Still staring out the window, he nodded. There was no expression on his face—Lan could teach Aes Sedai about hiding emotions!—but a touch of heat entered his voice. “It’s coming soon, Nynaeve, yet al’Thor seems to think he has forever to dance with the Seanchan. Shadowspawn could be moving down through the Blight while we stand here, down through—” His mouth snapped shut. Down through Malkier, he had almost said, dead Malkier, the murdered land of his birth. She was sure of it. He went on as if he had not paused. “They could strike at Shienar, at the whole Borderlands, next week, or tomorrow. And al’Thor sits weaving his Seanchan schemes. He should send someone to convince King Easar and the others to return to their duty along the Blight. He should be marshaling all the force he can gather and taking it to the Blight. The Last Battle will be there, and at Shayol Ghul. The war is there.”
Sadness welled up in her, yet she managed to keep it out of her voice. “You have to go back,” she said quietly.
She gathered all of her courage and held on to it hard, so hard that she ached. She wanted to speak fast, to get the words out before courage failed, but she forced herself to a steady tone and an even pace. “A Borderland saying I heard from you once. ‘Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain.’ My duty lies here, making sure Alivia doesn’t kill Rand. But I will take you to the Borderlands. Your duty lies there. You want to go to Shienar? You mentioned King Easar and Shienar. And it is close to Malkier.”
Knife of Dreams, chapter 20 “The Golden Crane”.
This is a huge part of why Nynaeve and Lan are together. Shared values. They understand - and respect - how important honour and duty are to the other. Neither of them are the sort to turn away from a difficult task.
Different topic, but I think it’s sad that Lan refers to Rand as “al'Thor”. Lan’s been a mentor figure to Rand, he taught him to use his sword and how to stand up to Siuan, he’s called him sheepherder and given up all sorts of advice. And it’s not as if he’s talking to someone who might feel uncomfortable at the concept of being on first-name basis with the Dragon Reborn, he’s talking to Nynaeve. So his use of Rand’s surname really highlights how distant Lan feels from Rand. And maybe that’s Lan’s fault - or rather, the fault of the snapped-Warder-bond depression Lan’s still struggling with (which is totally not Lan’s fault) - but I suspect it’s really due to Rand trying to push everyone away…
I was contemplating this earlier today…the original Seanchan Aes Sedai.
We know from what little is discussed by the Seanchan how horrible these people were. That they were vastly different than the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends, let alone the Aes Sedai of the White Tower. That they were true monsters, users of the One Power who used it to take advantage and destroy and rule. And you know who they sound like?
Like the Forsaken.
What I suspect the Seanchan Aes Sedai may have been, at least the very oldest ones, were probably the Aes Sedai who went to the Shadow. As we know through the books, it was only the thirteen strongest Forsaken who were trapped in Shayol Ghul. There must have been hundreds more who weren’t trapped. They may have ended up in the area that would eventually become Seanchan.
It would explain why they never managed to form an organization similar to the White Tower, or even similar to the Sharan Ayyad. Horrifying as things are in Shara, the Ayyad demonstrated a set organizational structure. They were unified. Seanchan Aes Sedai fought against each other as much as they did non-Aes Sedai. Obviously, by the time Luthor Pendraeg ended up in Seanchan, the original, likely predominately Forsaken Aes Sedai were dead, but not their descendants. Much like their ancestors, they may have been raised into serving the Dark One. They demonstrated the selfish, destructive tendencies we say out of numerous Darkfriends and most of the Big 13 Forsaken.
But the Seanchan Aes Sedai were also connected to what they called the ‘Armies of the Night’ which sounds more an organization that would serve the Shadow. It also could explain how things like ravens would end up as imperial signs. If the Pendraegs adopted symbols from the Seanchan side of things, it would make sense for Shadow-hinted aspects to be there.
Likely this entire idea is going to be discounted by the Companion, but we’ll see.
You think you’re going to Shayol Ghul?” Rubinde asked, incredulous.
“I’m going to be there,” Nynaeve said softly. “It is not a question. Rand has asked it of me, though I would have gone if he hadn’t.
Towers of Midnight, chapter 20
I love how this captures the difference in perspective between Nynaeve (and others who know Rand personally) and those who only know him as the Dragon Reborn.
For Aes Sedai like Rubinde, going to Shayol Ghul along side Rand would be such a big deal - a terrifying honour and responsibility that is so unlikely to befall them that it is practically unimaginable.
But for Nynaeve, it is just something that of course she’s going to do.