“If you are afraid of the dark, make a friend of it.”
In the Age of Legends Lilis Moiraim was an advisor of investments who frequently overstepped ethical boundaries. She was defined by her self-serving nature and turned to the Shadow during the Collapse, long before the War of Power began. During this time she negotiated herself into a mid-level position in Lews Therin’s cabinet and used her influence to spy on and undermine the Light’s forces, instigating several major disasters.
She was an unremarkable and unassuming woman, who many would have described as personable. Lilis used this to her advantage, staying hidden for many years. None ever suspected her, and little has ever been gleaned of her motivations and intentions.
The War of Power
When Lilis’ allegiances were eventually uncovered, she barely managed to escape with her life, setting up a public transport disaster as a diversion which ended up killing thousands of innocent people. Afterwards she sat at the head of the Shadow’s main intelligence and spy network, a task which she excelled at. Only Belshazzar ever came close to rivalling her. Yet in contrast to the efforts of her fellow Chosen, Lilis’ work was completed almost entirely in shadows, a mystery that largely perpetuated the notion she saw through the eyes of spiders, snakes, and other vermin. Indeed, Lilis seemed to know everything, but the backbone of her realm was not that of court and kings.
Though she never served as a general, nor wished to, her machinations killed thousands of innocents and sowed terror amongst the populace. It is perhaps notable that none of her crimes were levelled against individuals, or were committed in person. Neither did she ever take on any role of governance. In fact, whilst other Chosen proclaimed their allegiances boldly, she disappeared almost entirely from public life, and used a plethora of aliases amongst her followers, many of whom never saw her face – in the flesh or in the dream. Not even her fellow Chosen knew the full extent of her reach and schemes, nor would have ever thought to associate her unassuming self with the nature of the vast network of informants she ran.
Lilis had in fact over many long years instigated widespread prostitution rings, gladiatorial pits, thief guilds, and other criminal cartels which were beholden to her. In this way she kept informed, exerted her influence, and was responsible for the spread of malfeasance and vice amongst a once utopian society. Whilst the other Chosen were consumed with the politics of war, governance, and power, Lilis grew herself into a myth – for a myth is the one thing impossible to kill. Thus it was amongst the common people her reputation grew, and after her sealing in the Bore, it flew on dark wings indeed.
Lilis was a strong channeler, but among the weakest of the Chosen. Beyond her natural inclination for subterfuge and sabotage, her most exemplary gift was masterful command in the World of Dreams. It was a talent she nominally kept to herself in order to best use it to her advantage. Though she was never credited as such, her talents and understanding of Tel’aran’rhiod far surpassed that of the other Chosen, despite bold claims to the contrary. But there was another who outstripped even her prowess. She had always disliked Asristin Kyrineas for his ability to conceal things even she could not unearth there, yet when the Dark One openly coveted his skills, she was reluctant to confront him directly in the dream. Instead she argued to target Alethea Sayre, suggesting a mindtrap would make the woman biddable, and that they might use her as a weapon or lure. She was branded a coward by the other Chosen as a result, instigated by the insults of Ezra Rashka.
In anger of the way she was dismissed, Lilis influenced the Aes Sedai Elon Izban into Turning Asristin to the Shadow against his will: an act that almost won them the war, but which was never attributed to Lilis’ scheming.
Lilis’ mythos spread wildly in the time to follow, in part owing to how little was truly known about her and the hidden and insidious way she had served for the Shadow. She became known as Merihem, named after a Blight beast known to crawl inside its sleeping victim’s ear to secrete its poison.
In the Age to follow she was often depicted as a mysterious veiled woman, becoming a fearful tale of vice used to frighten children into obedience. Bad dreams were often attributed to her whispering and deceitful influence, and through her association with insects and vermin it was thought she directed the eyes of the Dark One’s spies herself, even from the Bore. Given the inhuman spectre of her legacy, and her sometimes moniker of Mother of Vice, some stories even whispered her to be the dread consort of the Dark One himself (to the general ridicule of her contemporaries after their release), and in the early days of the Chosen’s return frightful tales circulated that said she rose ripe with the Dark One’s own spawn.
Whatever the truth, the mystique and fear of the figure of Merihem persists nonetheless, and Lilis uses it to her advantage.
Upon her release from the Bore, she went immediately into hiding in order to reassess and understand this new world. She had no interest in garnering her own power base, continuing instead to operate from the shadows. What Lilis wants now is unknown.
After so many years to flourish, her network and reach is extensive, spanning nations and courts. She seems to have little to do with the other Chosen.
- Lady Eisheth Winther, widow of the High Seat’s brother. She was his second wife, his heirs already secured by his previous marriage. Eisheth is a long-standing member of the Caemlyn court, an elegant and understated woman. Through this alias she has influenced the Winther’s participation in the Kojima Bank fraud, though she does so entirely from behind the scenes. Recently she has secured a place on the train sent north by Andor’s Queen, as companion to Nicole Candraed.
Secrets and Schemes
Nature or Nurture
When Lilis was released she immediately went to ground in order to relearn the new world. Given all her previous networks were embedded in the criminal underworld, she turned first to what she knew would be a timeless institution in any Age: prostitution. It was a short-lived masquerade whilst she assessed the new lay of power and sought out allies of the Shadow. Crucially, she wished to understand who wielded the power now, and whether they would be friend or foe once their authority was superseded by the return of the Forsaken. As ever, it was information she discovered the heart of quickly, and it was also how she first encountered Arikan, then rising to the height of his power.
The recognition shocked her, for his was a soul she had known before. The plan changed; Lilis kept her cards close to her chest and did not reveal herself. Truthfully she was afraid of discovery, though he showed no recognition of her in turn. Nothing in his mannerisms had changed in this new form. He was prefunctionary and traditional in his desires, and Lilis played her part. But she was caught off guard when she later realised a child had resulted. Perhaps surprisingly, she never considered methods that might have rid herself of the problem. Yet neither did she raise the child.
To be the progeny of one of the Chosen would be both a boon and a curse to lay upon a child, and she had no intention of raising her son to an entitled legacy. He would need to earn it, and more, he would need to learn to survive it. For the other Chosen would never take kindly to a threat to their own authority and standing.
The boy was left to be raised on the streets of Caemlyn, somewhere Lilis had decided was a safer environment than other cities and nations. She wanted him strong, not dead. Though she watched over him she never interfered in the cruelties inflicted upon him by the men who took him in. The warmth of pride in her chest was something she long dwelt over as the years rolled on and he exacted his revenge for himself, but she never revealed herself to him. For though Lilis waited to see evidence of his channeling nature, the proof never materialised, until she was forced to acknowledge that her son was entirely mortal and she would long outlive him.
Whether it was his blood or his raising, Lilis sometimes marvelled over how much they were alike. The only time she almost interceded was when he landed himself in a jail cell, and failed to find an escape. Fever rattled his bones, and Lilis had never experienced such a deep rooted sense of angry protectiveness like it. Yet when Corele Taravin discovered him, and took him to train at the White Tower, Lilis did not prevent it. She reasoned that in the bosom of the Light was the safest place he could be, for it was the last place anyone might expect, and afforded him a unique protection.
The close eye she maintained on him meant she was the first of the Chosen aware that Arikan had not been killed during the battle of Tar Valon, and she has informed none of the others of the threat. After Lythia’s protections lapsed, Lilis shields her son’s dreams from the expected retaliation now that Arikan is loose.
She is the only one aware of how Arikan’s own son was the man used to torture him almost to his death.
The child was Byron Calanail.
The Last Place
Desiring to remain near her son, Lilis has long had aliases and ties in Andor. Following Raviel’s unceremonious oust from power by the Dragon himself, she dug in deeper, realising a city of such high alert was the last place anyone would expect her to secure power for herself. When posing as Eisheth Winther, she employs an intricate disguise. No Aes Sedai would be able to pierce the glamour of her illusion, and even the other Chosen might be fooled by her prowess — all excepting Jole.
Patient years have passed in which Lilis has quietly ingratiated herself with the Dragon’s own wife, the Queen of Andor. Few would have anticipated her to take such a risk, yet few know the real Lilis.
She has served as a spy mistress for the Queen for a number of years now, utterly secret from the Court of Caemlyn, who see only a reserved and ultimately forgettable widow. It is unlikely that even the Queen’s Aes Sedai advisers, of whom some are even Ajah sisters, know the full extent of Eisheth’s relationship with her. With her mastery of Tel’aran’rhiod, Lilis pierces all the petty secrets of the nobility, and thus has made herself an invaluable asset to the throne. One kept far in the shadow of the crown.
It affords a great deal of power; she controls the flow of information in and out of Andor. Yet it might be noted that she is one of the few Chosen who has no active dealings with ushering the Seanchan onto their shores. In truth she finds it a poor tactic.
It is in her capacity as a trusted spy-mistress that Lilis will travel north with the Lady Graciela and Nicole Candraed, to “determine” if the Tower was right to send no aid to the Borderlands.
Lilis has another reason for her attachment to Caemlyn, and that came upon her discovery that Arikan was not in fact dead and buried. Reluctant to risk facing him in Tel’aran’rhiod alone, she intends to use others as her weapons. During the battle of Tar Valon it was two Aes Sedai, Corele and Rikela, who were able to thwart him. The mysterious Rikela Reialore is beyond her easy reach, but the former Aes Sedai Corele Taravin is ensconced in the Caemlyn Court itself, a burned out shell of what she once was. Lilis will use the journey north to Shienar to win her friendship, and convince her of the threat he poses, encouraging the woman to once more walk the Dream.
There is a third, too, who may be of use against him.
Though she has long been aware of Kamaris‘ frivolities in the Dreamworld, and with whom, Lilis has never intervened. Now that Hessalam has been made subservient, her pet Shae has hidden herself away, and even Lilis has been unable to discover her. Neither has she been able to discern the woman’s waking identity, information she suspects Kamaris neither knew nor cared to find out. That she is an Aes Sedai is the only certainty.
A Dark Inheritance
Byron was barely grown himself when he sired his own children; two twin girls, who Lilis has also watched from afar over the years. She nudged Byron towards vengeance when Elseen was killed, and observes Elsae closely now that she is ensconced in the White Tower. Her dreams are protected, her very star hidden away. Yet there was nothing Lilis might do to prevent the Arch anomaly, which pulled Arikan’s very thread, and alerted him to Elsae’s existence. A revelation Lilis is vastly unhappy with.
A Soul of Two Halves
In this life, as in all her lives, there is a great discrepancy between the woman she is, and the myths and stories she allows to surround herself. Among the people she is a mysterious figure engendering great fear, yet among the Forsaken she is regarded as a coward.
Ultimately, hers is a soul of survival, marked with the resilience to rise from the ashes. She is born in times of cataclysm, often working as an influence in mass destruction.
1st Age: Nesrin Aziz
2nd Age: Lilis Moiraim, an advisor of no real note in the Age of Legends who used her position to sabotage the forces of the Light.
3rd Age: The Forsaken, Merihem
5th Age: Naamah, Angel of Prostitution, and instigator of the fall of the Watchers, which ultimately led to the earth being wiped clean in the Flood.
6th Age: Angrboða, Norse jötunn integral to the final destruction of the gods of the 6th Age.