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Lih-Lyh

Enlightenment in Art (Attn: Astradore; open to all)

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Ooc: anybody can feel free to join in. Just two white sisters walking around Tower looking at artwork, talking

 

In the end, nothing was explained about the disappearance of Lillian Tremina, how she returned, or about the time she was kidnapped. 

 

She didn’t need to tell her sisters these things. Not when there were more pressing matters cropping up by the day. The Tower was the same, but the feel different. More urgency. Imperceptible faces seeming troubled, somehow. Of course they made changes - new rules - while she was away. 

 

Yes, the Wheel wove as it willed. If only she understood that Weaving better. Lillian secretly wished for better days when she spent her youth immersed in research, isolated from affairs. The more she travelled, the more questions she had of the world, of her place in it.

 

In one lower hallway in the eastern wing, she came upon another weaving, a tapestry that especially arrested her interest. It celebrated a feast in that golden age before the breaking - the age of legends when there was peace and no disease. When channelers were many and drew on their power for mundane use, not in defense against one another. When channelers didn’t train to kill others. A discomforting thought . . . 

 

In the Tower was a treasure trove of art from all over, some escaped Lillian’s comprehension. The art was elegantly displayed in lit alcoves in many iterations all over passageways. Sculptures, busts, paintings, woodcuts, scenes of unnamed landscapes, ancient maps and even studies of wildlife, animals cut open and splayed in cross sections.  

 

She understood some of it. 

 

There was a flowing dialogue between art and science, and between science and their culture at large. It was not normal to consider art analytically, reductionistic to do so; however, each of these artists honed a distinct way of expression of the unconscious, of the instinctive, brought insight, patterns, added richness and complexity to the viewer’s feelings.

 

After some moment, she stooped down to peer at a portrait of a noblewoman and her family. Their faces worn, a rich patina covered once vibrant detail. What were their underlying feelings, bred to the game of houses; did they appreciate their privileges?

 

At this thought Lillian rose and turned, brushing at her wide silver trousers. A petite White sister stood nearby, watching her. Lillian knew the woman, in libraries mostly, by her blue eyes, striking against her dark skin, by name and sight only.  

 

Smiling, Lillian said “Astradore, good to see you.”

 

Lillian Tremina

Aes Sedai of the White Tower

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Astradore left the library, securely fastening her small scrip closed. She had needed some new ink and quills, and preferred selecting her own quills than leaving it up to a servant to do. The Aes Sedai was all about a cultured appearance, right down to the appearance and quality of the every-day things she carried, and that included her quills.

 

And having a pristine appearance was going to be important, she thought, for dealing with whatever she was going to find at the Black Tower, if indeed she really was going to accompany Jagen there. She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. What was she going to do, when it came time? Perhaps one of her own Sitters could give her a task, to let her out of this one.

 

Was she being illogical? She wondered on it as she rounded a corner, only to see a fellow White, Lillian. Of course, she was close to their Ajah quarters. She looked at the painting Lillian was looking at herself. A noble family. Astradore could not place where they were from, based on the clothes, but she gave a haphazard guess at Cairhein. They looked short and pale enough.

 

Lillian turned and smiled at her. “Astradore, good to see you.”

 

"And you, Lillian." She moved up to join her. "Do you know who they are? Or simply contemplating?"

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"No, I don't know."

 

Traveling the world made Lillian realize something, which was that strength had no limits. 

It wasn't just because she had experience Jav'aran's power first hand. She had many experiences, like fighting trollocs in the borderland, like when they had first come in contact with the Asha'aman, and the abnormal situations happening every day - those things made her understand that regardless of how strong Aes Sedai became, there was still room for improvement.

 

That fact didn't make her feel bored, or particularly troubled. It was exciting to grow stronger, together, with her sisters here, in the place of her girlhood.

 

However, in that case, how strong would she and her sisters have to get in order to use their full strength?

 

She didn't know the answer here, either.

 

But she could not stand still. It was not her way.

 

Studying, getting lost, and finding a path. For her, the important part was moving forward. 

 

I should choose a side soon.

 

Regardless of the choice, they treaded into a gray area of ethics. Society at large would not, could not, accept this.

 

Regardless of the choice, there would be people who would explain with logic.

That choice would not make people agree emotionally.

 

It would be interesting to hear what her fellow sister of the White Ajah thought of their current choices with the Black Tower. It would better inform her own reasoning.

 

She sighed at her own indecisiveness at this moment.

 

"I suppose it doesn't matter. Art always bring out some emotion for me. I'm simply wishing to understand more clearly my doctrinal positioning, parse out and embrace these new feelings  . . . I saw a tapestry that recalled the age of legends in which channelers didn't train to kill others. If such peace could come to us, it would not be easy for us to forge." 

 

Lillian Tremina

Aes Sedai of the White Ajah

 

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Astradore thought she perhaps knew this tapestry Lillian referred to, though there were a few which depicted scenes of wonder from that past age. And while Aes Sedai did not necessarily train to kill either, they did have to focus on some amount of battle weaves to fight Shadowspawn.

 

"I almost wonder if we are better off now, or worse, than in the Age of Legends, to fight when the time comes. You bring up a good point. Aes Sedai back then could conduct such wondrous feats we have lost the weaves for, but they did not know how to fight, did they?" She took in a breath and let it out slowly. "Perhaps that was why Lews Therin and his Companions were on their own. Everyone else saw they could not truly fight."

 

It did not mean she supported what happened back then or how it happened; it simply was history. The Wheel wove its Pattern.


"What is it, sister, you are examining, precisely?" she asked of Lillian.

Edited by Jagen Sedai

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"What is it, sister, you are examining, precisely?" 

 

Why had Astradore’s thoughtful words brought up images of her parents?

 

As she looked at Astradore who was her younger sister by two decades, she pondered on the feelings welling up in her. That feeling was that of a child. Though it did not recall the event itself, or any particular memory, it was the feeling that only children who were cared for as orphans would have. That complicated things considerably; how she wanted to return to the starting line leaving behind the gloomy thought. Her expression turned serious as she considered Astradore’s words some more. 

 

Were Lillian and her sisters lucky to have learnt how to fight? True, you would have laughed to see mundane tasks that channelers back then used their powers for. Laundry. Bathing. Cooking. Lighting a pipe. Things that seemed silly. In a world with no disease  No violence. In such a world her parents would have been alive until old age. 

 

“Hum. This makes sense. There were many more channelers then, usage of the one power was commonplace, but nobody needed to know how to fight. Yes, it could explain the attitude toward the companions."

 

Lillian nodded, considering her next step. She could think step by step. Step by step. 

 

“I am considering how we fight with the power today. Astradore . . . if it were you, you can definitely support us to fight . . . how do you determine what the right action is ? How do we do the least harm while preparing for the last battle?"

 

She wanted to say more but stopped.

 

She needed to listen.

 

To understand her sisters' thinking across all Ajahs.

 

She must confirm it. How to best support the Tower’s agenda; what the agenda was first.

 

Lillian decided to strive forward. She would go with her sisters, and take responsibility for their action. They could answer these questions together.

 

Her heart eased. She was with family now.

 

Lillian Tremina

Aes Sedai of the White Ajah

 

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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Astradore drew herself up slightly. It was a heavy question. How did one fight a war with doing the least to cause harm? Aes Sedai were trained to fight only to an extent; after one passed the oval testing and gained the shawl, there was not much more she learned as far as battle weaves went. Maybe those among the Green Ajah taught such weaves; they did have that nickname, after all. Astradore had been thinking about that a lot, lately. She had been thinking about many dark things she had never considered before.

 

"Each sister has her strengths," she began carefully, trying to organize now-tumbling thoughts. Goodness, she had her ideas, but convention kept her from voicing them. It wasn't that she could not say them. Rather, she was worried how her sisters would react to her ideas; especially those in the White. "We also have our weaknesses. We know the Greens will fight directly against the Shadowspawn, when the Last Battle comes." She paused, then added almost as an offhand note, "And perhaps even the Reds, with the Asha'man at their side." Goodness, what a change that was. She wished she had her shawl on. Just to have an extra layer of comfort.

She frowned inwardly at the illogical thought.

 

"The Yellows will offer Healing, and I think any sister who has the ability to Heal, even a mediocre ability, would best be used in such a fashion. Others can make gateways." Perhaps she would do this. Perhaps. "How each Ajah decides to support each other be will up to them. But was your question referring to us as a whole, the White Tower? Our Ajah? Or just us--you and I?" Her eyebrows rose as she asked the questions. "Who is it you do not want to do harm to? In a fight against the Shadow, is their such a thing as collateral damage?" She blinked as she realized the last question that came out of her mouth. "Forgive me, sister. I wonder if I am over-complicating your question."

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These last months - after the tension at the borderlands, the exhaustion, the alertness of camp - it was restful just to be back here gazing at fine artwork. Lillian stared up at the heroic figures painted on the roof of the passageway. She had no idea who they were supposed to represent. Some great act of triumph that clearly involved arms thrusting in the air while shouting. The brown sisters would know, and maybe Astradore too.

 

Thinking furiously, Lillian fell into contemplation of Astradore’s reply. There was a lot to unpack here. She felt surprised by Astradore’s questions. It wasn’t difficult as questions go, but she could not answer right then. Her sister’s candor had been a refreshing departure from empty words she expected. In the bigger world, there were many empty sentences. Many conclusions which Lillian did not reach, words she did not believe. Her experience with this made Lillian listen more carefully to what people meant, instead of what they said. It mattered that Astradore had a soft, clean voice that communicated reason and sincerity and trust. It was a reply worth Lillian’s honesty; she searched for inner truth, sifting through her emotions foremost.

 

Worried?

 

She didn’t worry about the upcoming battle. There was a high possibility of this battle coming during her lifetime, and the shadow attacking the tower. Unable to run away, they had to face the crisis. This feeling was different from worrying. Either way, she was prepared for the reality that the last battle would come near. Come to think of it yes this burden was heavy and real, but if she lost to that pressure, she would have died under that woman's torture before. 

 

Considering her own death did not bother her. Being aes sedai gave her buffs to a longer life and better health than she naturally would have at seventy-eight. Lillian was determined not to waste the time she had left.

 

To her, what mattered was moving forward the best she could while supporting her sisters.

 

Then the worry was . . . Ahh.

 

“Sister, you are wise to consider the framework of my question . . . If it pertained to the tower as a whole, our Ajah, or just we two.” Lillian spoke quietly. “This concerns me and you, and our ties here. For decades, the tower has groomed and fed me, and you, physically, spiritually. This tower has developed us because it is necessary to uphold what’s right, to fight to enforce what’s right if necessary. In return, I am thankful for the education, the training. How lucky we are both born with the spark to harness power to enforce what’s right, the means with which to defeat our enemies. We allow ourselves to be sworn, to be employed at the behest of the tower, to carry out decisions by the amyrlin and the ajah sitters. These decisions are made with great and terrible care, with ethical considerations and heavy hearts from all involved. As aes sedai long sworn to the tower, there must be no place inside us for doubt or questions. Belief is simple. Clean."

 

“Yet my thinking changes. A seed of doubt has taken hold of me, spreading a tendril here and there; I do not, cannot stop thinking these doubts. I concern myself with effects from these wise decisions to guide the rest of the world, even as ever I'm loyal to the tower.” she nodded, deciding to tell the entire truth. "Even if we’re spreading the truth, and our truth is right, many disagree and fight against our reasons, our decisions, our version of the truth we essay."

 

Smiling, she explained further "Our teachers and books tell us the world in which we live is a broad space, and that much I have seen. Can we not just leave people alone and ignore them? Whether our truth is right or not, must we always enforce it on the unwilling?" 

 

“Then it occurs to me. If I see a little girl who is drowning I’d go save her. Even if she fights me off as I try to save her because she is afraid of me, I’d save her. I am not that good-natured to leave her alone; she has not learnt to swim and must be saved. This is the conclusion I reach to save the unwilling.”

 

“In this way, I allow the human part in me to fret and empathize. I retain the ability to judge, not as an instrument would. In this way, I overstep my bounds as an instrument developed to enforce the decisions of the tower. But here another idea occurs to me, and this is more interesting. It is our job as aes sedai to watch over the moral health of the tower. To guide and shape its philosophy. To do this, only instruments, only weapons who question their uses have value. Our sisters, our comrades, our friends who can talk out our private concerns and share troubles with freely; this is the most important duty we serve. To consider any argument, any policy and find fault with it, or else find the counter position to offer. We are tools who have doubt, and that’s useful to figure out what’s right and true, then help others see for themselves."

 

"It’s not that we have power that we are right. It’s because we are right, that people trust in us being right, that we grow powerful. Our will to embrace our emotions, to always doubt is what gives us this right. To this end, I want to help the reds with the asha’aman, even if it scares me. Not to bond him, bend him, or break him; to share ideas and hear for myself his beliefs, listen to his arguments, his truths. To consider and judge again our empathic feelings, our reacting doubts eventually showing us what’s true, what’s right. This truth is what each sister needs to confirm herself. And yet, it's so helpful to talk out our thoughts with one another before it is honed and sits as a matter for the hall.”  

 

Lillian hoped she didn't exhaust Astradore with the length of her thoughts. It was so exciting to talk to somebody honestly she forgot to politely pace herself. Maybe they should have a drink. She was parched from all that talking.

 

Lillian Tremina

Aes Sedai of the White Ajah

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Astradore only gave a small nod after her sister finished, feeling almost overwhelmed. Her sister gave her a lot to unpack. The younger White liked to spend her time more on mathematics than on philosophy, but all well ground Whites spent at least a bit of time on both. Still, math was her strong suit, and she didn't have much to add to Lillian's sudden speech.

 

She knew Lillian was parched just from listening to her voice, and so Astradore said, "Let's find a cup of tea, sister." She began walking toward a set of winding stairs, to one of many sitting rooms spread around the common areas of the Tower.

 

"I agree with your assessment of the situation, and the reasons why. It is why I, also, will be going. But I do wonder sister, why do you talk about your realizations as seeds of doubt? Is it because, perhaps," she suggested with a casual shrug of the shoulders, "that in our ways, stuck in the Tower as we are, we forget what it is like to live as a normal, average person does? Do we actually forget what sometimes matters?"

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Lillian gave a rather embarrassed laugh. “You’ve hit it, Astradore. I’m puzzled as to what to do sometimes. We remove ourselves from the greater world of politics and reason our theories from the safety of our studies. What happens when we are exposed to real world dangers, and our perfectly normal feelings?"

 
Sipping her tea - good and strong just how she preferred - Lillian smiled at the younger white sister. 
 
“Have you found what matters to you?” She remembered her own vigil and oaths and how traumatic that experience had been. How in touch with her emotions she had been. “Tell me how you feel."
 
Lillian Tremina
Edited by Lih-Lyh

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Astradore folded her hands as they walked. They soon reached one of the common rooms, which was big and mostly empty except for a sister reading in a far corner. She led them to a seat by a window, and told a servant to bring them tea.

 

"What matters to me? What I do, if I gave a short answer." She smiled momentarily, then became serious. "We cannot fault ourselves for what we do. There are soldiers in the world who fight. There are cooks to make food and innkeepers to help travelers sleep at night. As an Aes Sedai, of the White, I feel I am doing exactly what we need to do." She eyed Lillian, then asked, "Have you heard about the new school founded in Cairhein, for inventors? It is extremely intriguing. Imagine what will be discovered and put to use there. We know the Age of Legends had far greater technology--there is surely some measure of truth to the rumors. It is not unreasonable to think this will help humanity move forward. My own work in mathematics may seem unimportant to a farmer, but such a subject is used in ways that a farmer would not think about--yet it benefits him. He thinks in mathematics, for example--when to plant and went to sow. This is not an unimportant detail, but a big part of his method."

 

The tea arrived quickly, with honey and milk on the side. Astradore waited for the girl to curtsy and depart before continuing. "I could give more examples, but my point is this. Who knows what steps we take now will affect the Pattern in the coming times, or even the next Age? Each Age may have its own Pattern woven, but it is clear that what happened in the Age of Legends effects us today. The beginning threads of the Age are laid at the end of the previous age." She put honey and milk both in her tea; mostly to cover up the somewhat sour taste from spoilage that could rarely be avoided these days. "Thus my short answer is--I am doing exactly what I need to be doing, as there is someone else doing what needs to be done in their field. I am satisfied with where I am; attaining the knowledge that mathematics offers is what matters to me."

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Lillian blinked. She realized she was swaying a little, so she steadied herself against the tall back of her chair. The new school for inventors was news to her. She was not smiling. The importance of something like that, she understood immediately. Just in strategic terms alone . . . this impressed her. She must visit Cairhein, soon.

 

“I see.” Lillian said slowly, looking at Astradore. She was only two decades the other’s senior, but there seemed to be a gulf between them. “Well, that must be wonderful. You speak wisely, sister. Back in the old times, ages past, there were weaves intended for mundane use, including that of a farm, which are lost to us. Long gone are those ages, but this new age we can rediscover lost knowledge and forge new technologies. It’s a great honor to be an inventor, for a person to take up that duty of technological advancement. In this regard, mathematics has its uses. Discipline being one of them.” 

 

 Before her advancement into white ajah ranks, and the diamond philosophy of humanity, Lillian enjoyed maths. There was so much discipline, in the works and words of mathematics, which appealed to her logical thinking side. Even when it was complicated, the answer was simplicity itself - following the rules of logic infallibly. Mathematics arranged and ordered the world in ways chaotic words couldn’t. Without discipline in one’s words and action, what madness would that lead?

 

“Of course, not everybody can be soldiers. We must do what drives us, our work and loves. That must be why we have all these ajahs, each sister pursuing her interests.” 

 

It was good for her to reconnect with new sisters inside the ajah. She would go check out this new school of inventors and see what they came up with. It was a good tool; however, research was slow. You could spend years trying to invent something useful, and they didn’t have the luxury of time, so she understood. 

 

“We should get back to work,” Lillian said, standing up “there are students to teach, and arrangements to be made. Meanwhile, are you going to this school?"

 

If so, when?

 

Lillian Tremina

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"You said we have the Ajahs so each sister can pursue her interest. I think it is not just her interest, but a task that is important. Many of us seemingly are very wrapped up in our work--the Browns certainly seem that way, for example, and us too--but every one is going to contribute something important. At least, I like to think so."

 

Astradore took a few swallows of tea. "I am not sure when I am going to visit, but it should be soon, I suppose. There is no logic in delaying, is there?" she asked, giving a small smile.

 

She stayed seated as Lillian stood; she suddenly seemed to be in a rush, and wondered if something she said was bothering Lillian. "Are you wanting to accompany me to the school? I would like to check on some of the rumors of what they have there."

 

 

Astradore Amare

White Ajah Sister

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Lillian nodded, impressed by the younger aes sedai’s insight. She answered directly, her voice rich with the lilting vowel sounds of the domani accent. 

 

“Yes we take our responsibility seriously, to the tower, to our sisters. If we stop doing our work now, we’d be derelict in our duty to both. Let our soldiers gain glory with their bravado. History would relate our bravery here, fighting for light in ways only Aes Sedai can.”

 

She indicated her words with precise gestures of her nimble hands, her musician’s hands. “A fine assessment. I’d love to join you. Thank you.” She was willing to listen to an expert opinion.

 

Lillian Tremina

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Astradore smiled lightly at Lillian's words. She was right; they had a responsibility that was clear in their direction, as it was with any Ajahs. A liveried servant walked by them with cleaning supplies for the table and bowed respectfully as he passed.

 

"Each White is doing her part, even if others chide us for it," she said, watching the servant and thinking on her sister's words on responsibility. "The Yellows Heal and Red--well, they did gentle--and because they can get immediate satisfaction, immediate results, it is satisfying to them, to others, and even the world who knows of their exploits. Yet we could not be here today if it was not for those who worked in private. The builders of the Tower. Those who discovered how to build, before them. Many discoveries lay behind us, and many more ahead, I believe."

 

Her eyes went back to Lillian. "This is not just about you and me, or the Tower--but it does indeed encompass us, and our organization and what we stand for. But what we do is for the entire world. Yes, I think such a trip would be beneficial to us. To remind us of our purpose. Perhaps we can gather a few others--or it can just be us," she amended with a bigger smile. "When you are ready to go, let me know. For now, I will be back to my studies. Hopefully," she mused, "we can do this before Jagen whisks us away on her Black Tower sojourn."

 

Astradore Amare

:ajahwhite_by_drowelfmorwen-dc43fss:

Edited by Jagen Sedai

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“Yes, I’ll send word.”

 

Lillian nodded respectfully at the smiling white sister as the servant bowed and departed. She had still to get the measure of this younger white, but she liked Astradore. And her passion for mathematics. Her clear sense of duty. Lillian hoped Jagen’s trip wouldn’t come to . . . that. She won't be hung out to dry by an inexperienced woman again. Even well-meaning ones. This visit would give her a chance to get to know her and the other sisters better. Perhaps it would grow into trust one day.

 

Now what, she wondered?

 

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