WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Rebel Aes Sedai sharing tents inevitably forms or strengthens bonds between sisters and hopefully breaks down selfishness. Sheriam is accommodated by herself and uses a separate tent – Egwene’s - to work in. She has four times the space as the average Aes Sedai, so I guess that makes her four times more selfish and less cooperative.
Chesa, the maid Sheriam chose for Egwene, is very attached to Egwene and worries about her being captive. There was a time she was suspected of being a Darkfriend, but her concern shows she probably isn’t one.
Halima was the one punishing Sheriam. Not a great surprise, although Sheriam never commented that her abuser wasn’t using saidar. Presumably she has previously encountered Forsaken who hid their ability or weaves from her and assumed Halima was doing the same.
So being a member of the Black Ajah is rough, and Sheriam feels sorry for herself. She is not committed to the Shadow’s cause but is in it only for personal gain. She justifies her apostasy and treason by claiming that all Aes Sedai would backstab to get ahead and Black sisters just go that little bit further...It was very amusing that after Sheriam stops moaning she gets to savour peace for a few seconds and then senses a woman of great strength about to enter her tent. Mesaana isn’t hiding her ability this time, even though if Sheriam can sense her outside, so could other Aes Sedai nearby.
Sheriam assumes that someone very strong in the Power will be high in the Shadow’s hierarchy. (Aes Sedai follow a “might is right” policy like the Shadow, the only band of female channellers to do so.) Since she considers that this figure could be an exalted aide, she also knows that there are strong female channellers who aren’t Aes Sedai/Black Ajah. Sheriam is really alarmed by this figure whether Chosen or powerful servant.
Mesaana likes her black ribbons illusion; she wears it again in Towers of Midnight. It is customary to grovel for most Forsaken, but Mesaana is in a hurry this time and tells Sheriam to skip these preliminaries. I guess she is conscious that she shouldn’t waste time in the rebel camp because she hasn’t disguised her ability. She probably didn’t mask her strength in the Power to scare Sheriam into line quickly.
A Chosen ordered Sheriam to raise Egwene, or more properly to take up Siuan’s and Leane’s suggestion. Halima arrived in Salidar a few days before Egwene was summoned by the rebels to be raised, so it was probably she who gave the order. Mesaana wants Egwene deposed. She tells Sheriam to steal all 19 sleepweavers in 3 days to keep Aes Sedai out of Tel’aran’rhiod and then travels back to the White Tower without bothering to hide her destination from Sheriam. It is curious that she threatened to punish failure for her second, offhand command, but not her first command.
Egwene is determined to be dignified despite her abuse. She is beaten every day, denied clean clothes, and is only out of her unlit cell and seated on a chair because she has visitor. Her jailers are still following Tower law and allowing visitors.
Elaida’s tactic of showing off to the Sitters backfired since a senior member of five Ajahs witnessed her break the law. She tried to forestall a trial but failed. Her argument is that Egwene is a Darkfriend and so she expelled her from the Tower and then beat her. I don’t know how she justified this to herself, since no formal charges have been laid, and apart from being summary justice (illegal), it’s not the appropriate punishment for a Darkfriend anyway. The Tower is worse than a backward village:
"It will not stand," Seaine said, consolingly. "This is not some backward village, where the Dragon's Fang scrawled on someone's door is enough to convict."Elaida’s behaviour is not an offense for which she could be deposed. The maximum punishment is formal censure and a month’s penance. She would retain the shawl – an error: it should be stole. Elaida is losing credibility. Egwene worries that Elaida will hide her away and she will be inaccessible to visitors or unable to influence events.
Egwene raised an eyebrow. She'd been raised in "some backward village," and they'd had enough sense to look for more than rumors in convicting someone, no matter what the crime.
The Gathering Storm, In Darkness
The Tower is badly affected by the Dark One’s weakening of the Pattern, his spreading ofWrongness, perhaps because a Forsaken and so many Black Ajah are in residence. The blighting is less of a problem in the rebel camp, despite having about the same number of Black sisters, so maybe Mesaana makes the difference. Also, belief and order give strength, as Herid Fel wrote, and the Tower is very disordered and its residents are short on belief in the Tower’s administration and hold on events. The rebels are comparatively better focussed.
Yellow sisters are now in the basement and the second kitchen is on the sixth level. This kitchen will be needed soon, when the Tower reunifies and 1000 novices arrive; so it has risen in prominence, which is appropriate since food and nutrition are very important now. The Yellows have not been doing their bit to help against pestilence and have been dumped in the basement. However Yellow sisters should not have had rooms on the sixth level because the bottom half of the Tower is for communal use, not Ajah living quarters, according to The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.
The remainder of the novices have been brought up to the 21st and 22nd levels, so they too have risen in prominence and will soon save the Tower from the Seanchan. The Browns are now in the novice wing, symbolising that Aes Sedai are not as well trained or knowledgeable as they think. This is another error. The Tower was described as being divided vertically with the Ajahs each having equal pie-shaped wedges of each floor and not owning whole floors:
Each Ajah occupies one of seven pie-shaped sections in the top half of the huge main Tower containing living quarters for its members as well as meeting rooms and workrooms reserved for that Ajah, though some members of the Brown have rooms in or near the huge library as well. These sections are equal in size, although the Ajahs are not, but even the largest Ajah, the Red, does not come anywhere near filling its allotted space. The main Hall of the Tower and all common rooms are located in the lower half of the building.Egwene encourages Seaine and her fellow independent Sitters to remind the Hall and other Aes Sedai that the Last Battle approaches and they should work together, not divide further. She worries that Elaida could have her executed for falsely claiming to be Amyrlin, but decides to stay firmly on her chosen course. Belief has certainly given Egwene strength.
The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time