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Guess who's baaaaaaaaaaaaack ... (open to everyone)


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The White Tower loomed before her in all its pearly glory, her haven, her home, the place she had been denied these past 20 years.  She felt torn between rushing to enter its beloved halls, and sitting there for another candlemark, drinking in the sight as if a dying woman parched for water. People streamed past her, very few recognising the ageless look beneath her bedraggled and haggard appearance, but most stepping back from the burning look in her eyes. After the third time someone had bumped into her horse and swallowed a curse, she clucked him into motion.


She had to speak sharply to the guards at the little side gate to allow her through, but at last she was in the Tower Grounds, handing over her horse to a stableman.  She told him to get rid of the bag containing her spare clothes – she never wanted to see them again.  Slipping in through one of the less frequented side doors, she made her way up through back corridors, her face hidden by her cloak, until she stood before the Amyrlin’s study. 




One hurdle done, how many more to go? She thought to herself wryly, breathing deeply and evenly to maintain her composure.  The interview had not been pleasant, but then, nothing had, the past 20 years.  At least she was back, now.  At least she could channel again!  She almost broke, then, almost channelled on the spot, but no – she could wait until she was in the privacy of her own rooms. But oh Light, the desire to embrace Saidar, to lose herself in its glory, burned within her! She shuddered in anticipation, drawing her tattered brown cloak more tightly around her.


”My my my … what DO we be having here?”


That sickly sweet voice, its bite acid as a peach’s pit, flayed her raw nerves like a Fade’s dying screech. Doraine. The last person in the world she wanted to see right now, right here, with her emotions whirling on the surface instead of decently buried.  Slowly she lifted her eyes to the Green, her lips curled in a gentle smile.  It was deceiving, that smile, a mask she had learned to adopt to please Mistress Asrin. Mistress Asrin was a big believer in facing the world with a smile. ”No need to pout, deary, just because your backside is flaming!’ Mistress Asrin had administered her weekly dose of the strap for 20 years, always with a smile of course.  Her back had become more bent as the years went by, but her arm remained strong as ever. She had started her long journey back to Tar Valon sitting very gingerly in the saddle.


”Still be bonding Trollocs as a habit … and killing them?”  Doraine eyed her up and down, taking in the wild waist length tangle of black hair, the sun ravaged hands and face, the faded cheap brown woollen dress buttoned up to her chin.  The sneer on her face turned into an amused smirk.  ”Though I do doubt even a Trolloc do be able to stomach you, now.”  The smirk became even more malicious.  ”I do be seeing your hair be growing back in the past 2 years.  Did you be missing my monthly visits?  I did be remiss in my … duties, lately."


Red-hot burning rage consumed her. She wanted nothing more than to rip the woman’s throat out, to slice that pretty sneering face with her belt knife.  Her sweet smile never faltered.  Slowly she loosened her death grip on her belt knife.  Killing the woman was not an option; she had not suffered through 20 years of weekly beatings, humiliation, agony and deprivation just to toss it all away the moment she had finally returned. No – she would not toss it all away, but she would be DAMNED if she lurked in the shadows. She had done what she had done, had paid the price for her failure, had learned more than any Aes Sedai in thousands of years – she would not cringe before those who would never have dared what she had.


“Some women do no wet themselves at the sight of a … Trolloc, Doraine,” she mocked the Green and her accent.


Zarinen slipped her cloak of and tossed it to the woman.  “Get rid of that for me – I won’t be needing it again.”


She left the woman spluttering incoherently as she headed off to the Red Quarters.  The Highest and her Red Sisters would be a much tougher challenge than the Amyrlin.


Zarinen Rafaliva

Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah

short history HERE


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  • 2 weeks later...

Raslyn stood to one side watching the little byplay take place in front of her. She'd been on her way to the Mess Halls to get her afternoon tea but this was too good to miss. She'd seen a familiar face enter the Amyrlins' study some time earlier, but couldn't quite put the face to a name, which was unusual for Raslyn, usually her memory of names bordered on legendary. Now though, once she heard that voice and the tone in which it was spoken, the name came back clear as day.


Zarinen! Well I never!  She looks so..worn now. No wonder I couldn't bring her name to mind. She has changed somewhat... Raslyn paused mid-thought as Zarinen put the Green firmly in her place ....but not that much it would appear. Raslyn thought dryly.


Stepping forward out of the shadowed enclave she had been occupying, Raslyn approached the stalking Red and fell in step beside her.


"Welcome back Zarinen. You have returned to us, I see. I do hope you have learned your lesson, we cannot afford to have you sent away again."


She glanced sidelong at the Sisters' face. Yes, much more worn and not quite as beautiful as she once was. Maybe she was less interested in men this time too. "You must be tired after your...journey" She said aloud "Let me take you to your new rooms. I'm afraid your old ones were taken over after you....left. But I'm sure we can find some others you can stay in."

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  • 2 months later...

Still quivering with rage, Zarinen didn’t hear anyone approach until the woman spoke right beside her. A sidelong glance proved that Raslyn looked much the same as when she’d last seen her, twenty years ago. Not a dark hair out of place, dress perfectly neat. It all seemed designed to show up Zarinen’s own dishevelled and haggard appearance, except that Raslyn would never stoop to something like that. Not like a Green … no – she would not think of Greens. Later – there would be time enough later to settle with them.


Friend as she had always been, Raslyn’s words still flayed her nerves all over again. She had brought much shame to her Ajah, she and the other Reds. Some had seemed to think her crime even worse than the dreadful things those others had done. Zarinen shook her head in disgust at the thought.  Raslyn gave her an odd look, but after 20 years of hardly ever talking, she found it almost impossible to engage in a normal conversation.


She walked in silence until they reached her new quarters, only then speaking for the first time. “I learned many lessons, Sister, one of them being: Do what you must, then pay the price.” She hesitated before entering her new rooms. She felt lost, divorced from her previous life, not knowing what her future held. Being able to return to her old rooms would have been comforting, something familiar that she could cling to. Courage. If she had learned anything these past twenty-five years, it was that she could usually find more courage than she thought she had. Taking that first step after Raslyn was one of the most difficult things she had done in a long time. She would have to carve a new life for herself from now on. Maybe even find a new Zarinen, somewhere amongst the fragments of her fractured soul.


She surveyed the room with its generic furniture, though it hardly registered – all she wanted now was to be left alone; she almost shuddered with the need in her. Turning to face Raslyn, she struggled to find words, eventually settling for a curt “I will see you later, Sister.” Whatever Raslyn replied washed over her – she hardly dared to breath until the woman was out the door and gone. She had to employ novice techniques to calm herself enough to embrace the Source. The glory of it filled her to the point of ecstasy. Slowly one tear started to glide down her cheek, then more, until a flood broke and she thudded to her knees. She had thought herself cried out over this many years ago, but holding Saidar made the gaping hole in one corner of her head seem fresh and raw. The agony was too much – releasing the Source, she wrapped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth, sobbing. “Oh Light … Light! I had no choice, Arno … no choice … oh Light forgive me!”


Zarinen Rafaliva

Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah


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  • 1 month later...

Slamming the door behind her with enough force to rattle the bookcase next to it, Zarinen flounced across the floor and flung herself into the chair by the window. Which promptly broke and deposited her on the floor. Which was dusty. A week she had been back in the Tower, and the servingwomen had still not cleaned this pigsty of a place up!  Or brought her decent furniture. She remembered that the last woman who had attempted to do just that, had almost had the (very functional, but plain) clock thrown at her head. The unfortunate woman had come upon Zarinen right after she had collapsed in yet another weeping ball on the floor.


Growling, she heaved herself up and attempted to dust off the back of her dress. It was … well, not ugly, but certainly nothing other than functional. That had never bothered her before, but those Greens … Zarinen grabbed a teacup and hurled it against the opposite wall, where it shattered with a satisfying crash. So satisfying, in fact, that the rest of the cups, saucers, and even the teapot, followed it. Somewhat calmer, Zarinen seated herself, carefully, in the only other available chair. A comfortable thing, but plain.


Her Ajah Sisters tried to support her, but none of them had any experience with losing a Warder. They soon realised that she needed no protection from the comments about her … exploits … or her looks, only a restraining influence lest she do something that shattered the alliance they had with the Green Ajah. Zarinen had a very slender hold on her temper, now. Restraining her was becoming harder and harder. She could not go on like this.  She grabbed the sugar bowl, clutching it till the tendons stood out on her hands, but eventually put it back down carefully. This solved nothing, ultimately. With another growl, she rose and grabbed her cloak. Maybe a walk in the Ogier Gardens would help settle her.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Zarinen stared wide-eyed into the mirror (full-length and new, as was all of the furniture in her apartment), tentatively fingering her dewy skin and lustrous hair. It had been 10 days since her fateful meeting with the Ogier woman, who had led her to a pedlar woman, who had known just the person to introduce her to. Mistress Ayanda had thrown up her hands in horror at the first sight of Zarinen, chiding her like a naughty child for neglecting herself in such a way.


Soon Zarinen had been surrounded by a bustling hive of women, measuring her, prodding her, slathering her hair in rich smelling creams, stripping her skin with a foul smelling concoction that had left it red and tender for days. The skin was the reason she had hidden out in her rooms for this past week. That, and the new clothes which had started arriving a day or two later. At least it had left her with plenty of time to practice the swaying glide Ayanda had taught her.


At first Zarinen had balked, especially when Ayanda said her hair desperately needed cutting. The Domani woman was used to dealing with difficult customers. Why, she had several Green Sisters as clients! That had stopped Zarinen dead in her tracks. After long moments of thought, she’d finally allowed the haircut, albeit with strict instructions that under no circumstances was it to be cut short. Lustrous, rich black curls were the result. Not a tangle or split end to be seen.


The clothes had almost resulted in another argument, but this time not because Zarinen was being conservative. Always one to throw her heart over the fence, Zarinen had insisted on going further than even the most wanton Domani could stomach. The result was evident in the mirror before her. Where it did not cling, it revealed … or both. The ruby nestling between her full breasts had made quite a dent in her bank balance, as had those dangling from her ears and decorating several of her fingers, as well as the pearls threaded through her hair. But all worth it, she thought, as she put the cloak she had been clinging to, back on its hanger. She picked up her red-fringed shawl instead and carefully arranged it to drape only minimally over her arms, resisting the urge to cover her almost fully exposed bosom.


With the first genuine smile to grace her lips in more than twenty years, she opened her door and stepped outside. They said that if you could not beat them, you should join them, but Zarinen had thought of a better way: outdo them at their own game. The Greens were not going to be happy.


Zarinen Rafaliva

Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah



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