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Rory's Oath thingo!


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The chamber of shaped stone brought no warmth to her naked form, but that is not why she shivered. The seven Aes Sedai around her observed her body, but that is not why she hugged herself. The ritualistic words were heavy, but that is not why she found it so hard to speak. The shadows pushed down upon her bearing the weight of ages, and in that place where fear knew no limits, it was that which consumed her.


She knew this to be a place of testing, that this was where her right to be called Aes Sedai would be determined. But her fear was not born from respect for the ancient tradition, only knowledge of her weaknesses; the limits of her endurance and of her ability. Any test designed to cleanse, to uproot the “weeds” from the tower could prove beyond her, and of this she was all too aware.


Rory did not deserve any more than she already possessed, she knew this. In the beginning she had been so disinterested and unwilling to learn that for months she had done anything in her power to disrupt or dismay her teachers. Her craving for saidar had begun only when she discovered it was a presence she may never feel, a basic lesson left unaccomplished. This had not sat well with her.


And then she had discovered those relationships that had the strength to guide her throw her Arches, had been the only links strong enough to pull her from the seductive clutch of false reality, but they could not help her here, not Lillian on whom she saw as a guide and teacher, and not even Saline her roommate and constant companion. No. This test would be taken alone, and only the strength of her mind; the strength of her body could hope to prevail.


She stepped into the oval, and the world melted away into black oblivion. With no point of reference Rory panicked. Eyes closed or open the view was the same: nothing. She could not her feet, nor he legs, nor he hands, not the ground around or above her. Her body locked with paralysing fear. She remained still. She felt firm stone beneath her feet … and what if that changed from in one step?


Her eyes adjusted to the pitch and her eyes were drawn toward a faint light: the star. Her heart beat a little faster and her muscles loosened with the arrival of an object of familiarity. Still … what if there were gaps, or holes in the stone and she fell? Would falling be any different to standing stationary? Not really.


She took one careful step, slowly following it with another, and then a third. So far so good. The star was much closer in just those three steps. She took another, and another, and some more, to a total of seven and she felt almost as if she could reach out and touch it. She tried but the star appeared to be above her, out of her reach. She felt around blindly, the fear causing her to sweat.


At first her hand came in contact with nothing, and the world was all a silence, even her own breath afraid to make known its presence. How could she reach the star? There was nothing there! She jumped, feeling foolish for the failure but having had to try. She felt around some more, her hand coming into contact with rough hewn stone: a step. Yes! With her hands feeling her way she began to climb. She reached for the star, and then began to weave, a bright flash of light illuminating the darkness. The world around her began to change.


A sharp intake of breath find only water, she coughed violently and spun wildly in the murk for any trace of direction. The star was easy to find and she swam towards it, her lungs itching. It was far away, and by the time she touched it her chest on fire and her vision was becoming cloudy. She surrendered to the source. Nothing happened. No reason to worry it happened all the time.


She tried again; failure. This has happened before as well, it wasn’t good, but nothing to worry about. A third attempt, failure. She tried a fourth and even fifth time. Still nothing. Rory became frantic, trying to find a way out, there was none she could see and she knew that soon she could not help but breathe the green liquid. She offered up a silent prayer to the creator and tried once more.


The warm glow of saidar surrounded her and she wove desperately. She would not release the source again, it was too risky. She was not going to die here. So she was not! The world shifted once more, only moments after her mouth had opened and she had been forced to breathe.


Rory attempted to suck in air and cough the remnants of the water out of her lungs all at the same time with minimal success. When at last the convulsive fit subsided she looked up at the moving clouds. It was at the same moment that she noticed the clouds above becoming farther and farther above that she felt the rushing wind at her back.


She tried to turn, but realised there was no ground beneath her to find purchase. Horrified she understood her predicament: an aerial free fall. In vain she twisted and wriggled, trying to see how far the looming earth was below, and the skin on her back began to prickle with dread.


She looked for the star and found already in her left hand, and had no idea how. Had it always been? She wove….


…And crashed into a table in the common room, splitting it in twain and landing on the floor amid splinters and foamy ale. Loud angry voices cursed her bitterly. Disorientated, confused and dazed as she was, she did not understand the nature of the curses until the first blow fell.


Instinct curled her into a ball, protecting the sensitive areas while still exposing her to assault. Worn leather boots dominated the landscape seen between her elbows, glimmers of movement and pain. Her mind reeled, cast adrift. What kind of test was this?


She felt the glow more than saw it, and dragged herself along the ground towards it, each strike causing a grunt of pain and there were many. Rory clenched her jaws in her hallmark pose of defiance and exposed her body to the full brunt of assault as she stretched out to grab the star. Her eyes Rolled back from a particularly nasty boot to the stomach, but still she held firm to weave.


Time wore on and the pressure did not relent. Rory felt the success of each weave with a mix of elation on apprehension: closer to victory, but feeling the loss of each small piece of power keenly, she could only continue for so long. Each new challenge tested. Physically, emotionally and spiritually they drained her.


She fought through horrible half-man half animal shapes, through a forest of trees more than capable of trapping her amongst its wooden bars, each trunk a jailer. She had channelled though the ground beneath her feet heaved and buckled with tremours; had channelled through the fear of a skeletal, eyeless thing, and had at one point been forced to weave while dodging explosive balls of white fire. One by one the challenges were meet and over come, one by one until one remained.


Saline helped her to stand, embracing her face with joy, stroking her hair.

“You do no be real.” Rory mumbled, eyelids drooping and body sagging against the Saline illusion. She was not real, but felt so warm, so warm and so inviting and Rory longed to do nothing but sleep. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if she gave in, just a little while, let the illusion enfold her with its realistic body, the fragrance of fresh soap and cleanliness. Surely no one would mind.


She had one weave left. There was no rush. Why rush? Just one ... and Saline was as warm as she was in life, her breath as sweet, the rise and fall of her chest and the beating of her heart. Who would blame her if she rested a moment? Hadn’t she earned it? Didn’t she deserve it after all she had over come?

Somehow she found herself on her knees without remembering how she got there. Saline was crooning, her lips brushing across Rory’s forehead. No one would need to know. They could share a few moments here, beneath the juniper tree in the arms of one another and she could still pass her test. Just a few minutes longer and she’d continue, yes; the shade of the juniper was so nice.


The Juniper tree ... Rory groaned and broke Saline’s soft embrace. She longed to stay, but knew it was not real, and if she lay down she would fail her test and would never become an Aes Sedai, might never see Saline again. Who knew what the Aes Sedai did with their failed. Feeding them to trollocs hidden beneath the tower was likely. Groggily, Rory made her way towards the star and cast her final weave....

...And landed on all fours in the small oval chamber, the damp, cold stone revitalising her body and mind, washing away the residue of her fatigue. She attempted to stand, but found she lacked the strength. Her limbs were flowing water, not heading command, but following the path of least resistance. Her mind was melted wax, refusing to be drawn together to form any collected thought. She heard words but they were faint, far away. She was helped to her feet and congratulated, but the only sound she heard was a loud buzzing. She felt drunk and in need a very long rest.




Rory stumbled into their combined room, sad to see that Saline was not there. She could have used her roommate’s embrace for real this time. Tripping over almost everything between the door and her bed, she finally managed to flop down onto the hard mattress and close her eyes. She knew she should be reflecting but she just couldn’t bring herself to think. It was too difficult.


Which Ajah would she choose?  The choice did not seem a difficult one to make. She had known inside where she wished to be, known it the moment she had been brought within the tower against her will, kicking, cursing; fighting. There was no choice, only decision, and she knew come the morrow where she would stand.


The temple had tried to curb her will, and they had failed. What they had achieved was the redirection of her stubbornness. Rather than fight against the tower and all of its inhabitants she fought against her own weaknesses and the disadvantages she knew she possessed. It was difficult to be unaware of such things where those stronger than her were everywhere, and seldom let her forget her weakness.

She had almost failed her test for a minute’s respite; for Saline’s touch. Maybe she should be concerned about that, fearful, or regretful, but she felt none of the above. It had been a meaningless illusion thrown to ensnare and trick her and it had failed. In the end she had chosen correctly, had she not? So what was there to be worried about? Nothing, that’s right; nothing.

Thus sorted, Rory hide herself under her blankets, closed her eyes and slipped into a coma like sleep.



"Who comes here?"


"Rory Baker." Her voice was strained and sore. She spoke as loudly and as clearly as she dared but each syllable caused her to wince. There had been a lot of sleep, but Rory still felt more than a little fatigued, mind, body and soul. 



"For what reason do you come?"


Indeed, why had she come? Well, she had been forced, of course, but now she truly believed she wished to become an Aes Sedai. Yes. She had earned the shawl and she would wear it proudly ... well, she may not actually wear it as such, but she’d use and abuse her rank to get cheap beer.

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


"By what right do you claim this burden?"


"By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the White Tower." I do be hating you all!


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


Rory did not blink as she stepped into the chamber. She aimed directly for the Amyrlin and the oath rod. She knew she should be afraid, and far more nervous, but the testing had left her with little energy to call upon, even to emotionally react to the monumental occasion. She was dazed.


"Under the Light and by my hope of Salvation and Rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true." But I can think them! 



"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."



"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." The idle thought came to her and almost made her laugh. Does that mean she could not defend the life of an innocent, even if she anted to? And just where, oh where, was the fun in not using saidar as a weapon? It wasn’t anywhere, that’s where. Rory would have to figure out for herself what the tower definition of “weapon” actually was.


"It is half done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones."


"Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah. All will be done that may be done under the Light."


Rory made all the proper motions and movements on auto-pilot and then stumbled toward those sisters of the green ajah. She wanted this over quickly so she could leave, and the more indecision she showed the longer it took. She came in ignorance and she would leave against in ignorance. The only thing learned to ware the tower and its graduates. Somewhere there was a very strong drink with her name on it, and she intended to look at the bottom of every ale jug across Tar Valon until she found the right one.


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