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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Knife Point Confessions


Arette
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Running her hand over the door before her, Lillian leaned close and rested her head against the door.  It was a good couple of minutes before she decided that there was no movement within, and she was free to produce a jimmy key from her right sleeve.  Inserting it in the keyhole, it didn't take long for her to get it open.  Not that it was an appropriate skill for an Aes Sedai to possess necessarily, but Lillian had been picking locks on and off for the past forty years or so, more than enough time for her to acquire some degree of competence in the skill.  Some would have said that she had misspent her years as an Aes Sedai, Lillian on the otherhand felt it was eminently practical.

 

Especially now.

 

Feeling as much as hearing the lock click, Lillian quietly swung the door open and was thankful that the hinges were quiet.  Closing the door behind her and looking it again, Lillian surveyed the room carefully and ascertained it was safe.  No one inside, no wards, safe for her to continue.  It was then that an aesthetic eye turned to the surrounds and Lillian frowned in disapproval.  Heavy furniture, spartan, militaristic, it didn't seem to reflect the woman she knew at all.  No, it reflected someone else entirely, someone whom Lillian disapproved of wholeheartedly, why the quarters had not been cleaned out sooner she didn't understand but that wasn't what she was here to do.  Maybe later there could be a discourse about the painful decour, but for now Lillian walked on quiet slippers.

 

Opening the door on the far side of the room, the bedroom that opened to her was veiled in darkness save for the moonlight that filtered through the open balcony.  It seemed foolish to have such a balcony, knowing what she did now at least, but Lillian was unperturbed by this as she advanced through the room slowly, aware only of the steady breathing that came from the four postered bed, Lillian frowned as she noticed that the curtains were closed.  Stopping before the curtain, Lillian slid her hand down to her belt and then froze.

 

Was this the right thing to do?  A little late for second guesses, but Lillian had made her decision to do what was necessary.  Illian had taught her that things were moving too fast now to rely on others to do what had to be done, to simply hope that things would take care of themselves.  No, she had to do what was necessary because if she didn't, then others would suffer for it and she would not have it on her conscience, knowing she could have done something but did nothing.  No, this time she would not hesitate, would not simply wait and hope that people would fulfill the promise others had hoped of them.  She would make sure of it herself, or she would save her sisters from the hidden hand.

 

Withdrawing a dagger from her belt, Lillian's free hand pulled the curtain open with a painful slowness.  Revealing a still form upon the bed, save for the slow rise and fall of a chest, Lillian leaned over as she grasped the one power.  Firmly shielding the woman in the bed, she placed the knife at the woman's throat with the dull edge against it and said quite firmly.  "Wake up."

 

The next moment Lillian struggled even as the woman gasped, her shield buckled yet because it had been put in place before the woman was awake, it was easier to hold onto and was what made all the difference in the world.  Not wanting to allow the woman to struggle further and perhaps even break her shield and ruin everything, Lillian sharply commanded her.  "Desist!"

 

Just as quickly as the woman had struggled against her shield, the woman ceased.  Not giving the woman a chance to speak, Lillian had not a single shred of the friendship she normally had for the woman in her voice as she spoke.  "Annais Nevell, you will not do anything without my express permission beforehand.  You will move when I tell you to, you will act when I tell you, you will answer when I ask you a question.  Anything less than complete compliance and I will open your throat without hesitation."

 

Turning the knife about so the sharp edge now rested against Annais' throat instead of the dull edge, Lillian was terse.  "You will get up and follow me, should your throat leave this blade your life is forfeit.  Get up and follow."

 

 

Lillian Tremina

White Sister

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Annais was a deep sleeper but she was conditioned to a firm voice waking her up in novice and Accepted years and in recent times to Odelia's commands. The voice was tantalizingly familiar but she was groggy enough that she couldn't place it immediately. She did realize two other things, though: she was Shielded and a knife was pressed on her throat. She couldn't help her intuitive reaction to struggle against the block between her and Saidar but as the blade almost nicked her skin and a firm voice told her to stop, she obeyed.

 

She finally placed the voice and glared angrily at the dark figure. What in Light's name had gotten into Lillian Tremina? She had been perfectly normal since returning from Illian despite her rough experiences at hands of Forsaken Serashda but had some orders been placed into her that had only now activated? She had no choice but to do as the woman told her and hope that her reign as an Amyrlin would not end after pathetic three days. Lillian was kind enough to offer her a hand and pull her up while the other hand held the dagger firmly. Even if she had had more training in hand to hand combat she wouldn't have dared to try anything. Light, she needed new locks and Wards and maybe that Warder might become topical too if she just lived through this scare.

 

Lillian walked her into her sitting room and she couldn't hold her tongue anymore. "What is the meaning of this?"

 

"Silence."  Now was the time they were going to discover the truth about the Amyrlin Seat.  Studying Annais carefully, it was easy for Lillian to see the anger in the woman.  The way her fists were balled, the way she held herself, but Lillian was fairly certain that the anger was also a way to hide the fear at being held at knife point.  It was either someone who had resigned themself to death or had no sense that lacked fear, and Lillian doubted that Annais fitted either of those categories.  Silent as she studied the woman, Lillian came to her decision as her free hand reached behind her back and withdrew an object from her belt.  An object that made Annais eyes widen as she realised what it was, no doubt wondering what it was doing here.  Well, she would discover that soon enough.

 

It was a test, but maintaining the shield was necessary so there was little choice.  Taking the One Power, Lillian first warded the room to silence so none could pry, depending on what happened she didn't want any sound escaping either way.  Secondly, she began to channel into the object as she offered it to Annais to take hold of, the reason she had come to begin with.  "Now, this is what is going to happen.  You are going to unswear all of your oaths, all three of them.  Then, once this is done, you shall reswear each of your oaths.  You will do so immediately, no questions.  You attempt to in anyway stall, or run, or do anything other than instructed, then you will betray yourself and I won't hesitate to end your life.  Unswear and swear anew."

 

Lillian's sharp command to hold her peace made Annais almost quiver with annoyance. It even drowned the fear that her friend of many years really would slit her throat before she understood what this was all about. Her eyes popped when the young White gave her the Oath Rod and she was too surprised to do anything but take the object shoved into her hands. The Rod was activated and Lillian threatened to kill her again if she betrayed herself. She might be still half-asleep but she just didn't understand what Lillian was suspecting her of. Finally she snapped out that she was unswearing the Oath to speak no word but truth and followed up with the two others. It felt like something loosened up deep inside her and she felt different all over. She was already dreading the retaking as she could remember now how sore she had been after her Raising to the Shawl. She was able to speak the Oaths clearly even though her skin tingled and tightened painfully. Light, she would need a pillow tomorrow, just like as a newling Sister.

 

"I did what you wanted. Now I want an explanation." And she'd better make it good or Annais was going to have her hide.

 

"Now tell me for true.  Have you sworn to the Shadow?", Lillian asked calmly and Annais understood everything in one horrible moment of clarity.

 

"The Black Ajah", she breathed. "No, I am not a Black Sister. How? They are real. Oh Light", she groaned. "How did you find out for sure, Lillian?"

 

 

Annais & Lillian

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Hearing the answer she'd been praying she would hear, Lillian took the knife away even as Annais asked about how Lillian had made her discovery.  Sheathing her blade even as she released the shield she'd maintained, Lillian offered Annais the Oath Rod as she held herself together as best she could.  It had taken a lot commit to this, to know that she would have to kill someone she thought of as her friend if Annais had given the wrong answer.  "I believe this is yours."  It only lasted until the oath rod slipped from her fingers as Annais claimed the rod.  Hugging Annais tightly, the words tumbled from Lillian as she spoke.  "I'm so sorry.  I had to be sure, couldn't be sure, had to find out.  Too much has happened, I'm so sorry." Lillian wasn't sobbing, but she was upset about it all the same, and the words Annais spoke to reassure her were a mixed balm at best.  But, she did what was necessary.

 

Parting, Lillian gestured to the seats that were by the fireplace.  "I have a story to tell, but its a long one and you're going to want to sit down.  I need to sit down as well, and I need a drink.  Do you want a drink?  Brandy is over there?  I'll pour us some drinks while you get a gown."  Nodding to herself as she walked over to the cabinet where the brandy was while Annais went and got her gown.  By the time the drinks were poured, Annais was already in her seat.  Light, but the woman could move fast.  Lillian sat the glasses on the small table between their two seats and was surprised at Annais throwing the entire glass back in one go.  The surprise quickly gave way as Lillian mirrored the older sister before pouring them new glasses, a quick shot of brandy was called for to steady the nerves.

 

Sitting down, Lillian began by addressing the question that Annais had asked earlier.  "To answer about the Black Ajah, they are real.  I don't know how many are in the Tower, no clue as to who they could be, but they are here.  Ever since the rumours of Shadar d'Mordero there has always been a suspicion amongst a few of us that it might be one of our own.  You were gone but a few years ago, an Accepted died in the vault room where our angreal are kept.  Black Ajah were responsible, thirteen fled, hunters were sent and most of the hunters were killed.  Most of those Black Sisters are still at large, and Ja'varan Durrlani who was pretending to the throne in Illian...  She wasn't just Ja'varan when she caught me, perhaps she was turned and it was done to her, but she may have been Black Ajah before she had another soul placed inside her, a Chosen named Crimsonthorne.  It is impossible to ignore anymore, which is why I had to make sure that you were not one of them.  A Black Amyrlin would have been the doom of this Tower."

 

 

Lillian Tremina

White Sister

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Finally the knife came off and Lillian handed Annais the Oath Rod. Now it made horrible sense why all the previous Amyrlins had kept it to themselves. The Black Ajah had to use it to unswear Oaths and likely take new ones. They must have known too. Lillian embraced her and seemed to be more in need of comfort than her who still hadn't entirely overcome her shock. Automatically she made soothing noises and said that it was going to be alright and that Lillian needen't to worry. She nodded emphatically that she could indeed use a drink and followed Lillian's urging to get something warmer on. She put her feet into warm slippers and wrapped herself into a morning robe and made her way back grabbing eagerly the glass Lillian was pouring her with unsteady hands.

 

The brandy warmed her nicely and settled the worst edge of her nerves. She hoped that Lillian's story would offer some good news too but it left her with even more questions. "Who were the Hunters and were you one? And who sent them? Have the previous Amyrlins known? They have had the Oath Rod after all. Or even worse, was one of them a Black?"

 

"Previous Amyrlins..."  This was where Lillian's story was going to become more difficult to tell, but she had resolved to tell Annais everything she could to prepare her if she was in fact loyal to the Light.  "I don't know about Kathana, though she certainly gave nothing away if she did.  Karana...  When the Accepted were murdered she and Arette knew it for true.  They assembled thirteen hunters, and it took me time to figure out who they were.  If I'm right, there were thirteen, and the last with Sirayn's disappearance is Kaylan of the Green.  The rest have been killed by the Black Ajah as far as I can tell during the pursuit of them.  Lanfir and Lyanna as far as I can tell were loyal to the Light, though they had Ja'varan in their grasp.  Whether she was influencing them, I'm not sure.  Sirayn wasn't and neither was her Keeper as far as I can tell.  But its been a precarious thing."

 

"As for me...  I was not a hunter, I had different duties, ones that I chose not to disclose to Lanfir Leah because of the way she betrayed the Hall, and Sirayn Simeone because she would have mishandled the information I would have given her.  I've always tried to stay beyond Ajah politics, and I had gotten along with Arette since I came to know her near the end of my time as an Accepted.  When she was made Keeper, I began to run errands for her." Ambiguous term, but there would be time to go over particulars later.  "Small things at first, but in time I took on greater tasks, and I was asked to analyse different problems and situations.  I wouldn't say I was the only one Arette asked such things of, though if there were others I never knew of them."

 

Taking a sip of her brandy, Lillian was glad to see that her hand had finally stopped shaking, the brandy was doing its job.  "I kept secrets, I served the Tower in a variety of functions ranging from advisor to thinktank to diplomat to spy.  When Karana and Arette were deposed, the pair of them had effectively cut me out of what they were up to because they knew they were going to pay a heavy price for it and they didn't want me to share in it.  Since then I have been acting independently, but now you are Amyrlin I would like to offer you the same services that I once gave to Karana and Arette.  The Tower comes first beyond Ajah politics, I've been saying that since I was an Accepted and I stand by it still.  If you wish to make use of me, that is."

 

Sirayn had been a Hunter, most interesting. That made the Black Ajah's hand even more likely option in her disappearance. As for Ja'varan... yes, she had heard that the 'Green' had been a close friend of Lanfir and Lyanna. And then she turned up as a Forsaken in Illian, a worrying turn of events. Annais nodded that she understood Lillian's reasoning for not approaching the previous Amyrlins although she was definately curious to hear what exactly the White had been doing then. She pursed her lips with thought and slight disapproval at hearing about Lillian's and Arette's relationship. Arette had taught her as novice and Accepted too and she had liked the woman well enough even if there had been no special connection. But power and authority had certainly changed the woman or just allowed her bad traits to surface. In Annais' opinion she had failed in her role as a Keeper when she hadn't adviced Karana against the divisive decisions she had made during the last year as an Amyrlin. But at least they had been well aware where that path was going to lead them to.

 

"I would be honoured to utilize your services, Lillian. But I am afraid that tonight has peeled alot of trust from me." She fixed the White with a firm look before she Shielded her in turn and handed her the Oath Rod activating it with a tiny weave of Spirit. "I'm sorry but this is the only way to know that this isn't a clever attempt to slip a snake into my bosom."

 

Annais & Lillian

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It was a shock to be shielded suddenly, but Annais words made sense and Lillian didn't hesitate as she took hold of the oath rod.  It felt wrong to unswear the oaths by which she had bound herself, even if she had constantly questioned their usefulness.  Every single one of them could be circumvented, Lillian had discovered that for herself, but that didn't change the fact that over the years the strictures that had been woven into her bones had somewhat become a part of her.  But unswearing was the easy part, swearing was the hard part as the oaths were replaced once more.  As she finished, Lillian removed her hand as she spoke clearly.  "I am not Black Ajah, I am not sworn to the shadow."  At that, Lillian sank back into her chair further, light but relieving a burden from one's shoulders only made it twice as heavy when it was reassumed.  "What would you ask of me?"

 

Watching with pity as Lillian went through the same painful process than she before, Annais tried to harden herself and think that it was necessary. She would likely have to through this very same thing with many others in weeks and months to come. "Aww, I really am sorry, Lillian", she murmured and continued with a wink. "But I can't say that I am entirely sad that I will be the only one sitting gingerly tomorrow. Really, this is the least you deserve for bringing your Amyrlin bad news like this." She sobered up quickly enough by just thinking about the Black Ajah. "I don't know yet how to use you. I think that Arette and Karana utilized your abilities pretty well so I believe that I will be giving you similar kind of tasks and naturally proactiveness is appreciated. But right now all I can really think of is the Black Ajah threat and what could be done about it. Obviously Karana's solution did not work very well because so little of her Hunters are left. Please don't tell me that your deductions coincide one to one to the party they sent to Tear. I just read the Hall report about it yesterday and Sirayn was there so it matches too well. It just would be idiotic strategically."

 

"I suppose that I need to start keeping the Oath Rod just like my precedessors but can I really? It is going to be as clear as telling the Black Ajah that I know about them. The ter'angreal storage room is better guarded these days but the Black Ajah could easily arrange three Sisters there on duty when they need the Rod. And then there is the security of the Rod itself. Do you know where Karana or any of the previous Amyrlins kept it?" She pawned the ter'angreal lewdly suggestively. "Sure, I could think of one really safe place and the colour is handy as all stains would fade into the background colour too." But even her sense of humour wasn't strong enough to withstand the current situation. "And can I just start bringing in Sisters one by one and testing them? And what if they were found out to be Blacks? What then?" She was almost hoping now that she never would have found out. Knowledge certainly increased pain.

 

"The problem is that the Black Ajah is formless."  Lillian rubbed her forehead with one hand while the other nursed her brandy.  If she'd had a solution earlier she could have given it to Arette, but the problem was that there was no clear cut solution because the problem was obfuscated.  "We do not know their number, capability, the level of information they have access to, the superior training they may have received, whether they answer to one master or several, whether their structure is hierarchical or seperate in smaller cells.  We have no known points of contact, and any open action tips our hand that we know something."

 

"One of the reasons Karana appeared to do so little is because it is impossible to fight a war against something you cannot identify.  They have the advantage, they know who we are but we don't know who they are.  But if we pressure them, we do not know how far they will go, what options they will entertain, how much damage they can do if roused.  If we start marching sisters in here one by one, if we don't keep the Oath Rod in plain sight as such, the jig is up and we forfeit any advantage we have of knowing they exist without them knowing we are aware.  Its been a problem I've been contemplating for a long time, it would take a very long time for us to work through the Tower with the Oath Rod without raising suspicion, and if they ever questioned a sister who was verified, or worse yet turned her, we would be undone.  Completely undone."

 

There just didn't seem to be any good news tonight and Annais resorted to pouring herself another glass of brandy. "But still, we can't just sit on our behinds and do nothing. Of course we have to be careful and take no useless risks. Do you think that we could secure at least a few key figures? Aramina of course and some others we could trust. How about some Sitters who we think might be influental in their Ajahs if not even Ajah Heads?" She tilted her head and looked at Lillian. "I wouldn't make you to give that kind of information but what names come to your mind if you think that we can test at least a few people."

 

Frowning as Annais mentioned some ideas, Lillian could only shake her head.  "I'm not sure.  Aramina definitely needs to be secured, she is your first and closest guard as the Keeper, you need to know you can trust her.  Beyond that, just remember that everytime you approach someone there is risk.  Every person you pick, you broaden the circle of knowledge.  The broader the circle, the easier it is for it to be pierced, for it to be betray itself.  I can't tell you who, there are some I would love to say, but I can't be certain and it is you who will have to decide it.  In fa-"

 

Looking about sharply as there was an insistent knock on the door, Lillian looked to Annais as she got to her feet.  It could be innocent, but it could also be something else altogether.  "Go answer the door, I'll hide in your bedroom.  I'll be out at the first sign of trouble, but we needn't tip our hand.  Pass me the rod as well, you don't want that on you."  Quickly relieving the rod from Annais as the woman handed it over, Lillian went to the bedroom and hid behind the door there, waiting as she strained to listen, surprising herself as she realised her silence ward had extended into this room, meaning she could listen in.  Sloppiness on her part, but she was glad for it this time.  But for now, she simply waited, a hand at her dagger even as she tucked the oath rod back in her belt.

 

Annais & Lillian

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Guest Arie Ronshor

"An odd hour for you to be about the storage rooms, Sister." The older brown did not look to the shorter sister that followed just half a step behind her. Holding the lantern - as there was no need to waste channeling as even just a trickle could set off more than one item that were placed carefully behind each wall - Alshamz Sedai lead the way through the restricted area's of the Tower's Angreal Store rooms beneath the Library and other Ajah Halls. Also known as the Vaults. In the lower levels of the Tower, there is a set of stairs that lead down several flights until they level out into a corridor that leads to a heavy oak door with massive hinges and iron straps to reinforce it. A black iron lock is set in it the size of a man's head.  Behind the door is a large round room that functions as a foyer. A horseshoe desk sitting in the center, several log books can be seen on it that serve as the cataloged for a huge variety of angreal, ter'angreal and other items stored within the Tower Vault. From this room there are many different doorways that lead to storerooms. Each storeroom is dominated by rows of shelves, each with boxes, chests, and many figurines and items that are tagged appropriately. There was only one room to which the shorter woman wished to go. Needed to go.

 

"Idea's strike at the oddest of times, be it noon or night. If I wait than the idea may be gone. It is usually best to act on an idea while it still can plant roots than to let it die away if dismissed."

 

The Brown nodded her head in agreement. "It has happened to you more than once. I am happy that I can help you, although I had hoped to finish my reading of Miriam's journal before I headed to sleep."

 

The other woman's smile was evident in her voice. "You sleep?"

 

The Brown chuckled. "I have been known to do so on occasion."

 

"Good read?"

 

"At first. Most journals are as more emotions are expressed. However, as it progressed the entries become more and more automatic. Entries are sparse and spread out over time. Always hard to tell."

 

"Year?"

 

"200 NE. About then, and early. She was poor at recording this sort of thing. yellows tend to forget these things when cataloging daily events. It is only when a major occurrence takes hold that she will reference the year. There were little mention of the male Aes Sedai. So few were left and those found were already taken by the taint. I wish it could give me more concrete information but it is barely in mention."

 

The other woman reached out carefully and patted the woman's shoulder. They stopped in front of a large well built oak door. Alshamz smiled down at the woman, the sisterly look they shared was rare among their ranks, but it was there, like so few would consider possible. "Thank you. Mae." She paused carefully, holding the key to the door in front of them. "I do wonder, at times, if it was worth the shawl that I chose. But after reading every story I pour myself over and wishing I had been apart of it, I find myself even more thankful that I am safe in these Brown Halls. This Library."

 

Maegan hide the thoughts that had been running through her mind since the moment she returned from Caemlyn.

 

"But after hearing from Shaneavee Sedai about what happened, and with a new Mother.. Sirayn Sedai disappearing out of the blue. Some say she was dragged away by... darkfriends and murdered. Others say she ran off because so many disapproved of her enemies. Maybe she did something that would make people angry and - light forgive me - still her." Shaking her head, Alshamz gave a heavy sigh. "I don't understand this world. I understand the past, but not this world."

 

Grasping the woman's hand, Maegan squeezed it lightly. "All will be as it is woven, and there is a master hand in all of this. Light be with us, but the Creator knows. He knows we will fight for the Light till the end of our breath in this Age. And you," She smiled, the lantern flickering, "Will bring the knowledge of the past into the future. You will see."

 

The Brown smiled. "You are too young for what you know. And you chose the wrong Shawl."

 

Maegan smiled with a wink, hiding the hands that were shaking under her long sleeves. "You sure?"

 

The Brown looked on the younger woman thoughtfully. "Maybe."

 

"The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills." Waving her hand to the door, "If you please?"

 

Alshamz moved to the door and with a turn of her wrist the door unlocked and the weave that protected the vault was removed for a time. There was always a time limit to these weaves, and the door was but a gateway within a weave to be closed when the time limit was breached. Only the one on the outside would be able to reopen the weave. Stepping aside, she held the lantern high for Maegan so that she may see her feet. "That won't be necessary, Alshamz. I can see just fine without."

 

"Very well." The woman returned to the corridor. "Knock when you are finished." Maegan did not need to turn around to know that the Brown closed the door, hearing it click back into place. She was alone. It had only been when Maegan felt the ward over the door slide back into place that she felt safe again. Safe to allow her thoughts to move at a faster pace than the beats of her heart.

 

...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

 

Her very own thoughts from the years past echoed with haunting ire as she stood in the silence of the dark room, black without light. Often enough had she been here to know what each shelf contained, the tagged items and Ter'Angreal each of which she personally studied on various occasions. Some more than others as her curiosity for how each worked and how they were created raked at her brain. taunting her with secrets she she wished to uncover. And yet the greatest of them was wrapped in a small chest on a pedestal in the middle of the room, brought out only for the rare occasion that one would join their ranks.

 

::Or leave..::

 

Maegan had little doubt that the existence of an eight Ajah lived among their ranks. The political power and how the Tower was built - how they so easily denied their existence only gave them more power to work from within. Why would the Shadow not wish to take advantage of the greatest source of power beside it's own. The Tower teaches made this so incredibly simple, creating factions between Ajah's and instilling the simple nature that to admit of the existence of the Black Ajah was to admit the Tower was weak and broken. The White Tower must not be broken. The Black Ajah did not exist.

 

A Lie. The source of her enemy was the simple fact that they could Lie. If Maegan could risk leaving the Tower Halls than she would be able to retrieve one of her single greatest accomplishments. A Truth Rod lay in her office within the Academy, locked away from the Eyes and Ears of the Tower and her own Ajah. Not trusting a soul within or outside the Tower the usage of such a rod could be great, but greater the damage it could be in the wrong hands. The rod cared not whether Light or Dark held it within its grips, it would answer still the same for both. It would harm both were a lie to be told. The Truth Rod held no mercy. If Maegan were willing to risk leaving, it was this Rod that she would prefer to use. If.

 

But as Woven, Maegan could no sooner leave the Tower and return without losing what precious time was still held within her grasp. Light preserve her and Guard her this night. The thought of Annais, Annie, a Black Sister... Maegan mentally shuttered at the thought. Light guard her as she held very little doubt that she was the last remaining sister within the Tower to have the knowledge of the Ajah's existence. Telcia had been kind enough to give enough names to confirm who to trust, and none but save herself was either within the Tower and Alive. ::Light pray that they are still alive... ::

 

Steeling herself, Maegan stepped forward, pressing her hands to wooden chest, age evident to the touch, but preserved by more than just care. An ancient Ter'Angreal that served no other purpose but to protect what was in from the effect of time or possible disaster, no fire could touch within. No flooding, not unwarranted weave. Impenetrable but by only the touch of a hand of one that could touch the One Power. If it was possible for either a Male or Female touch, Maegan did not know. There was too much she didn't know.

 

She flipped the latch of the small chest, lifted the lid, and then shut it again.

 

Silence.

 

Not one thought fluttered in her mind as pure dread clutched at her chest, cold hard and defeating dread. it was not there. The Oath Rod was not there. Maegan's smell hands laid on the chest as if wishing to summon it back into the chest with some for of magic she had yet to discover. But when she reopened the chest, there was still nothing there. Nothing but the imprint of a slim cylinder in the soft silk that lined the chest. Closing the lid once more, Maegan paused for a single moment before a slue of words trailed out of her mouth. Not normally prone to curse, every known word in existence left her lips in a whisper of rage. Once she had completed her little reflective anger, Maegan collected her thoughts and reached to a different shelf, retrieving an sa'Angreal that she had used before in the past as an assistance in Shielding. It improved her ability in Spirit. One last look at around the room, Maegan took the last remaining seconds to collect her thoughts.

 

Someone had beaten her to the room. To the Ter'Angreal. But why? There was not raising, and after Sirayn had left the Tower the Rod had been returned to the Vault. It may be possible that the Black Ajah had it, or perhaps Annais had it already in her quarters. Or was there another that had retur4ned to the tower to do as she was about to do. Light Guard her, but if the Black Ajah were to swear the woman to the Shadow, there would be nothing but the destruction of the entire Tower to foretell. And there would be no need for the Talent for Maegan to know this. A Black Sister on the Amyrlin Seat would be completely unforgivable.

 

::Especially if it was Annais.::

 

Folding the sa'Angreal in a soft cloth, she slipped it into her pocket and knocked on the door. Maegan could feel the doorway open, the ward receding away from the door frame as the light of the lantern nearly burned her eyes.

 

"Did your idea pan out?"

 

"Unfortunately it did not."

 

"Very unfortunate. Was there anything else you acquired?"

 

"Just the sa'Angreal I borrowed last summer. Small project ahead of me. Need a little boost to make it work. Hopefully."

 

The woman nodded. "Just be sure to have it returned. I'll mark it off in the logs for you so you may return to your room without any more wait."

 

"Thank you, Alshamz."

 

The Brown smiled. "Your work is very important to us, especially with your talent for Angreal and the knowledge of them." Meagan had never told any of her ability to create. "Some whisper you know how to read the Angreal's as if you created them."

 

Maegan chuckled, keeping her true thoughts far from her face. "To create would be quite something, would it not. It is simply study and creativity. Take a moment to ask "what if" and you often find more than asking any other question. It leaves open to more possibilities."

 

Smiling, Alshamz nodded. "Well said. Be well, and Light pray I see you soon." The Brown held out her hand. Grasping it, Maegan smiled and hugged the woman briefly.

 

"I must go. Until the next time we meet." nodding her head, Alshemz left her in the corner of the corridor. Without pause, Maegan picked up her skirts and worked her way quickly out of the Vault and into the White Tower. She had very little time to waste and a long walk ahead of her. If possible she would Travel her way into the Tower but to waste Saidar in such a fashion -not to mention the detection would bring more ill than good- it was up to her two feet to guide her to the large doors of the Amyrlin Quarters. Her footsteps her soft and silent as all but the slight flutter of her skirts gave away her position as she moved through the halls.

 

::Please, oh light, please don't let me be too late... ::

 

Passing through the large entranceway that split into the offices, the keepers quarters and then that Amyrlin Quarters, Maegan waited one last moment, taking a deep breath.

 

What if she was wrong? What if the woman really was an Black sister? What if there were more than one in the room, Maegan would be automatically forfeiting her life if she made one wrong move into the room. Could she take on more than one sister at a time?

 

Maegan did not know. For all her theories and her talents. For all the knowledge of the Tower and the Academy combined; she simply did not know. There were only so many things that Maegan could not handle. Helplessness and this.

 

Closing her eyes she hid every possible emotion that might betray her capricious frame of mind. There will be no fear tonight. She will not allow this game to go on any further. She must have an ally within the Tower. Annais was her best choice, and her only choice. Pulling the sa'Angreal out of her pocket and into her fingers, Maegan knocked harshly on the vast doors. She left no room to allow the Amyrlin to sleep through her urgency. The Amyrlin answered the door, a robe wrapped around her waist. Not giving Annais a moment to leave her in the foyer, Maegan stepped in.

 

"Forgive me, Mother but I must speak with you. The matter is of..."

 

The door closed. Maegan stared for a moment at the woman. Analyzing. Her touch with the One Power with the a simple thought, opening to the darkness of the night sky, stars of Light shimmering in her mind.

 

Whispering, "Mother, Annais. Why are you out of your bed before My arrival? Why is this room shielded? Poorly so, but shielded, none the less. Answer me, or Light forgive what I may be forced to do." The sa'Angreal clear in her hands for only the woman in front of her to see.

 

 

Maegan Ryanne Sedai

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Approx 2528 words. :D

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The insistent knock on the door startled Annais and her heart begun to race. Who could it be at this hour? It was highly unlikely that she was awakened by anyone twice during the same night. Some horrible crisis could have occurred of course and she was needed as the Amyrlin but her instincts were screaming for danger. It was splendid to have Lillian still there and the White was able to keep her faculties sharp. Annais gladly did as she was told and gave Lillian the Oath Rod. And then she was alone and expected to meet the visitor who ever it was. Light but she didn't want to open the door. She wasn't made for this. She had faced Shadowspawn in the Borderlands over the years but she hadn't been this anxious even before those battles. The idea of Black Ajah unnerved her. And what if they attacked her right away when she opened the door? She could be dead even before Lillian could come to her aid.

 

She ran a hand over her face to wipe away the worry and to summon a cool facade and went to the door where the pounding continued. She stared at the woman revealed like she had seen a ghost, so surprised she was to see Mae there. The Red Sitter and her old friend couldn't be Black, she just couldn't be and Annais didn't resist as she pushed inside her and closed the door. Mae called her the Mother, she thought a bit hurt before it registered that the woman embraced Saidar and held the same sa'angreal she had used the day before.

 

Never in her life was Maegan a Black but she was behaving so strangely that Annais was starting to be really concerned. Keep your cool, woman! "Stay calm now, Mae, and put down the sa'angreal. I don't know what you think is going on but don't do anything rash. I was up because I was fretting. That's what I was doing, Mae. The Stole is starting to feel bloody heavy already", Annais confessed with a cracking voice.

 

"Let go of Saidar. You are really starting to worry me."

 

Maegan's frown did not change, nor did her touch with the One Power. "Answer my questions, Annais. Why are you out of bed and the room shielded?"

 

Slight irritation was starting to mix into the fear diluting it. "I already told you why I am awake. And everyone else is Warding their rooms these days so why not me too. But now it is time you answer some questions. What in the Light's name is going on here?"

 

"The shield, Annais," Maegan could feel her calm slipping. Mentally pushing her anger down. Would Annais really try to trick her? There was more behind the woman's eyes, but fear was one of them. Did the Black Ajah hold her already? She stared coldly at her friend as her voice did not raising from the whisper lest someone else were to hear her. "Poorly built, I can crack it in two. You are far more capable than this."

 

This was it, there was no more evading. Maegan had to be one of them and Annais was going to end up six feet under if her friend could draw all the strenght from the sa'angreal. Predict this bitch, she thought grimly before she lunged for the sa'angreal and embraced the Source through it quickly filling herself to the brim and beyond. The sweetness of Saidar was edging pain and she doubted that the object of the Power buffered the overflow quite as well now when she and Maegan both pulled strenght through it. "There is a Shield for you, Black Sister!", she roared even as she tried to slam a barrier of Spirit between the darkfriend and her connection to the One Power.

 

Annais & Maegan

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::Idiot.:: Maegan had always thought that the Gray had a tendancy to be a touch hasty, however she had not expected the woman to tackle her for the Sa'Angreal and shield her without any other help - a Red sister who everyone knew were highly skilled in shielding. However, the shocking part was not just Annais' actions but her reactions and the hiss of accusation that caused Maegan's eyes to widen. A black sister?! How in the.. How could she know of the Black Ajah? To what proof did the woman have that gave her the knowledge that they existed. None save herself knew of their existance within the Tower, and the very Black Sisters themselves. Not unless she was one herself. But how could she if Annais was accusing her of being a Black Sister? The entirety of the situation no longer made plausible sense to her. From offensive to defensive, a weave ready, Maegan formed the Spirit necessary and cut at the shielding weave pushing Annais back with a wall of Air. Winded, "How do you know, Annie..." Saidar weaving tightingly around her as a shield was ready to be placed over Annais with but one simple thought. "How do you know of the Black Ajah." Her voice raised as the shock of the entire situations put the stakes on a completely different level. "How, Annie! How?!"

 

Annais' Shield was slashed apart by a razor of Spirit and Maegan knocked her back with Air. She was the stronger of the two but Maegan had the expertise of her supposed Ajah. The difference was very fine, though and while the Black focused on her defense, Annais attacked her connection to Saidar through the sa'angreal and tried to hoarde more of it to herself. Just a little bit more and she could cut the woman off so she could be questioned. Sweat was popping on her forehead, so hard she concentrated and tried to wrested the control. If only she could also manoeuvre Maegan so that Lillian could sneak on her back. She still had the knife after all. Annais knew that she kept her opponent occupied enough that she couldn't retribute with any nasty weave so she simply bullrushed Maegan and tried to position the other woman so that the door to the bedroom was out of her line of sight. "You can kill me but you won't get any answers, you vile darkfriend", she grunted.

 

Not daring to release either Saidar or the sa'angreal for fear of Annais' volatile unpredictability, Maegan stood up with only the wall to her back and none beside her. She was no fool. Unfortunately Annais was, and she felt sorry for the woman. "Think, Annie. If I was a darkfriend, would I have given you the chance to explain yourself? Would I have whispered any question at all?" Maegan glared back at the woman with a look of utter disgust, Spirit poking at the shield around the room. Eavesdropping. There was no reason to break it, yet. "The Oath Rod is missing. It no longer is held within the Tower Storage Room and it was not logged out of the books. Someone," Maegan's voice dropped a small octave as the hint was far more than enough to hint at the blatantly obvious. If the woman believed her a darkfriend than her mind would only conclude but a similar thought to her own. "..has taken it. Do you, Annais Nevell, The Amyrlin Seat" The words spat out as Maegan reigned in her anger with her own words, "..have any knowledge of this?" There was a look Maegan could not read on Annie's face. She flickered from title to nickname, but some habits die hard. "I swear by the Light and the Hope of my salvation in this and the next life and upon the First Oath that I have sworn twice over that I am no darkfriend, nor Black sister. And I swear by the same Oath that I will rip you apart if you do not tell me what I want to hear."

 

Annais & Maegan

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THUNK!

 

Watching as Maegan crumpled on the floor, Lillian resisted the urge to bite her lip as she looked up at Annais who was now holding the sa'angreal.  She'd been listening in, just within the range of the weave of silence that she could see how badly it was going and how quickly the situation was going to degenerate.  Yet she had sheathed her dagger, she couldn't believe that Maegan had turned to the shadow, or rather, she didn't want to believe that could be a possibility.  Not after how long she had known the woman, it wasn't a betrayal she was prepared to admit could be a possibility.

 

But that hadn't stopped her from retrieving a particularly heavy book from Annais bookshelf in her room.  It was difficult to sneak up on someone holding the one power, but in the heat of a struggle like the one the pair had over the sa'angreal, it had been easy enough with her slippers that made her steps as silent as the grave.  A single swing at the back of Maegan's head and she was down and not getting back up, and if she acknowledged the shield that Annais had slipped on her, then she gave no sign of it.  Then again, Lillian had struck her with a good degree of force, a bit more than was necessary but she wasn't going to play around when Maegan had a sa'angreal in hand.

 

Tossing the book aside on the ground, Lillian bent over and pulled Maegan up so she could haul her over to one of the chairs.  Laying her there gently, she propped her unconscious friend up on the seat before walking behind it and looking to Annais.  It was really up to Annais how she wanted to handle the situation, but she wanted to throw her own two pieces in.  It was all well and good for Maegan to have made her claim, but there was only going to be one way to make sure of it.

 

Withdrawing the Oath Rod from her belt and holding it from one end, Lillian tossed it over to Annais who caught it easily enough.  "There's only one way to be certain.  Can't believe she stormed in with a sa'angreal, and how did she know the Oath Rod was missing?  I removed it with none the wiser, and she clearly didn't know it was me because otherwise she would not have asked you where it was.  She's somehow strayed upon the fact it was missing herself, or she's acting under someone else's direction.  If its the latter, then we have a problem."

 

"If its the latter, then we have little time to play with if the others directing her realising she failed.  Revive her when you're ready, we need to get to the bottom of this."

 

 

Lillian Tremina

Sister of the White Ajah

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Light but it was hard to keep herself on check and avoid revealing Lillian who was sneaking behind Maegan with a large tome as her weapon. But then struggling for control over the sa'angreal physically and countering Maegan's weaves and trying to slid her own Shield on the 'Red' kept Annais busy enough. When had she last sweated? She was drenched enough that she feared that her hands might slip from the statue. But the scuffle was over soon enough as the heavy volume connected the back of Maegan's head and she collapsed on the ground unconscious. Annais took no risks hoewever and secured a Shield between the woman and Saidar.

 

Clutching the sa'angreal tightly to her chest Annais staggered to a chair and slumped down. What a night and it wasn't even over yet. They had to question Maegan and secure her and despite her oath that she wasn't a Black, Annais still couldn't be certain. There was no way to know until Maegan had been exposed to the Oath Rod. And if she was a Black... surely their channeling had alerted the darker Sisters already and Light knew what they would do. The surprise would be ruined and any slight advantage lost.

 

Lillian tossed the Rod to her and she was able to snatch it from the air. Such disrespect toward the venerable ter'angreal but then she had done worse by thinking of sticking it to dark and damp places. The naughty thought almost brought a smile on her lips but it faded as Lillian remided her of the urgency of the situation. The sa'angreal gave Annais enough oomph that she could wrap the 'Red' on binds of Air, Heal her and still maintain the Shield. Maegan's spectacles had dropped and as the Healing stirred her, Annais brought her iron gray eyes close to the blinking brown ones as she wanted her 'friend' to see her clearly. She sticked the Oath Rod to Maegan's immobile hands and triggered it with tiniest flow of Spirit.

 

"You swore by the strongest Oath that you are not Black but that is not good enough. Darkfriends have been known to say it in vain before. You will Unswear all your Oaths now and retake the real Three Oaths. And then you can tell me again how you are not Black if you are still able."

 

Annais Nevell

Amyrlin Seat

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First, light exploded in her head. The touch with Saidar snapped and than it was a sickingly sweet darkness that brought Maegan to the floor. Not even the hard wood floor was enough to wake her as her body crashed into it. Momentarily, hours, seconds, days, time passed by without there be ing knowledge of time and it's full existance before her whole body was plunged into ice as Saidar from an outside source delved into and through her skin. A breathless moan escaped her lips as the companion that healed her had only healed the wound but not the incoming ache of pain from the blow. Pain that she had not felt in years. Not since that Grisgwen Ter'Angreal backfired on her and destroyed the desk and nearly scorched away her clothes may years now past.

 

A hand moved to her head, her surroundings barely registering as her eyes blinked away the shaking in her visions. ::Burn me... There was anouther in the room. Of course there was anouther in the room. Someone had to have woven that shield and Annie would never have attacked unless she knew she could come out the better.:: The room was still spinning around her without her spectecles and Maegan delibertly held her eyes shut. Nausea would not do here well, even thought he only conclusion Mae could think of was that Annais was surely black and anouther black sister was there, in the room. Nausea was not the only thing Maegan felt as her heart plummeted beyond the ice she forged around herself and the dread locked into place.

 

The Oath rod found its way to her and, entwined in her fingers. A fascinating Rod of beautiful Glass, if that was what it was truely made of. Cuendillar -possibly- and its making unknown and her research to duplicate the rod had been a failure. A pity. Her thumb rubbed slowly along the length of the rod as Maegan forced all of her focus on the feeling and away from the intrusion of pain in her head.

 

"Thrice bonded.. " She muttered as if there was some connection to a past time or life in this event, "Let all that was sworn be unsworn." The oaths twice engraved into her boned ripped apart and dissolved like a battered down weave, dispersing and leaving her body. Her breath gripped and held tightly in her lungs, the pain in her head forgotten as the Oaths ripped away any other feeling. Half done, Maegan's breath was laboured and hoarse. Swallowing, Maegan debated whether it was wise to re-swear once they had left her skin. The truth so easily obscure it could be to her disadvantage if they truly were sisters of the Black Ajah. After all, none else knew. No one else could know.. Maybe they will give her a swift death. Gritting her teeth, by the light she would not make it easy.. For the, light pray, the last time she swore each oath with very exact perfect tone.

 

"I am not a Black Sister. I am not Shadow sworn. I serve the light." There was a bitterness in her tone unlike any other. Heavy and cold, clearly Maegan no longer trusted those in the room any more than they apparently trusted her.

 

 

Maegan Ryanne

Highest

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A breath of relief whooshed out of Annais when Maegan unswore and swore after some hesitation and then declared herself a Lightfriend. She almost felt sorry for what she had had to do but she and Lillian had went through the very same tonight. And Mae had scared her to death by barging in like that with the strongest sa'angreal they had. She nursed the statue to her breast. But she would have to say something now and appease her friend. She had heard the acridness of Mae's tone and she knew that if she didn't pick the right words, the Red wouldn't be convinced of her and Lillian's innocence.

 

She released the Shield and the ropes of Air and returned the golden framed eyeglasses to Maegan's nose gently tapping the tip slightly with her forefinger, a familiar and friendly gesture from over a century back. "I won't apologize you, Mae, because you know that this was necessary. I really was on the edge when you arrived because... because Lillian had just put me through the same. And then me her. I am not a Black Sister and neither is Lilli. And it is still giving me shivers to even think on that, that some of our Sisters could be betraying the Light and the Tower like that." Her voice gathered heat toward the end.

 

"We'll tell you soon how Lillian knew but first we need to hear how you know. You were not one of the original Hunters or were you?" Annais' opinion of Karana would increase slightly if the woman had been wise enough to recruit some secret Hunters no one knew about.

 

Annais Nevell

The Amyrlin Seat

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Lillian. The white sister that Maegan fondly called her sister. A woman who had earned a great deal of respect in Maegan's eyes. Knowledgable, skilled and capable. To think she was..

 

Maegan did not visibly relax in her chair, to relax was to admit that there were no longer any dangers and the subject at hand was not in need of her full attention. However her voice softened considerably as she chose her words carefully. "I was not a Hunter, but i know who they are. Only one still lives, and one other outside the hunters know of the Ajah's existance." Maegans voice grew very cold. "And myself. No one could say they knew of their existance save us. How you could call me a Black is what baffles me." She adjusted her spectacles to look back and forth from Lillian to Annais. She was not completely convinced of thier innocence. Would it be worth having both of them reswear? No. The Truth Rod could answer any questions Mae will most likely have after this night. Assuming they both told the truth. "Care to enlighten me on this?"

 

The easing of Mae's voice relaxed Annais a bit. And she was willing to speak to them even if she was still clearly wary. But then who wouldn't be in a situation like this. She nodded her head unconsciously in confirmation that Mae's knowledge about a single Hunter surviving was the truth. She wondered if Kaylan was still a Hunter or had she been compromised. If not, the poor woman had to be a paranoid wreck although she had kept her facade well. And then this mysterious other. She didn't even dare to start guessing who it was. "You thought that no one knew of their existance save you two, Mae. But Karana and Arette could have sworn others to the secret too like they did with Lillian." Hmm, maybe Annais should send someone to ask from the woman now when she knew where the former Keeper was at. Maybe Lillian since Arette trusted her.

 

"And we thought that you were a Black for exactly for the same reason you suspect us. You knew about the Oath Rod and you came here in middle of the night armed with a sa'angreal. It was just to bloody big coincidence to be entirely innocent. But I believe now. Do you believe us?" She cast a reluctant look at the Oath Rod. She really didn't want to have to go it through again but she would if that was what it took. "And who is the other who knows?"

 

Secrets and oaths pilled on promises. Which to keep? Maegan held her silence in her chair. Not one to be known for her swift actions, her mind toiled carfeully over what Annais told her. "Correct me if I am wrong, but you are telling me that Lillian," Maegans eyes glanced at Lilli, "Knew of the Black Ajah and was sworn to Arette Sedai while she was still Keeper? I suspect this was after the theft from the Ter'Angreal storage rooms. Nothing could be proven before that. She came to you, Annais, to confirm your loyalty to the Light?" Something did not tally correctly, a mathematical error.

 

Her cold glare turned heavy on Lillian. "How did you come into posession of the Oath Rod without alerting the warding on the Vaults? Or the Brown Sisters? Speak plainly, Lillian. Do not assume I trust you because I have laughed and cried with you." Her tone even. "Especially after this. To my knowledge, I am the only one that has re-sworn."

 

 

Annais & Maegan

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Listening and observing as she stood by in case she was needed, Lillian was glad to know that Maegan was not one of the Black Ajah, it would have hurt deeply to know that someone close to her had turned to the Shadow.  Having said that, the tone that Maegan kept with them was irksome, especially when it was turned solely on her.  The fact that they weren't Black Ajah was quite self evident now to the point where they shouldn't have even needed to think about proving themselves further.  She didn't care how Maegan was looking at her, she wasn't going to be reswearing her oaths twice on the same night.

 

"Have you been reading Mara again, Maegan?"  A reference to both the story like manner of speech that Maegan had adopted and her foolishness.  "If we were Black, we'd have dragged you off some place far and remote and we'd have gone to work on you until we broke you so completely that you'd give us whatever we wanted.  That or you'd be turned against your will.  You were at our mercy and we have done nothing but ensure that you are not what you thought we were.  After you've come in here and menaced Annais, with a sa'angreal no less, what were you thinking?  Anyone that is still awake would have felt that volume of power being used.  Its going to be a marvellous exercise coming up with a plausible explanation for that amount of power within the Amyrlin's quarters."

 

Lillian was going to say more, about having their friendship thrown in her face after it had become clear neither of them were Black, but instead she massaged her forehead instead.  She would have to make sure that she wasn't known to have been there, perhaps she would travel out and then come back to the Tower later and to her quarters, the best way to remain unseen and unlinked.  That would allow her to act unhindered by suspicion, well, no more than one usually acted under at anyrate.

 

Sighing, Lillian went and reclaimed her seat that was next to Maegan's and had a sip of her drink before she began to give answers.  "I was not sworn 'to' Arette.  When I was raised, Arette kept an eye on me because of the paper I wrote, and later when she became Keeper she needed someone to carry out errands and tasks for her and that wasn't troubled by Ajah divisions, she decided to pick me.  Perhaps there were others, if there were I don't know of them.  During the course of those duties, I became aware of the Hunters after the incident with the ter'angreal storage.  I was not a hunter though and I did not participate in it because I had other tasks."

 

"There were other things that had occurred before that incident though, before you arrived I was speaking to Annais of Shadar d'Mordero amongst other things.  We know that saidar has been used in the murder of sisters since before I was born, it was foolishness to simply assume that she could only have been a Dread, she may very well have been from amongst our ranks.  There are other things, in hindsight, that also point to the existance of an eighth Ajah, but now isn't the time to explore those anomalies."

 

"As for the vault."  Lillian smiled and shrugged, she was a little proud about having found the loophole after all.  "The wards are designed to find someone trying to remove an item through the designated boundaries.  Traveling circumvents it because when you mirror two places so they become one, there is no longer any intervening space so you do not cross a ward.  You don't need nearly as much power to do it either because you're not transporting yourself, just the item, therefore the amount of power channeled is not going to call attention.  Made a small one in the vault while I was testing different ter'angreal, so I had reason for channeling, and I just tossed the oath rod through onto my bed, then went back to my quarters and retrieved it.  Thats a blindspot in our storeroom's defence by the way, we should have those in the storeroom monitored while they are there, but that has a limited effectiveness since any Black Sister could just end up on duty there and claiming the ter'angreal that way."

 

Turning to Annais, Lillian tilted her head slightly as she said.  "We really need to figure out a ward to block traveling in and out, same with skimming.  Until we have that, we can't effectively keep this Tower safe."

 

 

Lillian Tremina

Sister of the White Ajah

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"There is no need for insult, Lillian. I asked for an answer to the Oath Rod, not to why I am here. I believe the three of us are quite capable of doing what we need to do regardless of friendly ties. If I was Black neither you nor Annais would.." Smouldering flames of anger at the girl's insults, Maegan wore the face of complete calm. Even with the fervent tone and general insult of Lillians voices, Maegan knew better than to trust simply at someones word. If Lillian wished to take Maegan's dispassionate demeanor as insulting than a remedy could come later. "Enough." The words were more to herself. With only two glasses on the table she had no need to drink anything but the urge for something strong resonated within her. There was enough to  discuss over the late moon than who was in the right or wrong. As far as Maegan was concerned they both acted as they must -assuming Lillian and Annias spoke the truth. "What was done is done and best left done. No, I do not trust you until I hear the oaths once again on your lips and the Rod in your hand." Holding a finger to keep the younger girls silence. "Do not argue with me, Lilli. A Black can Lie better than the simply twisting of the Truth. Assumptions will kill you until what is known is made fact. I believe in facts, not assumptions."

 

If there was a retort, Maegan did not hear it as her mind swiftly shifted to what was more pressing at hand and worked on this new puzzle that Lillian brought forth. Travelling in the White Tower, Skimming. Small portals of time twised to pass an object back and forth as easily as a person. A vaccum or blackhole like those seen through Riuda al’Reres's Telescope, the implications on such a massive scale created multiple feelings within her. On one hand you have the Black Ajah with such knowledge to pass back and forth items, letters, instruction, messages without the need to be in the same room, or even the same city. On the other hand Mae craved to test these theories to see just how the weave affected time and space as well as its .. snap

 

"Maegan?"

 

She blinked, and looked to the other two women in the room. "Yes, we must find a way to keep out such things from the storage. There are a few women than I can inform without them suspecting. I may need to create something to detect.. Hard to say. There is a great deal of work and thought that would need to go into such a project. Not to mention Power. Lillian is correct. The Tower is not safe, however it is but one of many issues that will be needing address. The Tower will not be safe until we have rid ourselves of the Shadow. All of it." Adjusting in her seat to a more comfortable position, lounging a little as she glanced at Annais. Dear Annie. There was a mass amount of wieght being placed on the womans young shoulders, more so than her own. She had not felt ready to take on the positions she had, but she took it with grace and knowing that she had been chosen because it was believed she was the best.  She held out an outstretched hand to Annais with her palm up. Maegan wanted to trust them with their claims as they were more than simply sisters of the Shawl. Babysteps..

 

"May I have my spectacles back, Please?"

 

 

 

 

Maegan Ryanne

The Highest

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Despite the situation, Maegan's plea made Annais chuckle. Mae could be quite a Brownie from time to time but she wasn't usually absent-minded. The events had clearly had an effect on her. Pushing the spectacles up on the Red's nose gently, Annais smiled at her. "I already returned them."

 

She blinked again and smiled -touching the spectacles on her nose. A giggle escaped Maegan's lips a little as she had been destracted enough to miss such a thing. Sobering quickly, a laughter but a flicker of light on dark stone. "Thank you," She said. "If it is not too much of a bother.." The implication was simple, but the tone left no room for argument. She could see the look in Annais eyes as she grasped the rod again. Maegan had to give the woman credit, going through the release of the Oaths was painful, excrusiatingly so. But there was a certain amount of firmness in her eyes that although reluctant Maegan knew in hear heart that Annais was of the Light. But still..

 

::Facts, Mae.. remember facts. A look could mean anything, and You of all people should know that you can not trust your eyes to see what needs to be seen.:: The deed done, Annais held out the rod to Lillian. Watching intently on the girls features, Maegan kept her hard look that did not show her heart, eyes like ice on the young White.

 

""Lillian." There was nothing left to say, the implication was eloquent enough.

 

 

 

 

Annais & Maegan

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Watching as Annais underwent the oaths yet again, Lillian couldn't help but wince, it was bad enough to do them but to have to do them twice within the space of half an hour was ridiculous.  But Annais wanted to prove the pair of them, and Lillian was glad enough that Annais hadn't simply delegated the matter to her.  It wasn't as if their work for the night was done by any means, and Lillian fully intended on leaving without being revealed to be overly linked to the Amyrlin if she could avoid it.  The more she was watched, the less she could do without betraying her intentions and her purpose about the Tower.

 

When it was done, Lillian was about to say something when she noticed that Annais was holding out the rod to her.  Then Maegan prompting her with her name, Lillian snatched her hands back promptly as she shook her head.  That was just plain stupidity and she was not going to be doing it again just because the pair of them had missed a very important fact.  "I am not reswearing again when Annais can vouch for me under her oath of truth that she reswore me before you arrived.  Its bad enough that Annais had to retake her oaths twice in one night."

 

"That and we aren't done tonight either.  Before you arrived, I had a suggestion that still stands."  Turning to Annais, Lillian sighed.  "Your closest aide, Aramina, will have to be tested before the night is done.  I am fairly certain she isn't Black Ajah, but for now you will need certainty, and I'll need to give her certainty by reswearing my oaths infront of her and vouching for the pair of you.  If she is Black, she could seriously cripple everything you do and we can't afford the risk."

 

"The question is, how do we want to do this?  Either myself or Maegan can go fetch her and bring her here, or we can go to her.  I prefer the thought of sending Maegan myself, seeing as I really don't want to draw anymore attention to myself than necessary, but I'm more likely to convince her to come since I know her better.  Its up to you Annais."  Reaching for her glass, Lillian finished it before looking up at Annais once more, awaiting an answer.

 

 

Lillian Tremina

Sister of the White Ajah

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Dear Light, going through the unswearing and reswearing twice the same day hurt like a bitch. Annais' skin felt tight like an overly tuned string that was ready to burst out any moment. She winced as she changed position and the fabric of the sofa chafed like she was on blisters. Maegan insisted that Lillian retook the Oaths too which was just plain silly and Annais frowned and shook her head carefully. "What Lillian said. I am not a darkfriend nor a Black Sister and as you saw me just take the Oath against lying, I assure you that neither is Lillian. I saw with my very two eyes her going through this same process and speaking the words. You will just have to be satisfied with that, Mae, because there is no way around it."

 

She nodded that Lillian had a point about Aramina. But which one of them should fetch her? She chew her lower lip in thought as she pondered the possibilities. "I think that you should go, Lillian. Like you said, Ara trusts you more and you have proved your skills at sneaking already. I am sure that you will manage to get there and back without anyone noticing." Both women settled for that and they discussed briefly the strategy of how to deal with Aramina before Lillian dashed off. Then there was nothing left to do but wait.

 

Annais Nevell

Amyrlin Seat

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Slipping out of the Amyrlin's quarters, Lillian was sure to take a great deal of care as she made her way towards the Keeper's quarters.  It seemed that the halls were empty, but she made sure to be careful nevertheless.  The thought of that sa'angreal being used and practically announcing that someone was doing some powerful weaving had been plainly ridiculous.  It was about as subtle as a hammer to the face, or a kick to the crotch, and the attitude that Maegan had shown after that had just irked Lillian even more.  As much as she loved her friend, there were was the odd occasion where Lillian wanted to slap her.  But then, Maegan wasn't used to this sort of thing whereas Lillian was, unless Maegan lived a double life and Lillian very much doubted it.

 

Standing before the door to Aramina's new quarters, Lillian was fairly sure of how she wanted to proceed.  It was strange though, after so many years of going to see Aramina in the Green Ajah quarters, to now find her here where she used to meet Arette Sedai.  It was also strange that she was going to be bringing a woman she had trusted for years to now be tested by the Oath Rod to see whether she had betrayed the Tower for the Shadow.  In fact, it was downright unsettling, but it was something that needed to be done.  As much as she trusted Aramina, they needed certainty before they proceeded forward.  She just hoped that Aramina would understand after everything was said and done.

 

Knocking sharply on the door, she repeated the knock when she didn't get an answer.  A call to wait a moment told Lillian that Aramina was awake now at least, if she hadn't been before.  Knowing Aramina, she'd be going through her clothes to find something to throw on and Lillian didn't have the patience for it.  It only took a moment to get the door open, and shutting the door behind her and locking it, Lillian called in the direction of Aramina's bedroom.  "There's no time for prettying yourself up, just throw a robe on and get out here.  We have a job to do and we can't wait, quickly now.  Don't make me come in there."

 

 

Lillian Tremina

Sister of the White Ajah

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It was one of the ruder awakenings of her life.  At least Lillian hadn't intruded further into Aramina's quarters yet though.  The room said little about it's occupant, except that she had a good eye and a delicate taste in artifacts from across the world.  To anyone that knew Aramina Sedai, they knew that her room was like everything else the woman did, simply a facade that told the story she wanted it to.  Little told the secret of who she was.  Two small frames that had once adorned her mantle now sat on her desk, still partially hidden by a vase of wild flowers that were help by the One Power to retain their beauty.  A third frame had joined it's ranks though she was certain the man whos portrait she kept close by would little care for the fact that she kept it still, nor that she had ever had it made to begin with. 

 

Her wards hadn't gone off to awake her because Lillian had been set long ago to be able to enter but the woman had enough sense by now to know better than suggest Aramina leave her rooms in a robe. Even before her elevation to Keeper she wouldn't have done so.  Nothing could be so urgent as that.  The Last Battle would not have been so urgent as that to Aramina. 

 

Dress already on, she came out of her rooms to find Lillian waiting for her.  She shook her head and gave a small smile to the only woman that had been even close to friend since her days as an Accepted.  Things had changed for her though, since her trip to Kandor.  She felt her Warder stirring through the bond and sent reassurances to her through it, at least she hoped it was reassuring.  There was no telling what Rosheen would think of her up at this hour but she knew the woman wouldn't appreciate being woken up herself at this time.  She was touchy about Aramina's safety though and she could little blame her Warder.  Their time in Kandor, while bringing them together, had not been fun. 

 

Thoughts of Duram came to mind and Aramina looked away from Lillian, unable for a moment to meet the Aes Sedai's eyes.  They had worked together for years but it was her time as an Accepted that made Aramina look away now.  The memory of a very young woman standing before a ter'angreal and trying to make it work to help someone come out.  A memory of Duram telling her if she'd just done what she could, she might have been able to make it happen.

 

Pulling her hair over her shoulder, she began working the long auburn locks into a braid.  It was without thought and she looked up after a moment to her old aquaintance and new found friend.  "What business do we have this late Lillian?" She asked, trying to keep all emotion from her voice.  "I wasn't aware that we had set a meeting?  Or do you need to speak to the Amyrlin and wished a proper arrival?"  her last comment was accompanied with a grin though to take the formality of her tone away.

 

Aramina sur Dulciena

Keeper of the Chronicles

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Shaking her head in annoyance, Lillian clicked the fingers of her right hand at the woman.  "I've come from the Amyrlin, we need to go and attend to her immediately.  No."  Lillian held up her hand as Aramina's expression changed.  "She is fine, nothing has happened, but I am to take you to her immediately.  There are some things that you need to be made aware of, and no I cannot speak of it until we are in her quarters.  Annais and Maegan are waiting for us, and the sooner we are there then the sooner we can get things sorted.  Come on."  Lillian turned to the door she had just come through and, unlocking it, opened it for Aramina to step through.

 

Something strange was happening but Aramina didn't question Lillian.  The younger Aes Sedai had always had an impulsive way about her and she had come to trust it over the years.  She didn't like surprises though and no matter  how secretive Lillian wanted to be, Aramina frowned at her for it.  She contemplating finding a way to put a permanent bind on the woman's fingers so she couldn't snap them again but shook her head at her own folly.  It was just the suddenness of Lillian's arrival and the supposed need for speed and secrecy that was making her temper flare lightly.  She wondered how many people realized she had a rather nasty temper underneath her proper demeanor, and realized probably only one and he had no use for her currently.  The thought sobered her, along with concern for what he was doing.  Instead she finished the braid as she was walking out the door. 

 

Turning to her companion, she smiled politely again.  "I had forgotten how fond you are of these games.  It's been quite a long time since you had me rushing to Cairhein for trying to corrupt my Agents."

 

"Those were better days." Frowning as the fact that Aramina just made a joke of what had occurred sunk in, Lillian turned to the older woman with a quizzical expression.  "I never thought you'd make a joke of it, considering how badly you took it at the time.  You are Aramina sur Dulciena aren't you?"  A half smile on her lips, it wasn't entirely a joke.  The woman had changed, hopefully it was a good sign rather than a bad one.  Maybe if she'd been able to make the time to talk to Aramina since her return from Illian, she'd know better, but there had never been the opportunity.  Too much to do, too little time to do it in, and Aramina had been busy herself.  "It is no game this time I'm afraid, you will understand once we are there."

 

Aramina knew she had puzzled Lillian, but it wasn't the time of place.  They both had things to discuss and from the look of things, she hadn't been the only one to have adventures that needed to be told.  Aramina needed to talk to Lillian soon though, to let the woman know that she wanted more than the cold facade that she had always kept, to find a way to bridge the gap that Aramina had always kept between them.  "I am Aramina, but perhaps the Aramina you didn't know." She said, knowing her response was cryptic at best.  "There is much to discuss, you and I, when we have the time.  Presuming there is time after our secret midnight rendevous with the Amyrlin." Ominious, the thought that whatever was happening would take their feet on different paths, but it had happened before and she knew would happen again.  Aramina was bound to the Tower now, without reprieve.  Lillian was a woman bound to walk to the world.  Two sides of the same coin that had taken different paths.

 

Nodding at Aramina's words, Lillian didn't speak further as there was nothing left to say.  Instead, she led the way to the Amyrlin's quarters as she kept an eye out for any others that might have ventured into this section of the Tower.  Thankfully there was no one, perhaps the Creator smiled upon them after all.  Either way, they were at the door to the Amyrlin's quarters and after knocking once she immediately let herself in.  Holding the door open for Aramina once more, she closed and locked it after her and stood behind the woman as she looked to both Annais and Maegan who were seated.  "There was no one else in the halls, so we are still unseen as far as I know.  Annais, if you would?"

 

Lillian & Aramina

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Annais and Maegan were waiting nervously for Aramina's arrival but they tried to appear casual to their best ability. They sat around a table in a comfortable sofa and the sa'angreal was between them tucked behind a few pillows. The plan was that while Annais spoke to Ara, Mae would Shield her with little extra help from the object of the Power. She was a Red after all so she was much more proficient and faster and quick reactions were needed against an experienced Battle Sister. And if things somehow went awry, there was still Lillian to cover their backs.

 

So now all they needed was the Keeper. Annais hated to think that her friend was compromised but there was the very real possibility that she hadn't told Annais quite everything about what had happened to her in Kandor. She could have been Turned and left for the Black Ajah to pick up. So she had to be sure, they all had to be. Lillian had been told to knock before entering so they had a fair warning. The soft rap almost made the Amyrlin jump like a little rabbit. It wasn't hard to hide the nervousness behind a facade of severity as she was genuinely worried.

 

"Aramina, thank you for coming. Please sit. I have received some alerting news..." That was Maegan's cue and a Shield sprung around the Keeper "... regarding the eight Ajah. Don't make any fuss or we will be forced to jump into conclusions." She set the Oath Rod on the table and pushed it toward Aramina. "Unswear all the Oaths you have ever taken and retake the Three Oaths."

 

Annais Nevell

Amyrlin Seat

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She was barely in the door before Annais began talking and her whole world began to spin out of control.  Suddenly shielded, in a room full of women she would have thought to be friends, she had to force herself to stillness at the mention of the eighth Ajah.  The Black Sisters.  The Ajah no sister would dare name as truth, though Annais had done just that. 

 

The next part felt like she had been punched and she stepped back as if to ward herself from the blow.  Unswear all oaths she had taken?  The Creator protect her, they knew about the Order!  Annais’s implication of an eighth Ajah made her head swim.  They thought Sirayn and the Order were Black?  She took a deep breath.  Of course they did.  What else would they think if someone had talked about the Order?  Her thoughts turned to two people and she couldn’t help the tears that sprung to her eyes at the thought of a second betrayal at his hands.  Light, she let him blind her so badly that even when he rejected her she had to make the leap to another.  All the same, it was the Blue Sister that caught the heat in her heart. 

 

If they knew about the forkroot, why did they need to do this?  We’re they looking for the location?  We’re they Black themselves and wished to use the stash for their own?  Light, she had trusted Annais, even handing over the hated leash to the woman when she had been released from it’s prison. 

 

She stopped her thoughts.  No.  Lillian was not a Black Sister.  She held to that because it was the only thing that made sense.  Nothing they could have done would have made her believe it of Lillian.  She had watched the girl become and young woman and eventually turn into the Aes Sedai she was now. She had watched grief tear her apart and watched the woman pull herself back together.  But… if the Black Ajah had turned to her then?  If they had known what Aramina knew about the Arches now…

 

Blood and bloody ashes!  She was thinking herself into circles all the while the three women in the room continued to stare at her like she was growing horns and about to dance a jig naked.  The oaths she would have to reswear were no more hindrance than always, but the idea of unswearing and reswearing bothered her.  She remembered the feeling of her oaths the day she had been refused by her Ajah.  She remembered the heaviness of it.  Almost as much as she remembered the hope she had felt when Sirayn had asked her to join the Order.  Perhaps the others had counted Sirayn out, but Aramina hadn’t and she didn’t want to undo the oaths that had made her a part of the Order that had set her feet in motion for the past 100 years.

 

“By what right do you ask this of me?” She demanded of Annais.  “I have given no cause for doubt which makes me question your own motives.  You call me into your chambers in the middle of the night and shield me without warning or question.  You do not have this right and I will not give my consent.”

 

Aramina sur Dulciena

Keeper of the Chronicles

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Annais' gaze rested intently on Aramina as she watched the slight signs of internal struggle under the smooth Aes Sedai mask. It bothered her that there was any issue and debate at all. But then Maegan had opposed the treatment too and they had first had to prove their innocence to her. She was so tired of this, weary to the bone from worry and all the channeling and her own rude awakening. She might regret it later but she was cranky and not wanting to play it nice anymore. Stuff pleasentries for once. "I am your Amyrlin Seat and I have every right to ask this from my Keeper of the Chronicles and any Aes Sedai I bloody please. Until tonight I trusted you as my friend and partner but my faith in the Sisters in general has been shaken to its root. Now I don't trust anyone anymore unless I have seen her retake the Oaths before my very eyes, not even Shan or Nat were she still alive."

 

"Lillian and Maegan went through this tonight and I went through it twice. Twice, Aramina. So take that Rod and stop being an idiot."

 

“Excuse me Mother.  I was not aware that the stole gave you the right to ask me to foreswear my oaths to the Tower.  Perhaps I should not be surprised from someone who’s friendship is as easily won as it is lost.”  If she had been in her right mind she would have said no such thing, but her fear and concern for the Order had fallen quickly behind her anger of the slander against Natalie.  If another had said it, it might have been forgiven, but Annais had been there.  Annais should have mourned as she did, she should have lost herself for her friend, but she hadn’t.  Easy come, easy go, that was the type of friend Annais had been before, and the woman she was now.  Aramina felt in no need to placate a woman of such shallow passions.

 

“Perhaps I should reswear them and just add one on the end for you.  Isn’t that what you want?  Our little secret, just between friends?” she asked with a smile that was as shallow as the woman she spoke to.  “I am sworn to the Tower, not to you Mother.” The name was a sneer, no longer the title she had always respected and revered. “And if you expect less of me than you are not half the woman your predecessors were.” 

 

Light, she would have given her life for Sirayn.  She had given the woman her life many times over, her soul.  She would have done anything because to her Sirayn Sedai had been the Tower.  To have her loyalty called into question by a former friend who had no idea of the depths she would crawl for her loyalty was beyond sanity.  The woman was mad.  They had a mad Amyrlin and she knew in the depths of her heart that she was no better tonight. 

 

“You want me to reswear oaths on the Rod?”  She picked the Oath Rod up in her hand and a hundred things came to mind.  Of the Sisters in the room though, only one had ever trained with Aramina and only one saw the stance she adapted as offensive.  Her hand was suddenly bound by air.  She tried to move but found her arms bound as well. 

 

She closed her eyes against the betrayal that she had refused to think on yet.  “Let go Lillian.” She said in a quiet voice. “I will do no harm.” It was more than she was able to take really.  Sirayn was gone. Aran didn’t want her.  Annais thought her a Darkfriend.  And now Lillian was binding her against her will.  She had nothing left and had no idea where to turn. 

 

When the binding was released, Aramina turned away from Annais and stared at Lillian.  Looking her in the eyes, she unswore the oaths that had bound her for over a hundred years.  Without waiting a breath, she repeated the words.  "Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true."

 

Lillian didn’t flinch away but Aramina’s gaze continued to hold steady into the woman she had worked closest with over her entire career.  "Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will make no weapon for one man to kill another.”

 

The final oath and Aramina felt the heat of eyes on her back but she didn’t turn.  The others she would learn to forgive, but Lillian was different.  Lillian had grieved as she had, even if they had taken different paths afterwards.  Lillian had been her closest advisor and the only Sister she had ever turned to, outside of Sirayn Sedai.  Lillian had been the closest thing to a friend Aramina had had among her Sister’s since Natalie’s death.  "Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow 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."

 

She dropped the rod then, not caring if someone caught their precious or not.

 

Annais & Aramina

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Foreswear and retake the Oaths, Annais would have wanted to specify but it wouldn't have made any difference because when Aramina's ire was once aroused, words were just oil to the flames or like a small pail of water and as useless. She was stunned speechless by the personal insult flung by Aramina. So this was what her Keeper really thought of her. It could have been prompted by her calling precious Natalie's memory to question, but if Aramina wasn't a Black Sister like she expected, she could not lie and she had revealed her true opinion. It might be deserved but Aramina had been pretending bloody well over the past weeks then. Had she really become so manipulative and cold over the years that she could do something like that?

 

Her eyebrows tried to climb off her forehead when Aramina suggested that she was maybe trying to get an Oath of fealthy from the woman. Now SHE was accused of manipulation? No, of treason against the very Tower. She was the Amyrlin Seat but she served the Tower, nothing more and nothing less. And if Aramina was such a stone-blind fool that she did not see that as her motive behind this all, then she had badly misjudged her choice of a Keeper.

 

When Aramina was ready, Annais triggered the Oath Rod with a slight Spirit weave. She was relieved that Aramina submitted to unswearing and took the Oaths. But something was left missing, she never denied her allegiance to the Shadow.

 

"Thank you, Aramina." The response was automatic and held no warmth as Annais was still bleeding from the hurt her 'friend' had caused with her stab. "But that was only half of it. Are you still loyal to the Light? Tell me that you are not a darkfriend and a Black Sister."

 

Aramina's eyes never left Lillian's as she spoke the words.  "I have always been loyal to the Light."

 

Annais & Aramina

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