The 3rd Age Life of Jai Asad Kojima
Jai is a veteran Asha’man of the Black Tower. He has seen a decade of action, first at the Blightborder, then in Illian and finally in Arad Doman.
The Kojimas have resided in Tar Valon for generations. The patriarch of the family was Asad Kojima, of a noble house of Malkier. Long ago, Asad loved a woman who was found that she could channel. She was taken to the White Tower to become a novice, and Asad vowed to wait for her as long as it took. Many years he waited, true to his word.
Eventually, the day came when the Lord of the Kojima house learned his great love was put out of the Tower. She refused to enter the Arches, and was given the option to return home or select a life of her choosing. She was ashamed of her fear, for not even trying to become Accepted, and would not return to Malkier. She wrote Asad, and as soon as he could make the arrangements, he took his fortune and abandoned the Borderland nation. He came to Tar Valon the sole representative of a house now defunct, but with a sure fortune to start again. He stayed with his new bride in the city, opening a banking house built around the sort of safekeeping values a Lord of the Blightborder would imagine.
They quickly amassed a reputation for being the safest, most reliable Banking institution in Tar Valon. For the wealthiest city in the world, that was an impressive feat.
Asad’s devotion to his bride was shunned by those he abandoned in the Blightborder, but he was revered by his descendants. His sword, the very blade that spilled dark blood at the border, became a treasured heirloom. Passed from father to firstborn son, the sword was featured heavily as the Bank grew and its executives were honored.
The journey was not long and mostly oriented up flights of stairs. It was grand, however. Every ceiling was vaulted and plaster fingered delicate designs along their path. Plush carpets scrolled underfoot while ancient marble was kept to perfect standards. On the executive’s level, they passed a series of richly framed portraits suspended overhead, capturing in near lifesize scale the images of every Kojima owner since the institution was founded with Asad. But for minor nuances, each man was immortalized near the same stage of life when their powers were at their peak as both owner and executive. Their hair darkened as the years under the portrait regressed, as the clues of their history increased in time. Yet in every version, from the dignified Arman most recently to noble hadori adorned Asad at the end, the same sword crossed their knees. The tradition would soon end, however as Zakar was yet unaware of the impending loss once it became his turn.Zakar Kojima, Loose Ends
The Kojima family
The Kojima’s still display the telling characteristics of their borderlander blood. Asad was dark-haired, but with the exception to his coloring, the notable height of the north he passed to his descendants. Each of the men in the family are in excess of 6 feet tall and broadly built, with straight brows and an intense gaze.
- Asad Kojima – The Malkieri great-father whose bride to be was found by Aes Sedai and sent to be a novice in the White Tower. When she was put out after refusing the Arches, she stayed in Tar Valon and Asad abandoned his life in Malkier to be with her. They founded a small banking house with what fortune he had. It is his sword that became the heirloom passed down from father to son ever since. The sword was destined to become Zakar’s.
- Arman Kojima – father, retired.
- Zakar Kojima – eldest brother. Strict, professional, germophobe, OCD tendencies, married with two children and having an affair with a barmaid named Jaslene. One of her children may be his. Has a terrible temper. Manipulative and controlling of Jaslene. Brilliant accountant and chief executive in charge of the Kojima banking house.
- Andreu Kojima – middle brother. Wild, outgoing personality. Life of the party. Wildly paranoid and bipolar. He tends to go on months long disappearances. Gambler. Drunk. Good at knife fighting and fisticuffs. He is a financial officer at the banking house.
- Jai Kojima – The youngest of three brothers. He is in his late 20’s and nearing 30. His OCD traits manifested as a child. He compulsively counted everything to the detriment of normal life. He obsessed with numbers and could perform complex computations even in his head at a young age. Arman opted to give Jai something to count besides the numbers, funneling the obsessions into something more physical. A swordman was hired and Jai was tutored daily through the movements. It eased his OCD habits to their father’s approval as he started to count his steps instead. As an adult, the step-counting persisted, but it particularly manifests when stressed or uncomfortable. Like his brothers, he was intended to work in the Bank, and was schooled to be an accountant there. At 14 he discovered an equation to predict financial market swings, which the Kojimas used as a means of investment. Their wealth expanded due to Jai’s creation, which became their proprietary use. The Black Tower made use of these skills as a code-writer and code-breaker. Jai has also been known to predict movement of troops based on statistical principles, knowledge used to evaluate estimations, risk, and likelihood of locating secret bases. In Arad Doman, his mapping and statistical prowess successfully located Seanchan safe houses, locations that primarily housed damane, and he oversaw their destruction.
“Alright. You know how I count?” He scratched his face absently, wondering whatever in the world possessed him to tell a stranger in the Front Hall about that; a stranger that melted his heart with her eyes. Light.
He found his nails briefly. They were filthy. Zakar would have a heart attack.
“Zakar likes things clean. Himself, especially.” He rubbed his hair, throat tight. “Very clean. I mean, he barely hugs his own kids.”
He knew how it sounded. That it made as much sense as a spymaster galloping a Razor. “Okay.” He closed his eyes. “I see patterns. Everywhere. There are base number systems. Alchemy systems. Geometry systems. Alphabetical systems. All of it. It’s called arithmancy.” He swallowed. His head spun with illustrations. “–And it makes up the very fabric of the universe. Think of every important number we know. The Five powers. Seven seals on the Dark One’s prison. Thirteen Forsaken. Circles of sixty-six. We call it the bloody Pattern.” He cringed, knowing how it sounded. It was painfully obvious to him; always had been, but it was a bloody trap. Like these four walls. Was it getting hot in here? Most people thought he was crazy; they were probably right.
His palm drew back sweaty when he loosened his collar.
“What I see everywhere, and what Zakar thinks is going to someday choke him, our brother Andreu sees in people. He can sense a conspiracy in a snowstorm. The hell of it is, he’s right half the time.” Jai could relate.Jai Kojima, Homeward Bound
Despite the expectation, and frankly despite Jai’s natural talents, he resolutely declared he would not join the Banking House as a profession. He was vocal with his intentions to enlist with the Tower Guard and day-dreamed as much with his best mates. No doubt, Arman’s introduction of the sword as a means to control his compulsions was inspirational of this plan, but it was a very specific night that really decided his fate.
He was a teenager when the city of his birth was attacked by trollocs. Zakar escaped their home to find the woman that was to be his future wife. They did not employ personal guards, and he thought to bring her back to the Kojima’s more secure home instead. Andreu was occupied with consoling their mother, as he had always been the one best to reach through the fog of her mind and give her the touchstone she needed. They were very alike in that account. Arman watched the city from their high balconies, an overlord of their property. But Jai was restless and determined to actually do something. He grabbed Asad’s sword and plunged into the streets alone.
Of noticing Tower Guard. How he’d watched them so closely at that age, dreaming of the day to climb the White Walls and stand on the edge above the river, armor gleaming with the sliver of dawn on his shoulders. The Guards were poised that day, but for what he only imagined. The reality of it, he couldn’t actually imagine. He’d been only a kid himself, one raised far from the brotherhood of the Borderlands. Whatever their family’s blood remembered, no living Kojima man at the time laid eyes on shadowspawn.
When the streets fell dark that night, monsters came out of the shadows. More than any other memory of that time, he remembered hearing the howls clogging the night like nightmarish wolves. He remembered looking from a window onto the far street below and seeing shapes moving. He couldn’t hide indoors and do nothing.Jai Kojima, Loose Ends
Jai stole their family’s heirloom sword, knowing the training weapon that kept his insanity in tact would do nothing against real trollocs. He stole the sword and left without so much as a goodbye, defiant and angry that nobody else cared about this crusade.
His father stopped him, eyes falling to Asad’s sword. It fit so well on Jai. He was long used to walking with it, but the comfort was not in physical grace, Jai was far too analytical a wielder to be called graceful. He was intense, purposeful even. But not artistic. Its presence was soothing in another way. The sword was the longest and best relationship he’d ever had with something, or someone, else. He stopped in mid stride, though, as his father captured the back of his neck with one hand and clapped the other onto his shoulder, and pulled eagerly, as though about to say something striking. Jai had a feeling he knew what was coming, and interrupted, “Dad, don’t say it. I really don’t deserve-“
Arman cut him off with a murmur. Jai fell quiet. “You were the only one of us, Jai Asad, my youngest, ready to suspend his life for a greater cause. When I found you with this sword ready to run into the night with the inheritance intended for Zakar, I knew you were the only one to earn it. You can do what Asad didn’t. What I didn’t.” His father’s eyes glistened with emotion. Jai felt his own do the same.Jai Kojima
Years later, envoys from the Black Tower were visiting the people of the city, calling for any man willing to be tested for the ability to channel. Jai dared his two best mates to test, Mikel Basinthe and Jon Foxsus, but they ducked out of the line before reaching the front. Proud to the end, Jai sauntered up to the table and faced some guy in black, smug with pending victory. The joke was on him though, as he was the only one found with the ability channel that day. He was gone by sundown, sword belted proudly to his waist, hungry for purpose and a life of meaning. His family was horrified by the news. In a city proud to send daughters into the light of the Tower, it was with grief of a dead man walking to see their sons shuffled into darkness. The madness was known, and it was a tenuous peace that existed between the two institutions. The Reds still gentled those who grew out of control, but only when the Black Tower didn’t cull them out first. His departure was not the glorious send-off of his dreams.
He didn’t see his family again for another eleven years.
The Black Tower
Jai quickly realized life at the Black Tower freaking sucked. He never knew how good he had it. He came from wealth and comforts, but he adapted quick enough once he figured out how to make it work. He had a knack for finding the humor in the worst situation, and made friends. One of which was Dexter (Dex).
“How you doing, Dex? I see you finally got that cane you always wanted.”
Dex lifted a brow, shifted his weight to his good leg and hefted the sturdy cane with some impressive stave-like showmanship. “It comes in handy. And I always thought they were rather dapper looking. I think a hefty mustache would pair well.”
Jai leaned away with a grin as the aid turned weapon whirred by his face. “Goes with everything.”
“Like Black?” He replied with mock tension.
Jai spread his arms to demonstrate the fine combination of weapon and uniform then splayed his thumb and forefinger across his upper lip as though smoothing out an invisible, but no less impressive mustache.
Dexter barked a pity-laugh for the dramatic display then the two ended up in a quick hug. When they stepped back, both men were rather astonished to actually see the other one still alive after all this time.Jai Kojima, Under Guard
Jai’s OCD meant he obsessed over everything they were taught, and compulsively practiced until his body physically kept him from continuing. He was always the last on the field until he couldn’t stand up. Then he would sit on the ground and keep going, sometimes days passed without pausing to eat or drink. He needed no sword training, and was actually pretty good until the caliber of opponents increased or he fought someone who knew him well.
Maybe Jai’s obsession with executing the perfect forms made him vulnerable. Trista once said that she could always count on him to not deviate from what was taught. Light blast her insights. Even when he tried to be sloppy and improvise the forms, all he did was end up on his back all the swifter. It meant one thing, against an opponent who did not know his weaknesses, he almost always triumphed. Against someone who knew him well, he was as good as dead.Jai Kojima, The Letter
As Dedicated, he spent time in Illian, and was an Asha’man well before turning 20. His first assignment at full rank was in the borderlands. The day after getting the Dragon Pins, he found himself in a sleepy fort on a scouting mission when an unexpected raid descended. Just like that night in Tar Valon, he ran headfirst into battle, feeling invincible.
It was brand new Asha’man Kojima, one Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, her warder, and a regiment of the legion facing dreadlords, Fades and more trollocs than Jai had ever known could exist in one place. He fought until he could channel no longer, weak and wounded as he was, and on the field of battle he decided to take the last Fade on himself. He drew his remaining weapon and attacked against all calls to hold back and take it as a group. He lasted for several blows. The Malkieri blade met Thakan’dar steel for the first time in generations, but Jai was bested quickly. The Fade swung long and wide, and Jai’s entire abdomen was sliced open from hip to ribs. The regiment’s lieutenant led a charge against the Fade, beating it back from the fallen Asha’man. Twenty men, including the lieutenant, fell around him while Jai watched, clinging to life and helpless before it was beheaded.
Bulges of men’s bodies made little mounds beside the boiled leather of larger ones. The air stank of burnt flesh, like wild dog-corpses on a bonfire mixed with blood and excrement. His own excrement. Not voided in fear. No. Nothing so natural as that. But spilled out, eviscerated from the front. The vision framed a sick view. An executioner standing over him, twisted worm-gray face drilling parasites into his soul. And heard the laughter. Victorious and shockingly heartfelt, but he couldn’t look away. Then a war cry, the flash of steel, and the robe of shadow took a step back. Then another. No. He wanted to tell the Lieutenant to turn aside. Not for him! Don’t! Then more cries filled his ears, enough to drown out the trumpets calling them to fall back. No! He cringed, tears welling up.
He knew why he woke up a week later in a field hospital; foggy and weak. There was only one Healer within reasonable distance of the front line who’d been responsible. Someone left alive after the Eyeless twitched its long death must have rolled mostly-dead Jai face up. Surely not the Yellow’s warder. Even with shadow ranks breaking, there were still other Fists, other dreadlords to concern her safety. But someone stuffed the guts, hot with blood and bile and half formed excrement, back in a splayed apart cavity when she went to work. Others were left to moan for help while their headless killer twitched beside them. Their pleading bellows was loud enough to implant memory through the unconsciousness of sure death. The long, agonizing passage of time unsympathetic to their brave cries for help while a perfectly able Healer spent all of her stores on one man. When dozens. Dozens! Might have been saved instead. At least spared their pains, if not their limbs. And who knew how many more had she not collapsed herself at the end of toiling over one person.
It made him sick to think about those sacrificed lives in place of his own. He was sick with it the whole length of recovery, watching others come and go around him. Representing the ghosts of good men who deserved to live instead. Men whose swords fought and killed for honor, for wives and children at home, or the Light-made-flesh Dragon himself; not because they wanted to; not because they needed that release only found in saidin’s cold anger.
It took a month to sit up in that narrow bed. Six to walk without a cane. There was no place to walk anyway. Other than between rows of bedmates. Light knew he tried, though. The counting went slow in those months. Bedmates changed, Healed, strengthened, and walked out, but the beds remained. All two-hundred twelve; he counted many times. A field refuge far from the front lines, then, to be so large and protected. Almost a year before he could handle the ritual of sword forms giving their daily, soothing regime again. He’d felt his guts settle inside like the foundations of an ancient manor for another year after that. To this day, he thought he felt it still.Jai Kojima, Under Guard and The Hunt
The Lieutenant’s charge that killed a Fade and saved the life of a single Asha’man who had fallen weak and wounded in battle, brave enough to take on the Fade single-handedly, was memorialized into a gleeman’s song. Jai himself was honored with an award for bravery by the M’Hael, but he knew it was Lt. Tomdry who deserved it.
The gleeman’s song was overheard by Jai when he returned to Tar Valon in “Your Kind,” and to his horror, he recognized the story as his own.
The Bonds of Brotherhood
After calculating the statistical likelihood of trolloc raids at certain locations along the Blight, his mathematical skills were finally noticed by the right people. They promptly packed him up and dropped him in Arad Doman, where the conflict with the Seanchan was growing out of control. He was put to work to locate and dismantle damane safe houses in the countryside, a chore that he was startlingly good at. Daryen Daimon was the ranking Asha’man commanding the region, the very man who would become king not many years later.
In truth, Jai was obsessed with the work, and the thrill of his accurate predictions always fueled his motives to repeat himself. But the killing of damane and sul’dam wore over the years. The nature of the enemy required stealth and ambush, which often meant burning victims alive. It wore at the fraying edges of his sanity quickly, as it should any normal man. But Jai was compromised from the start, and the taint had not yet been cleansed. He was diving headfirst into the very obsessions and compulsions that threatened to break him, and when that spiral came, it was almost too late.
Daryen circled forth, easily swarming the view. Sapphire eyes cloaked monotone in the dim world. “I’ve seen you, Jai. When you couldn’t see yourself. Lost in your frenzy, walking the paths of graveyards as it were, waiting to catch the sight of your own name. Fighting what you want, loathing the thing you love more than your honor. And yes, you love your honor like the sweet taste of numbers on your tongue. Like Saidin itself. Ah, to see the woeful world through your eyes. Drenched down with guilt; heavy dew weighing down the most delicate of petals. It must be a beautiful thing to behold.”Daryen, the Hunt
When Daryen suggested a bond, it was the easiest decision in the world. He trusted Daryen more than anyone alive, and loved him fiercely as a brother. He would have died for him many times over, and came close a few times too, but they went on, a terrifying and effective pair. Daryen’s rule of Arad Doman was safe after that, and as the years passed, the threats diminished. Jai soon found more action playing cards than channeling, and it was with genuine horror that he learned of a future treaty of peace and kinship. But Daryen’s will was determined, and one night, Jai had to leave. He had to get away from Arad Doman and its king and Seanchan. He ran as sure as he ran before, but this time, it wasn’t into battle. For some unknown reason, he ran home.
Back in the Fold
The first thing he did when strolling into Tar Valon was enter a tavern called The Golden Fox. It was owned by Jon Foxsus, the friend from the bet to get tested to channel, and to whom Jai lended money to start the business in the first place. It had been eleven years, but he spied Jon immediately behind the bar. The ruse about not serving ‘His Kind’ was quickly laughed away, and the two embraced, overjoyed to be reunited. He was quickly caught up about all the happenings from his old life as nobody was aware he was alive, let alone an Asha’man. Jon’s sister, Jaslene was married to Mikel Basinthe, their mutual friend. Mikel had ended up working in the Tower Guard just like he and Jai always dreamed. They had a handful of kids, and Jaslene was as beautiful as Jai remembered her. He’d been in love with her since as long as he could remember, and always thought they’d marry eventually. It killed him to know Mikel was the lucky bastard that ended up her husband.
It was in this tavern that the gleeman’s song about Lt. Tomdry was sung, and Jai slowly grew more paranoid over the coincidence of running into the one place his story was known. His discomfort was discharged briefly by the entrance of Fate Sedai, a Brown Ajah who was enjoying a day in the city. The group grew in revelry, and the day ended with another bet. She dared him to eat a whole ghost pepper in one sitting, which upon winning the bet, the Domani Aes Sedai would arrange for him to purchase a Razor, a Domani race-horse forbidden to be owned a foreigner. He managed to eat the pepper, but when he wiped the sweat from his eyes afterward, he blinded himself from the oils. She healed him up and they arranged to meet the following day to discharge the bet. A tentative welcome from his blood relatives that night introduced him to his nieces and nephews. Everyone was cautiously interested in what an Asha’man did all day, but Jai was short in explaining the details.
One of his brothers finally posing the question everyone wanted to ask but none drudged up the courage to utter until a mountain of pulled corks piled high on the table. Evidence of lowered inhibitions. “So, Jai? Are you mad?” Like puncturing a water skein. The night quickly deflated. And as these things tend to do, once the dam was broken, a flood of brave questions followed too fast and from too many directions for him to really answer any of them. No, he wasn’t going crazy. At least, he didn’t think so. Or if he was, it already happened.
‘Where in the Light have you been?’ … Everywhere.
‘What does an Asha’man actually do, anyway?’ … Whatever he’s ordered to do.
‘What is it like to channel?’ …Can’t describe it. ‘Will you try?’ …No.
‘Do you know the Dragon Reborn?’ …Seen him, never talked to him. Don’t want to talk to him.
But Jaslene’s tender voice was the final stab in the throat.
‘Have you ever killed someone?’
When he didn’t answer either way, Jai knew everyone knew. They changed the subject after that.Jai Kojima, Collecting on a Wager
He entered the White Tower at eleven the next day, but when Fate did not meet him in the front hall, he was left alone with his thoughts. Always a dangerous thing. The Accepted who happened to serve on duty that day took some interest (or perhaps pity), and kept him company. He learned Fate was Daryen’s sister only when Daryen himself opened the gateway to welcome him back to Arad Doman, and to all their surprise, the Accepted Nythadri was required to go with them all.
Through the torrent of these few minutes, he remembered a feminine voice at his side. He turned toward it now. If it was still there. And when he settled on her hollowed eyes, pale as the morning light, coveted breath caught in his lungs. He blinked.
Awe just slipped out, quietly.Jai Kojima, Collecting on a Wager
They ended up in Arad Doman, attending a hunting party as host to key Domani nobles whose support Daryen needed for the pending treaty with the Seanchan.
Many events unfolded within The Hunt, chief of which was to discredit Daryen’s loyalty to the Black Tower and their brotherhood.
The Broken Bonds of Brotherhood
Following the Hunt, Jai returned to Tar Valon to finish sitting for a painting of a portrait commissioned by his mother. It was half-complete when Zakar confronted him at their family’s home. He accused his brother of embezzlement and stealing, which Jai found absurd since he’d been a little busy the past eleven years. To his amusement, he’d bragged that if he had a mind to steal, Zakar never would have found the trail to prove otherwise. The joke was not well-received, and Jai escaped through a gateway to Andor. He’d already intended to visit Caemlyn and investigate what happened to Nythadri’s brother. The tale had been shared in confidence – that Tashir Vanditera was killed in repayment for a debt. Landing in Caemlyn sooner than expected, he set out to find an old acquaintance and learn more about this accusation against him.
Aharon Ellis was an Andoran apprentice banker who interned with the Kojimas in Tar Valon when Jai was a teenager. They were friends, even while Aharon worked for Zakar. He was witness to an equation Jai created to forecast skewness of predicted returns, which became a key to the Kojima’s successful investments going forward. Ellis returned to Caemlyn with a plot created by Zakar to create the continent’s first international banking empire, beginning with the downfall of the largest house in Caemlyn, Lynn Bank, their closest competitor, and acquire them. The plot included House Winthel, who was already renown for loaning money to risky investments, such as a floundering House Vanditera. The Vanditera’s largest debtor was Winther, and when they were bankrupt, their assets were reverted to the Crown for redistribution, but not before blood was spilled. Tashir Vanditera was caught in the crossroads, and was murdered to send a message.
The man following Jai through the city still wore Tashir’s pendant all these years later, which eventually Jai returned to Nythadri anonymously. The stalker led Jai to Winther, who possessed documents proving that the Kojima’s Bank was using private information about their Aes Sedai clients to take over Lynn House in Caemlyn, corruption mediated by Winther. Ellis was Zakar’s contact in Caemlyn, and was setting up Lynn to take the fall as he was their Chairman. Jai understood exactly what his brother, Zakar, was doing, and had to put a stop to it. He destroyed all the evidence of the Kojima’s involvement, killed one of the men following him from the palace, and kidnapped Ellis, who was delivered via gateway to their bank in Tar Valon.
But before doing so, he forced Ellis to anonymously donate the majority of his ill-gotten fortune to House Vanditera as retribution for the fraud, murder, and because he knew Nythadri’s family suffered as a result.
Up a couple flights to the executive offices, he was shown into one with an enormous desk set before a window. Pale drapes, a small sofa and a terrific view across the square completed Chairman Ellis’ writing office. ”Jai Asad Kojima for you, sir.”
His arrival announced, Aharon looked up from his work and Jai stepped around his escort,
“Asha’man Kojima, actually,” adding on the title. He clapped the guy on the shoulder and urged him out on orders to send up a contract drafter. Aharon rose to his feet, speechless, and looking him up and down. Stunned enough looking to think he witnessed the Lord of the Grave himself standing there. In a way, he kind of was. Depending on how this was going to go.Jai Kojima, Under Guard
Like finding out their institution was the filter for a client to funnel money back and forth across cities. Or that one of their own was embezzling. These guys didn’t care that the man bringing it to their attention could turn them simultaneously into piles of pink, soft as the velvet curtains spanning their magnificent windows, for the sake of his own amusement. They didn’t care about Jai’s title. They only cared about his last name; that he was a member of their competition. And the reputation of their own secure facilities remained in tact. A business position Jai actually respected. He wouldn’t press charges, and signed on behalf of the executive position he still held to such an end. A title if only in name. Zakar wouldn’t be pleased, but he could exact his own justice nonetheless. So long as they pursued legal action against Lord Winther and the matter taken all the way to the Crown.Jai Kojima, Under Guard
Lord Mathias Winther did not take well to the sleight to his House, the loss of his profits, or the overthrowing of his plots. The Crown indeed investigated, but the Lordly player of the Great Game pitted the Black Tower against him in defense, claiming that the Asha’man were plotting against them all. There was just enough suspicion that the Crown dismissed the charges against House Winther and Black Tower leadership was furious.
When Jai presented to the Tower, he thought it was to atone for leaving Arad Doman without permission. Little did he know that Winther’s allegations were leveled against him. He walked straight into his own punishment, which was a brutal and public beating by a line of Asha’man to the brink of what could be healed. He might have endured, but the M’Hael correctly inferred that the punishment was not duly setting. He took the one thing from Jai that could really punish him. He melted Asad’s sword, the family heirloom that was never meant for him, in front of him. And it utterly broke him as a result. The lesson was learned after that.
When their leader beckoned Dex from among the crowd of black coats, and took Jai’s sword into his hands, he then had its owner’s complete attention.
He said, turning and sliding the blade from its sheathe out as he did. Anger and pain throbbed indiscriminately as Jai carefully watched his leader invade his property. Expecting him to turn it into some form of torture any moment. A comment about its original owner, perhaps. Or of a family descended from dishonor. But the M’Hael did no such thing. He tested the blade’s balance in his hands and found the sweet spot on the hilt to wrap his fingers. He appreciated the careful polish and studied the extinct steelmaker’s mark.
“This is Malkieri,” he said almost to himself, though those closest heard him. Jai shot the faces swinging between back and forth between them a clear, but unspoken affirmation. Yes. It is. And dared them to question it. The M’Hael looked him dead in the eye and responded, cold as Malkier’s national veins, “I almost hate to do this.”
All appreciation for the blade vanished, and he took saidin.
Understanding flooded in.
Jai rushed forward foolishly, then stopped. If he was powerless against Lennox, he stood no chance against the M’Hael. Their gazes locked half a heartbeat then Jai shook his head, pleading. “Please don’t.”
And he was right. He could do nothing.Jai Kojima, Under Guard
Jai ended up not of his own planning back in Tar Valon. Asha’man Araya found him on the grounds, having confronted Asha’man Lennox while falling down drunk. The blademaster crushed him in minutes, and Araya’s pity carried him toward Tar Valon, where he called upon Sisters for help. He encountered his middle brother, Andreu, in a tavern playing cards. Andreu was near to discovering the mole in the Kojima’s bank, the very position Zakar falsely pinned on Jai. Knowing that once Andreu made the connection, their family would be torn apart. So Jai confessed to the crimes, using his knowledge of Ellis and the conspiracy as proof that he was its instigator. He claimed to be done with his family and implored Andreu to stop digging.
Andreu believed the lie all too well. A short time later, he committed suicide.
House Vanditera’s sudden fortune ended in Nythadri’s hands. The story is told in Loose Ends and Dealing with Bankers.
Treating with an Enemy
The treaty between Arad Doman and the Seanchan progressed. A High Lord of the Blood coveted a Gaidar of the Tower, whom Daryen had paraded through the celebrations following the Hunt. None was aware of Trista’s true purpose, but she became a bartering chip in the treaty that enabled it to be signed all the swifter. Arad Doman was at peace with Seanchan and would formally recognize their former enemy as land owners. Jai was torn up over looming peace with those he previously hunted himself, and was largely excluded from the politicking behind closed doors.
He found himself a piece on a gameboard he did not understand – caught between the White Tower and movements of Darkfriends. This story is told in The Gift and the Pledge (part 2) and The Point of No Return.
His life changed because of Nythadri. After the loss of Asad’s sword, it was her that became a touchstone to sanity and connection to the light. He did not learn of Nythadri’s rise to Aes Sedai until the news of Andreu’s suicide reached him in a letter written by her own hand. He was quietly hurt to be the last to know, but grief and guilt over pushing his brother’s paranoia over the edge of what he could handle blacked out any desires for himself. He asked to see her several times, but she had suddenly disappeared from the White Tower, and none seemed to know where she had gone
Jon Foxsus – Owner of the Golden Fox inn and tavern. He was Jai’s best friend growing up despite the enormous gap between the two families in social structure.
Jaslene (Foxsus) Basinthe – Jon’s sister. Jai’s first love and boyhood crush. He wanted to propose to her but was distracted by the testers from the Black tower. After being discovered he could channel, he never got the chance. She has red curly hair, a bubbly personality and big smile. She’s now having an affair with Zakar, and she never loved Jai the way he loved her.
Mikel Basinthe – Jai and Jon’s other best friend growing up. He became a Tower Guard, just like Jai always planned to do (he was going to blow off the banking business and become a Guard). He ended up marrying Jaslene.
Lt. Tomdry – a veteran lieutenant in the Dragon’s Legion. On a campaign near the blightborder, he led the charge to save the life of a single Asha’man that had become so exhausted and wounded, he foolishly took on a Fade single-handedly, sword to sword. The Fade cut him down, slicing up his belly, and Tomdry and his men valiantly charged. They killed the Fade, but at the cost of all their lives, and saved the Asha’man so he could be healed. That Asha’man was Jai in his first battle after gaining the Dragon pins. The tale was sung by a gleeman (Byron Calanail) in the Golden Fox, and while Jai’s name was left out, he recognized the tale as his own.
Daryen Daimon – Asha’man king of Arad Doman. Much stronger in the power than Jai. He is the one Jai reported to in Arad Doman to aid in battling the ongoing seanchan presence. They’ve been good friends and lovers for some time, although not in a romantic relationship per say. Jai also serves as a level of protection for Daryen and stays near him in court when not dismantling seanchan damane-houses, and was bonded by him for that purpose.
Fate Sedai – A sitter of the Brown Ajah and Daryen’s sister. Her machinations got Nythadri involved in plots in Arad Doman, entangling her with Jai. Jai met her in the Golden Fox, and made a bet to eat an entire ghost pepper without passing out. In exchange, he would get to ride one of her prized Razors. He survived, but accidentally blinded himself when he rubbed his hands in his eyes. He had to be healed to see again.
Lennox Orander – A very powerful Asha’man in the Black Tower and a blade master.
Araya – Asha’man of the Black Tower and former Tinker
Nythadri Vanditera – Aes Sedai
1st Age: Jay Carpenter
- Collecting on a wager
- The Hunt
- Under Guard
- Homeward Bound
- Living the Dream
- The Letter
- The Gift and the Pledge
- The Point of No Return
- Consorting with Enemies
“A Razor. I’ll pay any cost. But your .. countrymen .. are not so willing to sell. I don’t blame them. If I win, you find someone who will. Of a good age. Broken and trained.” He wasn’t sure if there were any unhealthy, sickly Razors out there, but might as well cover your terms well up front. Broken was a must. Trained? It wasn’t like he was sitting on the long years of the rest of his life. Taking 6 months training to ride the animal would be worth it for most men, but may not help him very much. “Sooner rather than later.” Aes Sedai may have hundreds of years ahead of them, but he calculated the odds for long life were lower for his kind.
She gave the go ahead and Jai prepped himself, folding his neck first one way and then the other, making a show of stretching his shoulders and cracking fingers, warm up worthy of serious wrestling. He took one last look at that pepper. Jon used to mention more often than not the hottest ones were green rather than red, small and wedged shaped rather than long and slender, and puckered rather than smooth. The slender thing in his palm couldn’t be that bad. Not like those wedged shaped green things he made the mistake of eating as a lad. Popping those bad boys in his mouth whole. He plucked the stem off and tossed it away. Then gripped each end and snapped it in half, bending and breaking like a dry twig to minimal spray of juice. The scent wafted up after that. The open pepper in the air was enough to burn at the corner of his eyes. He didn’t remember those green things doing that before.
A little hint of nerves touched his expression when he tore his eyes off the red-orange piece of art in his hands and checked Fate’s. That half a pepper settling in her drink. Might as go for it. He shrugged, took a deep breath, and popped the first half into his mouth.
The heat was very sudden, but surprisingly he found the flavor of fruit rather than pepper. But that thought was quickly replaced by the 3rd chew. The mild taste faded to heat and the burning started with the explosion of saliva and juice on his tongue, then the first swallow spread the pain toward the back of his throat. He kept his bearings, but the struggle was obvious. Airways from mouth to throat to ears erupted in ferociously hot pain, then as the remaining pulp and flesh and crunchy seeds left his mouth and journeyed down the gullet, he was suddenly aware of his stomach, and not in a my-guts-are-falling-out kind of way but in the -i’m-going-to-claw-my-own-guts-out-with-my-bare-hands kind of way.
His jaw dropped open to get some cool air between his teeth, but no relief, and still the other half of the pepper waiting. A deep breath again did nothing for relief, rather it re-circulated everything all over again. Bloody Jon! Doesn’t know what in the Blight he’s talking about! Red, slender, long peppers are not short, small, green ones. Yet this red spawn of the Blasted Lands was not heat, not pain, it was awful. It was sticking a bloody piece of coal in your mouth.
He stole a look up at Fate Sedai. “Its like swallowing cobra venom. Fun.” Sarcasm. Laced sarcasm.
How the hell did she sit there with not but flush on pretty cheeks? While Jai’s forehead erupted in sweat. It felt like his very eyeballs were going to swell and burst out of the sockets. Second deep breath and he reluctantly shoved in the other half of the pepper. This wave hit faster and hotter than the previous, if it was possible. The firebomb in his head burst out another layer of sweat, this time around his ear and along his hairline, brows collecting them and diverting the lines away from his eyes, which swelled with water, like every drop of water in his very body was trying to burst its way out. This swallow spread the heat down to the stomach, across his chest and warmed his very arms. He tried to get some cool air in again, but once more it did nothing but recirculate everything inside his head.
At some point, he wasn’t sure when, he had leaned forward, elbows on his knees and hands rubbing at the pressure between his temples. The wince had left his face, but he clearly struggled. If his luck held he’d pass out, at least that much happened when his blood sprayed a new layer on that Fade’s armor and guts fertilized the earth. But unfortunately, no such relief came. A few tortured minutes like that and it seemed the heat plateaued. He slid his hands from his temples and rubbed at the sweat layering across his eyelids.
“Jai, you are an idiot.” He heard Jon’s voice. Apparently his friend came over after Jai got through that first half and was standing with them ever since, even going so far as shared a few chatting words about sunset and ghost and cobra peppers with the Sitter. He even offered his friend the oosquai, but Jai heard not a sound of it. He didn’t hear anything until now. But he finished the pepper! Why call him an idio…..
“Blood and ashes…” Now he knew. Some of that pepper was on his hands, and he just rubbed his eyes. “Blood and bloody ashes!” What was the hot coal shoved onto his tongue was now pouring liquid steel straight from the smelter’s forge in his eyes. “Pit of Bloody Doom Jon! What are you buying these days?!” He looked around, looked up for Jon, looked for Fate. Saw nothing. A little panic hit him.
“Guys. I can’t see.”