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Taymist

WT - Pieces of a Dream (Kiyi's 100 Weaves)

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Kiyi's fingers moved rhythmically, deftly, in the manner of one doing a thing so habitual that they no longer need to pay much attention to their task and indeed, her mind was occupied elsewhere. Embroidery was one of many skills she'd been taught by her mother, and it was her mother she thought of as she worked now. It was so often the case these days; wondering whether or not Margaere had completed her journey to Amadicia safely, how she was faring there, and did she miss her daughter much? Kiyi tormented herself with that last, still ambivalent over her mother's choice to go to the one place Kiyi herself could not safely go.

 

With a sigh, she inspected the wooden hoop and its contents, checking the floral pattern gradually taking shape on the taut canvas. The colours were vibrant, pretty, reminiscent of a summer's day. It was to be a gift for Carina Sedai's study... a poor recompense for all the Sister had done, but Kiyi hoped she would like it anyway.

 

The previous day had been exhausting. Bone deep tiring. Hours and hours of practising the weaves required during the test for the shawl. All 100 of them. In order. Just as she had done dozens of times since her Arches. First under Carina's watchful eyes and then under Nynaeve Sedai's gimlet gaze. A fond if rueful smile curved Kiyi's mouth as she considered those two very different women. Not people to be trifled with. Hard some might say, in their own inimical ways, and those people would not be wrong. But there was such depth and complexity to the Sisters that few knew about. Kiyi wasn't entirely sure how she would have survived her years in the Tower without them, conscious as ever of a deep seated gratitude to both the Brown and Yellow. 

 

"Still," she muttered under her breath, "they make the most conscientious task masters!" It had been late in the evening before Nynaeve had allowed her to return to the Accepted Quarters, and the bed she'd been yearning for; yet knowing that there were too few hours of sleep until she had to be up and at her tasks again. 

 

A sudden perfunctory rap on her door was swiftly followed by the entrance of the Mistress of Novices and Kiyi stood hurriedly, dropping a precise curtsy. Larindhra Sedai's ageless face considered her in silence for a moment and then she spoke the words Kiyi had waited so long to hear.

 

“Kiyissalle Chevra, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe.”

 

The woman turned on her heel without waiting for any response, already heading off down the corridor, and Kiyi hastened to catch up. It wouldn't do to be judged and found wanting for something as silly as tardiness or inattention. Not now. Not when the world was suddenly within her grasp. She schooled her face to stillness and calm as best she could, breathing deeply and refusing to let her fingers curl into the material of her dress despite their instinct to do so. She was not an inexperienced Novice any longer. Somehow, she had to wrap herself in serenity and calm before she reached their destination. 

 

 

 

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The journey downwards into the depths of the Tower seemed to Kiyi to be far quicker than her last visit. No word was spoken and she knew she must not be the one to break the silence. Instead she occupied her anxious mind with emulating the Mistress of Novice's confident, stately bearing and simultaneously keeping her features expressionless. Years of further training made her more self controlled, if no less lacking in confidence, than her Novice self had been.

 

The lofty corridors were well lit and surprisingly dust free; or perhaps not so surprising when she recalled how persnickety some Sisters could be about their silk dresses. Dusty hems would never do! When their strange little procession reached the lowest level, a pair of massive doors, that wouldn't have been amiss adorning some fortress, barred their way. Larindhra Sedai channeled them open and, though they moved slowly, they made no sound.

 

Once Kiyi could actually see the chamber within, she tried to look everywhere without appearing to do so. It was a large, circular, domed room, ringed around with stand-lamps which shone rather dazzlingly off the white stone walls. After the dimness of the passages, the brightness was a shock, straining her already tired eyes.

 

Directly beneath the dome, in the exact centre of the room, stood the great oval ring ter’angreal. It was well over a span high giving sufficient room for any woman to walk through. Kiyi tried not to be distracted by the way it glittered with swirling colors in the lamplight.

 

“Attend,” Larindhra Sedai intoned, bringing Kiyi's full attention back to the matter at hand, and to the other Aes Sedai present.  One Sister from each Ajah, wearing their shawls like a pointed reminder of what was at stake here, who moved smoothly into a circle around both Kiyi and Larindhra. Kiyi had been well warned that every look, every movement, every reaction was being weighed and considered; had been judged from the second she walked in. Calling on her own sense of control, she gathered an appearance of self assurance around herself. 

 

“You come in ignorance, Kiyissalle Chevra. How would you depart?” Larindhra demanded.

 

“In knowledge of myself.” Kiyi modulated her voice carefully, relieved to hear very little rasp in it this day.

 

“For what reason have you been summoned here?”

 

“To be tried.”

 

“For what reason should you be tried?”

 

“So that I may learn whether I am worthy.” Kiyi's voice grew more firm. She wanted this.

 

“For what would you be found worthy?” 

 

“To wear the shawl.” She was going to have this. She was. Whatever it took.

 

Kiyi instantly began to undress, as she'd been taught she must, while Larindhra's rich voice spoke the final word. She would be tested while clad in the Light, a symbolic gesture but an important one. Larindhra continued with the ceremony.

 

“Therefore I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” The woman channeled, drawing a six pointed star in the air in front of Kiyi just as that young woman felt a weave touch the back of her skull. She fought to keep the shock from her face. That had never been mentioned in her training but she couldn't be seen to be caught unawares.

 

Calm. Kiyi breathed slowly.

 

Another Sister spoke, taking up the rhythmic counterpoint to Larindhra's explanations, “Remember what must be remembered.”

 

“When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power. The weaving required must begin immediately, and you may not leave that sign until it is completed.”

 

“Remember what must be remembered.”

 

“When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation.”

 

“Remember what must be remembered.”

 

“One hundred times will you weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.”

 

“Remember what must be remembered.”

 

The weave the other Sister had created settled into Kiyi, a strange sensation almost like Healing, then all of the Sisters except Larindhra moved their circle around the ter’angreal. They knelt on the stone floor, channeling in concert, weaving a complex pattern of all five powers, and concentrating wholly on the task. She finished undressing calmly, aware that the Mistress of Novices was watching everything she did, and removed her Great Serpent ring last of all. She placed it tidily on top of the pile of her belongings.

 

The middle of the ring became a sheet of white all of a sudden and seemed to absorb the light of the lamps, dimming the rest of the chamber in comparison, before slowly begin to revolve on its base. There was just silence in the room; no scraping sound, nothing to indicate such a huge object was even moving. 

 

Too late for doubts now. I have to be ready. There's no option for failure here. Kiyi took a surreptitious breath of preparation and walked steadily to the ring, stepping into the whiteness and….

 

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...she looked around in bemusement. This wasn't her room. She wasn't entirely sure how she knew that, but she was as certain of it as she was of her own name. Kiyi looked down at herself feeling even  more perplexed. She was far less certain of why she was naked. Or of how she'd come to be in this room in the first place.

 

Whatever was going on, she had to remain calm. It would never do to show any panic or lack of confidence. A second glance around showed a neat pile of clothing lying on the end of the small bed at the far side of the spacious room. Surely that hadn't been there before? She shrugged, dismissing the oddity. 

 

Not my choice of colour, but it will do. Kiyi walked to the bed, nothing in her gait suggesting she was in any rush to cover her nudity, and took some care in donning the shift, the drab, beige coloured dress and the stockings she found. A neat appearance is a sign of a tidy mind. Who had told her that? Memories seemed to evade her grasp.

 

Turning the handle of the sturdy oak door, Kiyi exited the room and walked straight out into a central courtyard area under a dull, rain laden sky. The walls on all sides were windowless, broken only by a single archway in each leading the Creator only knew where. The middle of the square held only one thing; a raised wooden platform, reached by a single set of steps, large enough to hold several nooses, all attached to a huge, solid beam affixed at either end of the structure.

 

Two of those nooses were currently placed around necks.


Whitecloaks. Kiyi's mind spat the word out as she looked at the men on the platform and those around the courtyard. She moved forward to join the back of the crowd, only to halt abruptly, recognising the faces of the prisoners in horror. Mother! Aunt! Her heartbeat picked up, sweat slicking her palms, but she showed nothing outwardly to those people gathered in front of the platform.

 

"You are convicted as darkfriends and sentenced to die Under the Light," one of the Children stated solemnly, his unbelievable words falling on Kiyi's appalled ears. How could this be?

 

Her mother's frantic gaze spotted her amongst the sea of faces.

 

"Kiyi! Help me!" the older woman begged, eyes wild.

 

Kiyi opened her mouth to reply, certain that channeling wasn't an option, but stopped before the words could form, glancing to the side as a shimmer caught her eye. A six pointed star lay beside one of the archways. She immediately walked towards it at a measured pace, propelled by some unseen force, and once standing on it, embraced saidar. In seconds she was weaving with threads of Air, and, equally quickly, was splitting that weave. She sliced through the ropes of the nooses at her mother's and aunt's necks just as one of the men kicked the stool out from under Margaere's feet. 

 

A silver-blue disc the size of a small coin plopped into her palm as she heard the stool hit the ground...and another six-pointed star appeared at the opposite side of the courtyard. She had to go through it. She had to go now! Her feet led her inexorably towards the star, not rushing, not lagging, thankful Margaere was safe. 

 

The satisfaction was short lived. At the rope's apparent failure, the same Child who had kicked the stool away, drew his sword and sliced open Margaere's throat; at precisely the moment Kiyi's foot hit the star. Her heart felt like it was tearing into tiny pieces at the vision imprinted on her mind's eye...

 

... and her delicately boned fingers touched the tears rolling down her cheek. Her body shook with the force of her sadness. Sadness over what? Her mind was blank when it attempted to establish the source of the powerful grief. 

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The process repeated, over and over and over again. Kiyi would find herself in some unexpected or unfamiliar place, spend an unknown amount of time being battered by traumatic, dangerous, sad, or simply puzzling events, and then make her steady way towards yet another six pointed star. Each time, certain indubitable facts remained. She could not channel until she stood in the first star, she must not hurry nor tarry, and each weave was completed in its preordained place in the order set before the second star appeared. Why those things must be, she didn't even question. They were simply incontrovertible truth.

 

Memory of previous events did not stay with her but she did begin, naturally, to feel the physical results of the exertions upon her body. Her wondering about what had caused her to feel so completely exhausted, so drained emotionally, cropped up more often as her trial continued within the ring, regardless that she'd already forgotten the previous wondering herself. Yet she knew she could show no weakness, that her focus must remain on completing the weaves.

 

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

 

Kiyi stepped through the star once more... and found herself on a cliff top. Naked. Bleeding from a multitude of cuts to her legs. Her back lacerated. Stings on her arms. And holding her baby daughter in her arms.

 

A puzzled frown knit her brow. The cuts looked like they'd come from knives; the wounds' edges sharp and clean. But that couldn't be possible when they were so small and so numerous. Where had so many injuries come from?

 

She shook the pesky questions away as a glimmer of something silvery caught her eye and she looked to her left. An odd place to find a pile of clothes. She glanced around but found no other people in the vicinity. Some traveler dropping items from a cart? It seemed unlikely so far from any obvious road or habitations. The sound of the surf against rocks intruded on her awareness.

 

Ahh, smugglers perchance. Ill gotten gains from a foundered Sea Folk cargo or the like. No doubt there were plentiful rocks under the waters hereabouts. Plausible.

 

Anira slept peacefully in her arms, and though loathe to let her go even for a second, Kiyi placed the baby carefully on the grass while she dressed steadily. She was already preparing to put the matter of the clothes out of her mind, collecting her daughter back into her loving embrace and moving toward the cliff edge. But when she reached it, sure enough there were rough hewn steps leading down to the golden sands below. Kiyi nodded to herself in satisfaction. She was so very tired that it seemed a treacherous route to attempt, particularly with Anira in her arms, but with nothing else to be seen up here, there were few options available.

 

Kiyi's heart overflowed with love for the tiny being she held. A joy unlooked for. Her right arm tightened around the baby, tucking the ends of the shawl she now wore closely around the infant before she ventured her first steps down the incline, placing her left hand carefully against the rock face. The descent seemed never ending and Kiyi's calf muscles protested, cramping tightly by the time she finally gained the soft sands of the narrow beach. 

 

 

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