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All This for a Scarf? (Janine's Testing and Oaths)

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It's over.  It's finally over.  Over twenty years of work, countless hours of study, countless days scrubbing pots, and all of it leading to this one night and day.  Janine sat nude on her bed in the Accepted's quarters, legs folded up underneath her, elbows resting on her knees.  Her eyes were locked on the door in front of her, though she really didn't see it.  In her mind, Janine was replaying the events of the night, seeing every moment unfold in her imagination.  The fire had long burned down to embers, but Janine did not notice the slight chill in the air.  She simply sat and remembered...

 

One hundred weaves, one final testing...  The list of weaves seemed oppressively massive, but Janine had committed every evening from the day she got the list to learning and memorizing every single weave on the list.  None of the weaves were hard, per se, but they were unusual.  It was no easy task to memorize them because of their odd nature.  Of course, there was the second part of the test: utterly calm serenity.  That one would be more difficult than the weaves.  Janine's temper was well-known throughout the Accepted's quarters; she always seemed to be on the edge of exploding, as if something was always at the back of her mind, making her angry with the world.  If any of them had cared to ask Janine about it, they would have found out they were absolutely right, though they would not have liked the resulting answer...

 

Voices in the hallway brought Janine out of her silent contemplation.  From the sound of it, there were two novices out there, sneaking into the quarters of a despised Accepted, likely with something squirmy to liven her evening.  Janine remembered doing that on more than one occasion, though it wasn't very original.  She had much preferred something more shocking than having her victims wake up with a 'friend' in their bed.  For a moment, she considered leaving her room to catch the two in the act.  However, it was likely that she didn't like the targeted Accepted, either, and in a few hours, she wouldn't be able to do it herself.  Settling back, Janine allowed her mind to return to its contemplations...

 

Meals in the cafeteria were filling, if a bit bland, but Janine didn't mind.  A full stomach kept her from being too cranky with whatever obnoxious novices she was stuck teaching.  She did not have the patience for it at any time, much less with all these recent raisings and...  "Janine Alastarn."  Not again...  This was probably over assigning a chore to some novice simply for getting on her nerves and...  Turning, Janine saw that this was not the case.  It was the Mistress of Novices.  She was in her shawl.  Oh, Light...  "You are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai.  May the Light keep you whole and see you safe."  Janine could have died in that moment.  After the Accepted test, she'd thought that there would never be such a fear again, but that familiar cold began creeping up her spine, chilling her in an all-too-familiar manner...

 

"Here we go again," Janine muttered.

 

Another shiver racked Janine's body, causing her to wrap her arms tightly around herself.  The walk down to the testing had passed in silence.  She remembered her mind, how it had roiled and ran through the list of weaves.  She knew them all, but they had been gone from her mind as if they'd never been.  It had worried her, but she'd been able to force a calm over her mind as the walk had progressed.  To the door...

 

The silence was deafening, oppressive, yet Janine had to allow it.  Once in the passages below the White Tower, silence was required.  Even if that silence seemed to stretch forever as she descended lower and lower into the bowels of the Tower.  Only upon reaching the lowest level, the last door, did they stop.  It took no time for Janine to see the difference between this door and the other doors that they had passed.  It was huge.  There was no other way to say it.  The size reminded Janine of the doors on fortresses or defensive towers.  A simple weave of Air pushed the doors open, revealing...

 

Janine gasped.  Lamplight reflected off the white walls of the room, arching up to the domed ceiling.  In the center of the room, an oval stood on edge, the light reflecting various colors off of it, never staying the same for a moment.  With a sinking certainty, Janine knew that she was to be tested within the thing.  However, this was not the Arches.  This was different.  Janine knew she was capable of doing this.  The shattered girl that had come out of that bloody ter'angreal so long ago was dead and gone, replaced with a woman who knew what she was about.  Failure was not an option.

 

"Attend," the Mistress of Novices said formally.  At the word, the seven Aes Sedai in the room stood around her in a ring.  It was time to be done with it.  "You come in ignorance, Janine Alastarn.  How would you depart?"

 

I would depart with the knowledge I need to be free of the restraints you've put upon me.  The fiery thought was no reflection of Janine's tone as she calmly said, "In knowledge of myself."

 

"For what reason have you been summoned here?"

 

"To be tried."  And not just my patience.

 

"For what reason should you be tried?"

 

A sudden realization hit Janine.  This was one of the last steps in becoming Aes Sedai.  She was almost done.  Twenty-some years to get to this point, and it was almost over.  "So that I may learn whether I am worthy."

 

"For what would you be found worthy?"

 

Serenity could not help the small smile that blossomed on Janine's face for a moment.  "To wear the shawl..."

 

Light, it had been terrible.  A hundred memories had cascaded upon her all at once at the end of that testing.  She felt tears beginning to form at the corners of her eyes at some of them.  She'd seen her brothers thrust into Trolloc cookpots.  She'd been thrown to starved lions.  There'd been Inquisitors with their needles and hot pokers and worse things.  She'd been beaten, scratched, nearly mauled, nearly raped, nearly dead in dozens of ways that she'd never expected.  She'd fought Trollocs and Fades and all kinds of Shadowspawned filth.  And she'd come out at the end.  Janine had done it all without the failure she'd expected.  She'd succeeded.  The sounds from the hall seemed to indicate that the day would be starting soon.  Rising from the bed, Janine quickly dressed, laying her few belongings on the bed.  They'd be here for her soon.

 

Almost on cue, there came three clear knocks at the door.  Looking into the mirror one last time, Janine took a steadying breath and opened the door.  It was no surprise that there were seven Aes Sedai awaiting her, one from each Ajah and all wearing their shawls.  Stepping into the silent circle, Janine allowed them to lead her once again through the corridors of the Tower, down the familiar tunnels of the previous night, and to the doors of the previous night.  There would be no need for knocking, she saw; the doors stood wide open, waiting for her arrival.  However, the circle around her stopped, halting her progress.  Ah, yes, traditions, precedence, propriety, Janine thought for a moment.  She was anxious to gain the shawl, to finally be free of all these restrictions!  "Who comes here?"  The voice was familiar in a vague sort of way.  Janine had heard the Amyrlin speak on a few occasions, but that was all the interaction she'd had with the woman.  Just as well; her temper could have very well caused her trouble.

 

"Janine Alastarn," she answered clearly, her voice ringing through the room.

 

"For what reason do you come?"

 

"To swear the Three Oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai."

 

"By what right do you claim this burden?"

 

By twenty years of my life being poured into this one moment, she thought.  However, that's not the answer they wanted.  "By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the White Tower."

 

"Then enter, if you dare, and bind yourself to the White Tower."  Janine dared.

 

The Amyrlin stood framed within the oval ter'angreal, the seven-striped stole on her shoulders, her Keeper by her side with a black cushion in hand.  Janine knew what would be on that cushion.  Knowing what would be there, knowing that it would be there made Janine realize that she'd truly made it.  They were really going to do this.  Stepping through the oval, she went to her knees before the Amyrlin, her hands held before her.  It seemed as if the smooth rod, not quite like ivory, not quite like glass, weighed more than it should have.  There was no sound in the room.  The only thing that seemed out of place was the glow around the Amyrlin as she channeled a thin flow of Spirit into the white rod in her hand. 

 

"Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will never speak a word that is untrue."  The sensation of the air seeming to press against her was... unnerving.  Janine felt as if the words that she'd spoken were literally settling into her.  "Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will never make any weapon for one man to kill another."  The feeling redoubled, making Janine feel as if she'd been sealed within a silk wrapping that was far too tight, leaving her hardly able to breathe.  It was not comfortable, to say the least.  "Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will never use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme of defending my life or that of my Warder or another sister."  A gasp escaped from Janine's lips as the oath settled into her along with the other two, sealing her as surely as a stone sealed a tomb.  Her breathing was ragged, pressured.  How long was this going to last?

 

"It is half done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones," the Amyrlin said, her voice carrying the same dull tone as it had before.  "Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah, and all will be done that may be done under the Light."  If Janine had thought that kneeling was awkwardly uncomfortable, standing proved to be downright agony.  The oaths seemed to keep her stiff and unbending, hardly able to move at all as she curtseyed to the Amyrlin and kissed her Great Serpent ring.  With that formality out of the way, Janine looked to each Ajah in turn.

 

The Yellows: healers and curers of diseases.  They were the best healers known to the world.  However, Janine had never shown any promise in Healing, nor had she ever shown any interest in it.

 

The Blues: Seekers after Causes, with the capital letters audible.  They sought to right wrongs and meddle with the affairs of thrones and nations.  Not her cup of brandy in the least.

 

The Reds: hunters of male channelers, defending the world from another Breaking.  An admirable cause, to be sure, but not very high up on Janine's priority list.

 

The Grays: mediators, arbiters, and negotiators.  They sought to create peace and make groups work together.  A good member to have in a party, but very far from Janine's nature.

 

The Whites: philosophers, seekers of wisdom.  Which meant that they sat around all day thinking deep thoughts.  No.

 

The Browns: archivers, librarians, and liable to know the most random things.  Useful, but Janine had no desire to spend her entire life with her nose in a book.

 

That only left one option.  Her eyes traced the line back to the Ajah she'd long known she was meant for, and they'd known she was meant for them, too.  Slowly, the rest of the Ajahs parted, leaving Janine with her choice.  Always, she'd been the fighter, the one who refused to quit.  She'd been the one who was more likely to lash out.  She'd been destined for the Green Ajah since the day she'd strode into the Tower gardens and insulted Lavinya Sedai.  Her steps made her choice clearer than any words could have.

 

 

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Jaydena walked toward her kiln room, she needed to sculpt, to create and to bring to life something from her own two hands. Entering the room she took a deep breath and just smelled the clean scent of earth, the clay just aching to be worked. Earth had always been her favorite element, and after she discovered she had a talent called Delving, she had become even more familar with the element. An element that was so often though of as the men's element. Jade walked over and out a smock over her clothing, sitting down at the work bench she began to mold the clay, working it between her hands, giving it shape and form. As she worked she thought about how there was a young woman going through her test right now, they would soon hear if she had passed or not. If she passed than she would spend a night in quite contiplation and then they would watch as she did her oaths and picked an Ajah. Jade hadn't spent much time with Janine but rumors were ripe in the Green quarters that this one might go Green. She thought about how if this young girl went Green she would be melded just like this clay. The sculpture of a horse took shape in her hands and her hands moved gracefully upwards, slimming the neck and face as she went. Jade supposed in a way they did meld the Green recruits that came to them wanting be Green. They denied them, then molded them by teaching them how to be Aes Sedai, how to be part of the Battle Ajah, and how to do Battle Weaves and kill.

 

As she worked she waited for that knock to come at the door, letting her know the woman had come safe out of the angreal. Time passed and she floated in the Void, devoid of any emotion and she worked on the horse. With a loud sigh she stopped the wheel and carried the horse to the shelves aoove the washbasin. Tomorrow she would add the details and then she would fire it in the kiln that had been built in the Green Quarters. Turning to the basin she washed the clay from her hands and face. As she finished washing her hands she dried them and looked up as a knock sounded at the door. Jade hung her smock up and walked over to answer the door, from the letter she opened, she knew Janine has survive the test and was even now by herself. She walked from the pottery room and made her way down to her quarters. Embracing the source she removed the weaves from around her room and stepped inside. She worked on paperwork for the rest of the day and thought about what the early morning would bring.

 

The next morning she woke up quickly and began to dress for the day, she washed her body and long auburn hair with rose hip soap and shampoo. Jade slide her legs into the silk stocking she wore and hooked the garters. She stepped into a emerald green satin dress with the Aes Sedai symbol embroidered along the hem and neckline. A matching gold belt cinched her tiny waist and an emerald necklace given to her by her first Gaidin went around her neck. The matching earrings and bracelet completed the outfit. She let her auburn hair fall down her back and hooked her shawl with a pin. Her feet slid into a pair of green slippers and she walked from her room. Giving her warders a grin, she sat down with them to break their fast. Jade finished her breakfast and walked out of her quarters, knowing her warders would protect the room till she came back she didn't set the protection weaves. She walked through the quiet halls and soon reached her destination. Taking her place beside the other Sitters she looked on as the ceremony began and a new sister joined their ranks. Soon the young woman was finished and she walked toward the Greens. The new sister approached them and stood quietly before them, Jaydena smiled at her and then spoke, "We will take you to our quarters to meet our ajah head Janine Sedai. Welcome home Aes Sedai." She motioned to the other Sitters and they made their way from the room. They walked through the Halls with soft foot falls and soon reached the Green Quarters. Their feet fell on the green sword inlaid tiles and Jade knocked loudly on a matching door when they reached it. It was her own office and soon Janine would find out that she was Head Sitter as well as their Ajah Head...

 

Jaydena Mckanthur

 

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These days reminded her of why she stood so proud with the shawl across her shoulders.  It reminded her of how heavy it could be at times as well, but Oriella Distung was not one to think too much of the burdens in her life.  Duty was heavy as a mountain and she had a long time to go before she would be prepared to set that duty aside.  There were little surprises in this room and she had known when she walked in that she would walk out with another soul to send to the Green Ajah's halls.  Aes Sedai numbers were never enough, but the Green Ajah in particular, she thought.  They, who fought towards the Last Battle every day.  They, who learned the ways of death to deal it out.  They, who rode most often to the Blight and looked the Shadow in the face.  They, who sacraficed everything while the other Ajahs sat safely behind their white walls.

 

As the girl came to stand among them Oriella kept her face stern.  Time for warmth and congratulations would come later, if she survived her time as a recruit.  She had yet to meet one that came through it unscarred and few that had accepted the necessity with much grace.  She herself had been rather distraught.  She's actually managed to break every item in her room during her time as a Recruit only to find each item replaced with no word ever spoken of it.  Her temper had been well known even as an Accepted though none had ever witnessed it first hand.  But rumors of her trips to the Mistress of Novice for destroying everything in her room that could be thrown had gotten out quickly enough.  She had always suspected it was a part of her punishment but she had never had the nerve to ask her if it was the truth, even this long after she'd gained the Shawl.

 

As the others filed out, Oriella looked at her Sisters and began leading the way to the Captain General's office.  The walk was mostly silent and she took a stately pace, allowing the gravity of the moment to infect them all.  There were far too few raisings and the poor girl would soon learn that she was yet to be a true Green Sister just because she had passed a test.  The most important was still to come.

 

 

Oriella Distung, Banner Captain

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Kareja looked pleased as the rumor came through, there should be more Aes Sedai, but more then anything, there needed be more of specific ajah's. Some would maintain peace now, but sooner or later the last battle would come, hopefully before their number dwindled to naugth. Aes Sedai needed to be present, to defend the light, and at the head would be the greens.

 

Her internal joy of another member to their ajah did not show on her face however, a simple nod of recognition for the woman's choise was all she gave. And then they where following Jaydena's lead, escorting their new recruit up to ajah quarters, where a rough denial would be awaiting. One that if rumor had it true on Janines personality, wouldnt go over well. But she would learn, and come out stronger for it.

 

There were no interuptions as they walked through more silent parts of the tower, untill the coloration became dominantly green, and battlescenes where filling the walls. The home of the green ajah since the founding of the tower, in a time where they had been more numerous. Now their new recruit would fill one of the too many rooms standing empty, and hopefully show to do so well. They needed strong women to contribute, what defined those words where something not all may agree on though, but fait would be as the creator saw it fit.

 

Kareja

NSW Sitter

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Silence greeted their morning walk out of the basements and through the halls of the White Tower.  Despite the uncomfortable tenseness in her skin, Janine was elated.  She was an Aes Sedai!  She had made it!  She'd beaten the odds!  Her smile had been growing larger as she walked through the halls, her normally-attractive features becoming something that could almost be called beautiful.  She had never been a flawless beauty, but one could, at times, forget that when she smiled.  That was, of course, unless she was smiling after being insulted.

 

As the procession continued in silence, Janine took a moment to examine each of the women escorting her.  Jaydena Mckantur had come to escort her, which was no real surprise.  The woman was, after all, one of the Green Sitters, as was Kareja Sedai.  The other with them was unfamiliar to Janine, however.  Another thing slowly became apparent to her: she was the only one smiling.  Curious, to be sure, but maybe it was a part of becoming an Aes Sedai.  There was no discouraging Janine, though.

 

After what felt to be an interminable walk, the group turned into the Green Ajah's quarters.  There was no time, however, for Janine to admire her surroundings.  Jaydena Sedai passed through the halls, finally stopping outside one of the doors and knocking loudly.  In the momentary pause, Janine found herself asking herself mentally, What's going on?

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Jaydena regarded the young woman silently, testing her mettle by looking deep in her eyes, she took a seat behind her desk and waited as the two Sitters took their place on either side of her desk. Finally she spoke, "Janine Alastarn, you stand now in the Halls of the Green Ajah. I would know your reasons for picking the Battle Ajah as your ajah. Remember you are now sealed to this ajah and there is no going back for you. Please state your reasons." She sat straight in her chair, her posture perfect after years of practice and waited for the young woman to answer. This would never be able, it had to be done, but Light knew she hated doing it, every stinking moment of it. It was required to mold these young women, but sometimes she wished there was another way...

 

Jaydena Mckanthur

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"My reasons for joining?" Janine asked, incredulous.  "Pardon me for saying, Jaydena Sedai, but I thought you knew everything about every upcoming aspirant."  Instinct cried for Janine to look away from the woman sitting across the desk from her, but a willful stubbornness that had lain dormant since her rather testy induction into the Tower began to remind her from where she'd come.  After twenty years, that voice was a more than welcome again.  Her eyes stayed on the older woman's, staying steady.  So, she wanted to test her, did she?  Very well.  Bring on your tests.

 

"My reasons for choosing the Green are pretty straightforward, Jaydena Sedai."  Janine settled back in the chair in which she was seated, crossing her legs and resting her arms in her lap, her head cocked to one side.  Her eyes never left the other woman's.  "I know and acknowledge that the other Ajahs are important; I would never have made it through my classes if I didn't.  However, each Ajah has a different way of fighting towards the Last Battle.  The Blues seek their causes, search for their hopes.  The Reds keep us from collapsing under the weight of False Dragons.  The Browns search their tomes for knowledge to aid us.  However, only the Greens actively learn by experiencing what it will be like to against those things that we will fight on that last day."

 

Allowing a small smile to touch her face, Janine continued, "As you're no doubt aware, I was never the most amiable novice or Accepted.  Even as submissive and obedient as I was- and it was the best that I could bring myself to be, I swear it- I was a bit feisty, wasn't I?  To what other Ajah could I possibly go?  I'm not exactly the book type, am I?"

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Jaydena regarded the young woman as she waited for her answer, not a hint of emotion showed on her face. She knew what was coming, she had seen the full spectrum, from girls weeping and crying, to screaming, taking it calmly and the worst was the woman who tried to kill herself. Inside she shuddered as she remembered the blood and how it had felt, she couldn't heal her and she had been helpless to save her. Sirayn couldn't heal her either and it had been one of their other Sitters to saved the foolish young Green. "My reasons for joining? Pardon me for saying, Jaydena Sedai, but I thought you knew everything about every upcoming aspirant." Jaydena arched an eyebrow, the girl should know better than to take that tone with her, she could see this one was going to be difficult. "My reasons for choosing the Green are pretty straightforward, Jaydena Sedai.  I know and acknowledge that the other Ajahs are important; I would never have made it through my classes if I didn't.  However, each Ajah has a different way of fighting towards the Last Battle.  The Blues seek their causes, search for their hopes.  The Reds keep us from collapsing under the weight of False Dragons.  The Browns search their tomes for knowledge to aid us.  However, only the Greens actively learn by experiencing what it will be like to against those things that we will fight on that last day."

 

Jaydena eyed the young woman, obviously this one was going to take a large amount of work, she was rude and cocky and arrogant. To arrogant in fact for her own good, Jade couldn't wait to take that out of her. She almost smirked and then waited as she girl continued her words, "As you're no doubt aware, I was never the most amiable novice or Accepted.  Even as submissive and obedient as I was- and it was the best that I could bring myself to be, I swear it- I was a bit feisty, wasn't I?  To what other Ajah could I possibly go?  I'm not exactly the book type, am I?" She smiled just as pleasantly at Janine and then spoke, "While your reasons may be good and sound, you are not yet ready to be a Sister of the Green Ajah. You are sealed to us, but you are not a fill sister. From this day forward you will be known as initiate of the Green Ajah. Only Green Sisters will be aware that you are such, to the rest of the Tower you will be a Sister and you will uphold that ideal. You will go through a series of training, including Battle Weaves and when you are deemed ready, you will go before the Green Ajah in entirety and state your reasons, and my hope is they are better than, I am not bookish." Jade steepled her hands together on the desktop and waited for Janine's reaction...

 

Jaydena Mckanthur

Head of the Greens and Sitter

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Janine smiled slightly at Jaydena Sedai's words, not entirely hearing them.  "I than- wait, what?!"  As her mind backtracked to where the conversation began to go screwy, Janine found herself becoming a knot of emotions.  Shock gave way to confusion, which in turn gave way to hot rage.  She had come here to be a fighter!  She had spent twenty years getting to this point, and now this woman had the nerve to claim that she was not a full Aes Sedai?!  It was hard not to give into her rage and do something violent.  Punching the woman in the nose was the most appealing option available, but something told Janine that it would not help her cause.

 

"I've been intimidated and bullied.  I've had nightmares ever since the night of my testing to Accepted.  I've given up everything that even resembled dignity for the past twenty years, all so I could reach this exact moment, and now you wish to throw me back to the bottom!"  Janine knew she was coming close to ranting.  A part of her also knew that, if she gave in to her instinctive desire to do something rash, it would be her undoing.  Calm, Janine.  They can only keep you down for so long.  You've waited twenty years to get back at these people.  What's another few months?

 

"Very well, then," Janine muttered, not even bothering to mask the cold, contemptuous tone in her voice.  "If that's your decision, I guess I don't have a choice in the matter."

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The young woman smiled at her and Jade could tell she wasn't really paying attention, she was just going through the motions and waiting until the shawl went onto her shoulders. "I than- wait, what?!"  Jade watched the array of emotions cross Janine's face as reality sunk in. The new Aes Sedai hadn't yet learned how to hide her emotions or how to acheive the Aes Sedai serenity. Finally her face settled on rage, Jade could all but feel the emotion filling the room. She waited for the attack, some got angry, and some got sad, and some accepted it with fighting. This one obviously was one of those that was going to through a hissy fit. She sat ready to embrace the source as the girl began to speak, and that's what she was, a little girl who had so much to learn, she just didn't know it yet. By the time she was done, she would be a Sister that any Green would be proud to guard her back, but she just wasn't ready yet.

 

"I've been intimidated and bullied.  I've had nightmares ever since the night of my testing to Accepted.  I've given up everything that even resembled dignity for the past twenty years, all so I could reach this exact moment, and now you wish to throw me back to the bottom!" She waited calmly for the girl to finish, hoping she didn't something foolish like try and kill one of her Sitters or herself. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened before. "Very well, then, if that's your decision, I guess I don't have a choice in the matter." Jade nodded and reached her feet, "Someday I hope you will understand why this has to be done, I wasn't happy when it happened to me, but I now understand why it must be done. I will be taking you on your tour of the Green Ajah quarters to meet all the Sisters who are currently within the Tower at this time. They will be the ones that will decide if you are worthy to gain membership to the Battle Ajah when you are ready. Please follow me." She motioned for her Sitters to leave the room and she took the girl from the room...

 

Jaydena Mckanthur

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