existence there in all Ages. The concealment worked too well, obliterating her memories and causing a schism between her Waking and Dreaming selves in all future rebirths. Her own abilities remain hidden from her in every Age, sometimes rediscovered and sometimes not. The resultant backlash of the binding killed her.
Until this experiment there is cohesion between her Waking and Dreaming self, and thus she remembers Dreams.
It is the only Age where this is the case.
Throughout her life Alethea had a great love for Tel’aran’rhiod, and was a talented Dreamer who often transformed her visions into beautiful paintings. It was a hobby far adjacent to what she was known for. Years after her death it would be discovered that the images often concealed prophetical messages. Her paintings became greatly sought after as a result, but most ended up destroyed or lost as a result of the Breaking. Whether Alethea was aware of what she created is unclear; if she did, either she kept it to herself, or whomever she shared the secret with did not live to tell of it.
- A man is on his knees in a dome of darkness, the central focus of the canvas. He is cruelly bound, entirely helpless, yet his muscles cord with the tension of fight anyway. Cloth wraps his head. The painting is cleverly bisected; the imagery above reflected inversely in the imagery below. Thirteen figures surround the prisoner in the peripheral shadows, and tendrils of power excavate the light from him. In the faint reflection on the floor beneath him, it is the darkness being excavated, but by whom or what is unseen.
- A later accompanying piece shows a winged man bathed in light. Beneath his feet stirs a demon.
- A man turns away, his face obscured. A collar and chains tether him to the earth, and manacles circle his ankles and wrists. One arm strains, held aloft behind him, his fingers curled with effort and pain. A crevice runs along the flesh of his forearm, spilling the cosmos. It drips and spills like a river, and where it reaches the ground, shadows wreath in the sinister shapes of horned and long-snouted creatures.