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A Night of Reflection? (Attn. Esther & Nastascia)

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Gianna sat in her room; trying to still the shaking that wanted to overcome her.  She had done it; she had passed the test.  Tomorrow, she would be Aes Sedai.  It was all she had dreamed of for years now, and now the time was finally at hand.

 

Two Aes Sedai present during her test had deposited her at her room for the last time.  Gianna had sat on the edge of her bed, contemplating the hurts she had received in the ter'angreal-- both physical and emotional.  That cold Blue, Nastascia, had been present again for her testing.  Gianna was sure that some of the most vicious scenarios she had faced were Nasty's doing.  Her shaking was from the rage, not fatigue.

 

The audacity of that woman!  I am sure the burning of Cairhien was her doing, as was Toram's presence during my last weave.  She must have wanted me to fail!

 

She thought long and hard on the implications of this, and her thoughts also strayed to the box that was carefully concealed under her bed.  Gianna had toyed with this idea for a couple of weeks now, ever since that conversation with Elyssa in the Blue quarters.  It had been only a few days since she had managed to convince a stable hand to supply her with the mice and beetles.  She had received them just in time, it seemed.

 

After receiving Healing for the injuries she sustained during the testing, Gianna was ravenous.  Almost as if summoned by her thoughts, a light knock sounded at her door.  Gianna went to open it; a slim and beautiful woman from the Kitchens stood there, holding a tray full of food.  The young lady's name was Charise, she was an under-manager of the Kitchens.  As Charise entered the room to place the tray on the small table, inspiration struck Gianna like lightning.  She turned to the diminutive woman.

 

"Charise?  Do you remember how you told me that if I ever needed a favor in return for my help that day....to ask?"  Charise turned toward her and nodded, the obvious question on her face.  She had a wonderful figure, and she had been suffering the unwanted attentions of the male helpers in the Kitchens until Gianna had noticed her predicament one day while scrubbing pots.  Gianna had gone straight to Laras and explained the situation; the next day the offending males were out of the Kitchens on their noses and Charise was a new under-manager.  She would do anything to return the favor to this young Accepted. 

 

No...not Accepted, not anymore.  This young lady is now almost Aes Sedai.  I hope she will remain the same kind soul after she gains the shawl tomorrow.

 

"Of course I remember, Gianna.  What is it that I may do for you?"

 

Gianna quickly explained her plot, and Charise couldn't help but let a smile spread slowly across her face.  She agreed readily to the plan and made her courtesies and left for the Kitchens.  Charise rubbed her hands together eagerly as she walked, yet stifled the chuckles of delight that wanted to escape from her mouth.  Nastascia had this coming, there was no doubt of that.  Charise couldn't remember the number of times the dour Blue had thrown a fit at the Kitchen staff for some affront or another.

 

Charise quickened her pace; she had some specially ordered tea to dispose of.

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Gianna quietly closed the door behind the graceful Kitchen worker as she left.  She had some quick planning to do, but the first matter at hand was the wonderful smells wafting from the tray the woman had deposited on her table.

 

Throwing the cloth covering the tray aside, Gianna's mouth watered as she revealed the hearty meal.  Hot and crusty bread and butter, three kinds of cheeses, a soup of shaved beef and vegetables, and a large pot of tea.  She poured a cup of the tea first and took a sip.  The sweet flavor of honey hit her tongue like a hammer.  Honey was only for special occasions if you were a Novice or Accepted.  Gianna supposed this qualified as a special occasion, indeed.  She wasted no time setting to the feast in front of her, and it was only a short while before she was drawing the last crumbs of bread through the liquid left in the bottom of the soup bowl.

 

She stood and paced the room, deep in thought.  This prank would require a dupe; she couldn't draw Nastascia away from her room herself without drawing suspicion later.  After going through the list of other Accepted in her mind a few times, she settled on Esther.  The girl was pure innocence; she would never suspect Gianna's intentions being anything other than pure.  And she knew that Charise would provide the perfect foil and would reveal nothing of her part, even if beaten.  Hopefully it wouldn't come to that, if all worked out as planned.

 

Gianna judged the time, decided it was somewhere around blackbirds, the middle of the night.  Not so late that it would be unreasonable for the Kitchens to assume that an Aes Sedai might still be up.  She should get started.

 

She collected the wooden box from under her bed and left her room, entering the Accepted gallery.  No Accepteds or Novices would be out at this hour, but Gianna walked quietly just the same.  She arrived in front of Esther's room and shifted the box to rest under her right arm where it wouldn't be prominent.  She knocked firmly and took a step back to wait.  The girl would likely be asleep; it would take a little while before she came to the door.

 

So much for a night of "reflection"...although I might get a good look at my reflection in the Mistress of Novice's study before the end of it.

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Esther was tired. More tired than she had ever been in her life. She had been warned that the first few weeks of Acceptedhood were deliberately hard to weed out those who had slipped through, but Light! Every part of her seemed to ache, from her head to her toes. Sleep was a luxury, these days, since she spent most nights studying into the small hours. She’d never thought she would get tired of studying, but she was close to praying for just one candlemark of rest. Light, a quarter candlemark would do!

 

Sighing, she marked the page with a feather, then closed the book on Shadowspawn she’d been studying. Esther had never even seen a Trolloc, never mind any of the other exotic creatures described in it. Normally this would have held her fascinated, but she just wanted to sleep! Wearily she rose, knuckling the small of her back. Stumbling over to her washstand, she removed her banded dress and hung it neatly in her wardrobe. A real wardrobe! Novices had to make do with pegs on the wall, but Accepted had a few more luxuries. She stroked the dress, still filled with pride at having come so far, then closed the door resolutely. No wasting time on useless reflections, now – at the moment she wasn’t even sure if she wouldn’t rather be back in the novice quarters. At least she would get some sleep, there!

 

A quick brush of her teeth with soda and salt, a half-hearted attempt at combing her hair, and Esther collapsed gratefully into her bed. She fell asleep before she could draw the blanket over herself completely. It seemed only moments before she was awakened by a soft but persistent knocking on her door. Fighting off the clinging arms of sleep, she rose and stumbled over to the door. Who under the Light would be bothering her at this time of night? Esther flung open the door, ready to lambast whoever it was, but was brought up short by the sight of a banded dress. Befuddled by sleep, Esther curtsied, then blushed fierily when she remembered that she was an Accepted too, now. Blinking, she tried to focus on the woman’s face.

 

“Gianna? What’s the matter?” A yawn made her jaws creak as she gazed blearily at the woman.

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

 

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Gianna hid a smile as the confused Accepted opened her door.  The girl had not been raised very long, sleepy wits led her to drop a curtsy before she could think about it.  Gianna didn't give any hint that she had seen the error as Esther straightened and peered down at her in the dark corridor.

 

"Gianna? What's the matter?"  The girl opened her mouth in a wide yawn.  Gianna grabbed her arm gently and pulled her into the gallery.  Esther still looked confused, but Gianna spoke before she could protest.

 

"Esther, I am truly sorry to wake you with this, but I have several errands tonight and need help carrying one of them out."  Esther most likely did not know that Gianna had been tested today, so this would be an easy dupe.  "Charise from the Kitchens needs to see Nastascia Sedai most urgently; can you go to the Blue quarters and tell her so?  Once you have delivered the message, you can come back here to your bed." Gianna paused for a moment in thought.  "And Esther, could you do me a favor and not mention me in your conversation with Nastascia?  I would hate to be called down for not taking the message myself."

 

She waited to see if Esther had digested all of this, and wondered what her response would be.

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Deliver a message to an Aes Sedai in the middle of the night? Or maybe it was much later than Esther thought. These days she always felt as if she had just put her head down when a novice came to wake her up. “Very well, let me just get a dress on,” she mumbled through another yawn. It did not even occur to her to wonder why Charise hadn’t just gone to Nastascia Sedai, instead of sending her a message. “Don’t worry about it – I won’t tell Nastascia that you were supposed to deliver the message, not me.” Nasty piece of work, that Nastascia. Esther could quite understand why Gianna would not want to get on the Sister’s wrong side.

 

Esther rushed back into her room and grabbed her banded dress, pulling it hastily over her head while attempting to comb her hair into some semblance of order at the same time. She dipped a cloth in the water on her washstand and gave her face a hasty swipe with it, flinching at the iciness, but she had no time to channel it warm. Besides, it seemed to wake her up a bit.

 

As tidy as she could make herself in the short time available, Esther pulled the door closed behind her and trotted off to the Blue quarters. Luckily she knew exactly where the Sister’s rooms were, having run errands for her before, so she wasted no time in rushing up to it and knocking firmly on the door. She had time to tidy her hair and straighten her dress a bit more before Nastascia Sedai appeared, not looking best pleased. Esther dropped a low and formal curtsy, hoping to appease the Blue. “Forgiveness, Nastascia Sedai. I have a message for you from Charise – she needs to see you in the Kitchens urgently.” She thought that was the message Gianna had given her to deliver.

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

 

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“Very well, let me just get a dress on, don’t worry about it – I won’t tell Nastascia that you were supposed to deliver the message, not me.”

 

Gianna nodded and Esther disappeared inside her room.  Gianna took the opportunity to slip away while the other Accepted was dressing.  She would need every spare second to do this and so she wanted to be at the Blue quarters well ahead of Esther.

 

She walked briskly through the corridors, fighting the urge to run.  She WAS almost Aes Sedai now, and it wouldn't do to be seen running anywhere.  She reached the blue and white floor tiles that let Gianna know she was approaching the Blue Ajah quarters.  Gianna slowed and looked around her.  She could not see Esther anywhere behind her; that was good.  She crept forward into the Blue Ajah quarters, keeping her eyes peeled for any sisters wandering at this late hour.

 

Just ahead was the Blue Ajah common area where Gianna had sat with Elyssa not two weeks ago.  There was a high backed settee there, and next to it were a couple of well-foliaged potted plants.

 

Perfect.

 

Gianna went to the settee and squeezed behind it.  She scooted over to an edge by a plant and squatted on her heels, peering out between the leaves at the corridor.  She thought she could hear footsteps in the distance, and froze, clutching the box against her lap.

 

Esther came into view, moving at a trot.  Apparently the younger woman had no qualms about being seen running.  Probably in a hurry to get back to her blankets; I would be too.  As Esther passed Gianna's hiding place, she was relieved that she could not sense the younger woman's channeling ability from this distance.  She was afraid that she would be found out by Nastascia simply by her ability to channel, but it looked like that wouldn't be the case.

 

She heard the knock on Nasty's door echo down the corridor and winced.  Was that girl trying to wake up the whole Ajah?  Luckily, it seemed the rest of the sisters were either too tired or too disinterested to see who was making such a racket.  Gianna heard Nastascia come to the door, but couldn't make out what was said between Sedai and Accepted.  At any rate, both of them passed back past her hiding place a short while later.  Gianna watched as the two parted ways at the junction of the quarters and the main Tower hallway, Esther back toward the Accepted Gallery and Nastascia towards the stairs that led down to the level with the Kitchens.

 

Gianna let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding.  She stood and edged around the potted plant, then strode around the corner toward Nastascia's door.  Gianna stared up at the door for a few minutes and judged the amount of time that had passed.  Nastascia should be arriving at the Kitchens soon, and it would take her at least as long to come back here if not longer since she would be climbing the stairs and not descending.  She steeled her will and embraced saidar but did not channel.  The door was unlocked, but Gianna could assume that Nasty had a ward around her room and wanted to be prepared if there were any unpleasant surprises in store for her. 

 

She pushed the door open gently and entered the room.  All was still and quiet and dark.  She channeled the door shut and rushed over to the bed.  If there had been a ward, Nasty would have felt it and would be on her way back immediately.  Gianna knelt at the foot of the bed and pulled a pen knife from her belt pouch.  The stitching in the end of the feather bed gave way easily, and Gianna set down the knife and opened up the box gingerly.  Inside were several mice and many of the beetles that frequented the stables.  Gianna channeled Air to delicately lift the creatures and gently place them inside the mattress.

 

That done, Gianna used Air to hold the cut fabric edges together and brought out a threaded sewing needle from her pouch.  Several quick whipstitches were enough to hold the fabric in place and prevent the animals from making an untimely escape.  Feeling the need for urgency, Gianna gathered the items and quickly ran back through the door and into the corridor.  She could hear stamping feet in the distance and almost panicked.  Gianna gathered her skirts and RAN back to the hiding place behind the settee.  She got in a crouch behind it not a moment too soon. 

 

Nastascia stalked past, her face a mask of fury.  Gianna heard her open the door to her room and practically slam it behind her.  All was quiet for several minutes and Gianna imagined Nasty was examining her room for any mislaid items.  She took the opportunity to creep away down the corridor til she was almost to the junction with the main hall.  Gianna slid behind a tapestry on the wall and waited.

 

Ten minutes passed, then a quarter of an hour.  Gianna thought perhaps that all the mice and bugs had managed to escape, after all.  Just as she was about to give up and head back to her room, she heard what she had been waiting for.  A blood-curdling scream echoed through the halls of the Blue Ajah.  All down the corridor, she could hear doors opening to see what all the fuss was about.  Gianna smiled and slipped quietly out from behind the tapestry and stole away into the larger corridors of the hall.  Even several hundred feet away now, she could still hear Nastascia's shrieks.

 

A smug smile on her face, Gianna disposed of the box and made her way to the Mistress of Novice's quarters.

 

Best to do this now, before Nasty gets her wits about her and comes here demanding Esther be pulled from her blankets.

 

She knocked soundly on the door and waited for the inevitable.

 

 

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According to many in the Tower, Nasty was a nickname to be taken literally – particularly if one was still in whites.  Natascia had embraced this long ago and simply found it amusing; those who knew not to take the nickname too seriously were those familiar with her sense of humour.  Novices and Accepted never understood this.  She took teaching seriously, the ability to channel saidar was a burden few had the privilege and burden to bear.  It was not enough to educate the next generation to the same level as their elders.  The task of an Aes Sedai was to use their gift to improve the world: this meant teaching Novices and Accepted to be smarter, harder, better than the current Aes Sedai.  It was for their own good that Nasty was so hard on them.  The same rang true for the raising tests.  An Aes Sedai unable to perform her duties did neither herself nor the Tower any good.  The Tower must not fail or else the world would be lost should Tarmon Gaidon loom on the horizon – it could not afford weaknesses.

 

This rational excused any guilt she might have felt for everything she had inflicted upon the poor girl tested tonight.  The girl, Nastascia thought her name might have been Gianna, had passed and would be stronger because of her hard hand.  Sleep came easily.

 

...until it was interrupted by a knock at the door.  She may not be the cold-hearted woman some thought her to be, but Nasty did not, in the slightest, appreciate being awoken.

 

Throwing a robe over her shift, she opened the door to find a rather nervous looking Novice.  The Blue Sitter scowled harder, wondering if she could make the girl cry – yes, this was in fact her sense of humour and yes, it just got worse when she was tired.  Apparently some Charise person required her presence in the kitchens.  This Charise had better be prepared to die via asphyxiation, waking her up in the middle of the night for Light knows what reason...

 

“I’m not inclined to forgive anyone who wakes me up at this hour of the night, Child.  Now get back to bed, before I decide your nocturnal tendencies should be put to work mucking out stalls.”

 

The passing of an hour found Nastascia on the warpath.  Charise did not, in fact, have any need of her presence and was only too happy to get rid of the snarling Blue Sister.  Obviously that idiot Accepted thought it amusing to attract the ire of Aes Sedai; Nasty would show her the meaning of... well, nasty!  In the morning, though, Light she was exhausted.  A brief once-over of the room showed the child hadn’t done anything stupider than disrupt her sleep.  She collapsed on the bed.

 

Something tickled her foot.  Assuming it was just a fly or maybe even a mosquito, she kicked it away.  Now it was crawling around her arm, she brushed it away again.  Persistent little bugger then went for her face.  Irritated, Nasty rolled over.

 

SQUEEEEEAAAAAAAAAK!

 

Nastascia Romanovni had faced many terrible things in her life: her Arches, the one hundred weaves, even a horde of Shadowspan or two.  Nonetheless, Nastascia Romanovni did not like mice – or any other rodent with that disgusting serpentine tail.  Her very “un-Aes Sedai-like” screech probably woke most of the Blue Ajah.

 

Warpath no longer described her.  Other Blue Sisters, around from their beauty sleep, poked their heads out into the hallway and watched amused as Nasty stalked through the Blue Quarters towards the Accepted galleries.  Someone was about to pay!

 

She didn’t bother to knock, simply bursting through the door so quickly it crashed into the wall and woke the room’s sleeping occupant.  “Mucking out stalls it is, child.  Up.  Now.”

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Even though she had been warned about the Sister’s rather unforgiving nature and viper tongue, Esther was still slightly taken aback by her words. She was only doing her duty as instructed, after all, not waking Nastascia up at a whim! Still, as tired as she herself felt, she could appreciate the woman’s ire at being woken up. No need to take it out on someone below her in rank, though, someone who did not have the luxury of telling her to get lost. Not that she could imagine one Aes Sedai saying that to another; still, she made a mental note to always try and be fair to the novices, now that she was a rank above them.

 

Letting none of her disapproval show on her face (Larindhra had been very firm with her over that), she murmured an apology for disturbing the woman’s sleep, dropped a curtsy deep enough for the Amyrlin, and tried to part ways with the Aes Sedai as speedily as possible. By the look on Nastascia’s face, poor Charise was not going to be spared the Sister’s wrath, no matter how dire her problem was.

 

As she undressed and fell back into bed, Esther wondered briefly what was Charise’s urgent need, but sleep took her before she could even complete the thought. Yet again, it seemed that her head had just touched her pillow before she was woken up, this time by her door being flung open so hard that it bounced off the wall. Esther almost fell on her face as she tried to scrambled out of bed once she realised who it was that had awoken her. She barely stifled a groan at the look of fury on Nastascia’s face. “Mucking out stalls it is, child.  Up.  Now.”

 

“What??”

 

Now Esther could be outspoken when she saw the need, but only utter surprise and slow wits brought on be extreme sleep deprivation could ever have made her utter that word in that tone, to an Aes Sedai. She just knew she was going to regret that. Very shortly. 

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

 

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The fool whined.

 

Fighting back the need to strangle some sense into the idiot child, Nasty sneered.  “Don’t play stupid with me, child.  Even your minimal level of intelligence should know that to prank an Aes Sedai in the middle of the night to get your jollies off would come back to bite... no, rip you to tiny little shreds!”  It was amazing the anger that could be expressed without raising one’s voice.  Her tone was iron, red hot, searing into the girl’s flesh.  Light, she must have been a Questioner in another life.

 

Despite her threats, the Accepted’s face was still blank, of answers at least.  Actually, giving it a second thought, the prank had been far too obvious.  Could it be she had the wrong culprit?  Oh well, too late to back down now.  No Aes Sedai liked being seen to be wrong – least of all Natascia.  “Don’t wet yourself, child.  Out with it!  What in the Light’s name were you thinking?”

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Esther stared at Nastascia Sedai, her face remaining perfectly expressionless, except for her left eyebrow, which slowly started to rise. Clearly, this Aes Sedai was furious. And clearly, she was unable to think logically when she lost control of her temper. Esther also had a temper, but even she had learned to control it better than this, and she was hardly out of novice whites!

 

She was known to be a teacher’s pet, always polite and very hardworking, but Esther did have a tendency to expect perfection; not only from herself, but also from others. Most of those few times she had been punished, it had been for making it clear that someone had not met her expectations. Aes Sedai tended to look askance at that. Esther took her punishment, but nothing changed her mind, or her attitude. It looked like this was going to be one of those times. Really, the Sister should have known better. Obviously, someone was playing a prank, but without proof of whom, Esther was not going to get Gianna in trouble too.

 

“Forgive me, Nastascia Sedai, but I’m sure you are aware that Accepted are not encouraged to think when they are given instructions to take a message to a Sister, but rather to do it as speedily as possible. Especially when the message is delivered with such haste and urgency that the bearer of said message does not linger long enough to even make her identity known.” There, that was all perfectly true, and should give the impression that she had no idea who gave her the message in the first place without having to directly speak the lie. Hopefully that would spare Gianna from whatever fate was in store for Esther.

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

Such a prig

 

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After a long interval, the Mistress of Novices responded to her soft knocking at the door.  When she saw who stood at her threshold, she stepped backwards and beckoned Gianna to enter.

 

Gianna closed the door behind her, and followed in silence as the Red sat behind her desk.  Larindhra pulled her dressing-gown closed as she sat, and her hair was unbound and down over her shoulder.  Gianna remained standing in front of the desk, unsure of whether to curtsy.  She finally decided it best for her do so, and dropped a small but respectful one.  Larindhra arched an eyebrow.

 

"Well, what is it, child, that brings you to disturb me during your Night of Reflection?"

 

The capitals were evident in the phrase as she spoke it.  Gianna drew herself up, and spilled out the entire story. 

 

"Upon reaching my quarters this evening, I concocted a plan to obtain revenge against Nastascia Sedai for her cold treatment of me during my testings and in the halls.  I am not one to usually pull pranks, as you know, Aes Sedai."  Larindhra nodded, impatient for her to go on.

 

"Well, I woke the Accepted Esther, and told her that Nastascia Sedai was needed in the Kitchens, and would she help me by delivering the message?  Esther agreed, oblivious to my plan.  I arrived at the Blue quarters well ahead of her, for she had to dress and clean up before leaving.  I hid in the shadows of the Blue Ajah's halls until Esther came to deliver her message and both women left the halls.  I then entered the rooms of Nastascia Sedai, opened up the foot of her feather bed, deposited several mice and dung beetles within the mattress, then sewed it back up."

 

Larindhra listened to all of this intently, and Gianna fancied the corner of the Red's mouth might be trying to twitch into a smile.  But it didn't materialize, and so she continued the end of her tale.

 

"I hid in the shadows again when Nastascia returned.  I tarried only long enough to hear her screams several minutes later when she discovered the creatures.  Then I came directly to you to report what I have done.  I know that I deserve a penance, and I fear that Nastascia will be wroth, and take out her anger on the first target she can think of, being Esther.  I used the girl as a dupe, but I would not have her suffer for following my request."

 

The Mistress of Novices sat still for several moments, contemplating the situation.  She finally rose to face Gianna.

 

"I will say that I am disappointed in you Gianna, even if Nastascia's discomfiture may amuse me.  Needless to say, this is not the way I would define a Night of Reflection.  Perhaps you will be able to concentrate more on the burdens you will take up tomorrow with a set of fresh bruises across your bottom."

 

She motioned for Gianna to assume the position, which the not-Accepted, not-Sedai did.  Gianna made no effort to stem her tears as the slipper came down across her thighs, forced herself to look at her reflection in the mirror as the blows showered down.  It was over within a couple of minutes, and Gianna stood and composed herself.  She turned to Larindhra, surprised to see that the Red was not marking the punishment down in the logs.  The Mistress noticed her gaze and smirked a bit.

 

"No need for this to be recorded.  You are essentially Aes Sedai now, and you did act properly in turning yourself in for punishment.  There is no need for anyone but you or I to know what transpired here.  Now go back to your room Gianna, and spend the rest of this night in a more proper manner, please."

 

Gianna nodded and turned to go, but a thought called her short.  "Larindhra Sedai, what will happen to Esther?"

 

The Red chuckled a bit as she tied her dressing gown shut to go out in the corridors.  "Not to worry about that, Gianna.  Nastascia will soon learn that I preciously guard my rights to be the only Sedai doling out punishments around here."

 

Relieved, Gianna turned to go back to the Accepted gallery, and she heard the Red's slippered feet padding not far behind her.  When she reached her room, Gianna strained to see Esther's door, but it was too far down the corridor.  She hoped the young Accepted was faring all right.

 

She entered her room and spent the rest of the night kneeling in thought, as her tender bottom wouldn't allow her to sit.

 

OOC: Elgee, do you want me to write a post as Lar coming to your rescue after Nasty lays into you a bit more?

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OOC: Heck yes! - I'd love to see that  ;D

 

I presume Nasty is now going to blast Esther from a dizzy height, and Larindhra will enter the scene during Esther's reply? Esther needs 2 more posts.

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OOC: Commence blasting from dizzy height :P

 

Whatever had happened to the meek Accepted of years gone by that knew their place and did not question the authority of Aes Sedai?  Nastascia was going to have a word with the Mistress of Novices about this child, bloody Red couldn’t handle her charges!  She was probably too busy dreaming of chasing after some poor, doomed boy.

 

Maybe that wasn’t fair, but Nasty was tired, damnit!  In the meantime, this poor girl would have to bear the brunt of her temper.  She sneered at the girl’s pathetic attempt at an excuse: claiming ignorance was the wrong answer.  “Child, we do encourage you to think!  Tell me, what do you imagine could be so important that a kitchen girl requires the presence of a specific Aes Sedai in the middle of the night?  Please, tell me what your imagination comes up with – wait, you’ve already stated that you’re incapable of thinking for yourself.  What kind of an Aes Sedai do you think you’ll make if you are so easily manipulated by another?”  Her voice was probably a touch too loud for this hour of the night; no doubt she had woken the Accepted in the rooms nearby.  On the plus side, this tongue lashing should deter any further pranks for the next few weeks.

 

“As for the secret identity of the messenger...  How many Accepted are there left in the Tower?  Too many that you can’t think of their names?  You know who it is.  Out with it!  Mucking out stalls isn’t the worse I could have you doing.”

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Stubborn. Esther liked calm, order and a drama free life, but at the core of her being was a stubbornness that would not allow her to be pushed too far. The hopelessness of her previous life had almost suppressed that, but here at the Tower she had found a worth in herself. She was a person with intelligence and talent. Her lack of looks were not the deciding factor anymore. Never again would she allow someone else to dictate the essence of her existence.

 

Esther believed in rules. She believed in obeying orders. She fully approved of the hierarchy in the White Tower. That being said, Esther also believed that Aes Sedai should act in a reasoned, logical and dignified manner. Esther did not deal well with people who failed to fulfil her expectations. Utter perfection had always been expected from her, and utter perfection was what she thought was expected from everyone. Compassion and acceptance of normal human failures was a concept alien to her upbringing. As her belief in herself and her own potential grew, so did her previous diffident disposition wane. Where before she would have kept her opinions to herself, she was more inclined to express them, now.

 

Raising her chin, she looked Nastascia fully in the eye. “Your pardon, Aes Sedai, but my words were that Accepted were not encouraged to think when given instructions regarding a Sister, not that I am incapable of thinking for myself. Whatever my thoughts on the matter are is of no consequence. What your dealings with someone from the kitchen could be is none of my business. From my observation, members of the Blue Ajah are often meeting strange people at strange times, therefore a meeting in the kitchen in the small hours of the night is hardly a matter to concern me.”

 

Logically, Esther should have just told the Sister who had passed on the instructions to her. Logically, by her own standards, she should have obeyed whatever command the Aes Sedai gave her. Yet she found herself stubbornly refusing to do so. She did not think about this deviance in her own behaviour, even as she still tried to adhere to the rule about not lying. “I am afraid I cannot give you the name of the Accepted who gave me the message, Nastascia Sedai. I was half asleep and it was dark in the gallery outside my room.”  All true, yet not the whole truth. She didn’t know why she could not give Nastascia the name, yet it was simple truth – she would take any punishment this woman gave to her, but give up the name she could not.

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

 

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Larindhra padded silently on slippered feet through the Accepted gallery.  She shook her head and smiled a bit at the idea of Nastascia screaming and running through the Blue Ajah quarters.  That must have been a sight to see...

 

She quickly schooled her face to stillness as she reached the far end of the Gallery.  The Red could hear two voices, one slightly raised with intensity, the other one quieter but no less intense.  The quiet one would be Esther...and the louder one Nastascia, who so definitely deserved the nick name of "Nasty".

 

The stand lamps barely penetrated the gloom of the corridor, but she finally could see the irascible Blue standing in front of Esther's door, berating the poor child.  Well, I will put a stop to this right now.  She took a step forward and spoke to Nastascia.

 

"What is the meaning of this, sister?" 

 

Nastascia whirled around in surprise and when she saw Larindhra, her face quickly morphed from surprise to distaste.  Nasty's dislike for anyone not of her Ajah (and even many of those in her Ajah) was no secret.  Well, this superiority would stop here.  The Red drew herself up and continued.

 

"Far be it from me to interfere in another sister's business, Nastascia, but I feel the need to remind you that the Novices and Accepted are MY charge, and mine alone.  If you feel this child needs to be questioned about something, it is the province of the Mistress of Novices to handle it, not for you to take it upon yourself."

 

Larindhra noted with pleasure that Esther was staying silent and unobtrusive throughout all of this, which kept the Blue from noticing her now that Lar had turned the attention to herself.  Nasty opened her mouth, but the Red plunged ahead before she could speak.

 

"Now, I have heard of your...misfortunes...tonight, and you have my sympathies.  However I must let you know that this child had nothing to do with the incident other than being an unwitting dupe of the person who paid the unsolicited visit to your rooms."

 

The Blue swallowed what she had been about to say.  When she recovered, her voice was ice when she spoke.

 

"How can you know this?"

 

"I know this because the real culprit visited my chambers not a half-hour ago and confessed all that she had done, including tricking this young woman into being the messenger that got you to leave your rooms.  So I suggest we let Esther get back to her blankets, as she will already be suffering through tomorrow because of the lack of sleep tonight.  I hope you do not have any objections?"

 

Larindhra made it clear in her voice that she didn't give two goats if Nastascia had any objections, but she waited for the explosion all the same.

 

Light, I shouldn't enjoy provoking her so much, but it is so bloody easy to do so...

 

 

 

 

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OOC: Is Nasty going to reply, or should I just go ahead and do a final post for Esther?

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Go ahead. I left Nasty's ... nastyness for Estel in this thread and she's a little MIA for work on the farm. That time of the year. :) If you need need Nasty, just poke me and I'll jump in to replace as needed until Estel returns.

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OOC: I think that would be brilliant  ;D

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Nastasia pulled her shawl around her shoulders, as if gathering herself through a more physical means. Counting carefully in her head and with a deep sigh, refusing to allow her fatigue to over take her this night. Should the whispers be correct, then tomorrow will be quite an eventful day for the Blue Ajah and this nightly escapade was the only thing keeping her from . . . there was no bed for her. It had been sown out with mice -light, did she hate mice!- and light knew what else.

 

She eyed the Red Mistress of Novices, full well aware that her defense of the poor child and her assailant crossed over the line between Ajah rivalry. In Nastacia's defense, she at least settled the matter within her own Ajah that would certainly see that no Red ever found its way onto the Amyrlin Seat should the Pattern to continue to weave out Amyrlin's every year that the Final Battle grew closer. Despicable, defiling Red. Were it not for the decorum of the Shawl and years of discipline, she would have spat at the woman's feet.

 

The voice was even, collect, if not even mildly tired. Her anger receding- if only barely as Larindhra voice carried more weight than hers. "If you feel the Novice has done nothing wrong, send her to her bed, by all means. There is a matter of my bed, and I see no reason for this Child, who not only proceeded to carry out a task without thought, but also failed to show respect to an Aes Sedai, to go back to a warm bed when I can not. She will, for her lip and lack of brain, see that my bed is cleaned of all manner of creatures before she shall return to her bed. Then we shall not speak of this night again." It was her word, her verdict. Larindhra may carry weight, but with a small smirk on her lips curved ever so delicately Nastasia knew that no act may go unpunished; regardless of the punishment. The very though of allowing the night to go without another word for the sake of one room being cleaned of mice and light knew what else would become her very beautiful bargaining chip. Justice, if at least in its smallest measures, was ever so sweet.

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Larindhra managed to keep her anger in check as she listened to the egotistical Blue decree what would be Esther's punishment.

 

"If you feel the Novice has done nothing wrong, send her to her bed, by all means. There is a matter of my bed, and I see no reason for this Child, who not only proceeded to carry out a task without thought, but also failed to show respect to an Aes Sedai, to go back to a warm bed when I can not. She will, for her lip and lack of brain, see that my bed is cleaned of all manner of creatures before she shall return to her bed. Then we shall not speak of this night again."

 

How DARE she?  She doesn't even know what rank the child is, and she presumes too much. Lar bristled at the audacity of the woman.  She meant to put her in her place, for good and for all.  "Nastascia, as I said before, I do feel sympathy for your predicament.  However it is NOT and NEVER WILL BE your task to decide what punishment I set for an unruly Accepted.  I do my job, and I do it well.  And though the true culprit has already confessed and been punished, I will take care of your claim Esther was out of line."

 

The Mistress of Novices turned her gaze on the young Accepted. "Is this true, Esther?  Did you follow instructions without question this evening, and did you fail to show the proper respect due to Nastascia Sedai?"

 

She held a hand up to forestall the girl as she opened her mouth. "No explanations, please.  A simple yes or no will do."

 

Esther dropped her eyes to her shoes and mumbled, "Yes, Larindhra Sedai."

 

Of COURSE it's true.  That one always has to argue with Sedai.  Too bad she couldn't have argued with Gianna, who got her into this mess.

 

The Red nodded curtly.  "Well as you've confessed, I have no choice but to dole out punishment. For showing lack of respect to an Aes Sedai, you will go at this instant to the servant's quarters and wake up two of the bedchamber servants.  You will take them to Nastascia's room, explain to them what they are to do, then come back here and return to your bed.  In this way, your punishment will reflect the exact size of the part you played in tonight's misfortunes...and no more."  She directed the end of her statement towards Nastascia, who had narrowed her eyes.  Esther curtsied quickly and took off down the corridor, barely pausing to slip her shoes on and shut her door.

 

Alone in the gallery with the Blue, Larindhra struck before Nastascia could explode.  "I will always punish in what I feel is a just manner, Nastascia.   You would have had her punished for both doing as she was told and also for showing some backbone; you can't have it both ways.  You will never presume to do my job for me again, do you understand?  Take it upon yourself again, and you might find YOURSELF at my office for a dose of the slipper.  Now unless you have anything else to say, I plan on returning to bed.  Likely you will wish to do the same...once the mice are removed, of course."

 

 

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Ooc: it was 'my' bad, I thought she was a novice, not accepted. If you don't mind the edit, i don't either.

//edit. PM'd you.

 

 

There was a glint in the woman's eyes that threatened her to just try and shout back at her. Larindhra' smirk would have suited her so well had Nastasia wish she had a better argument to wipe it of. Of course, she would in the end blame it to the lack of sleep but never the less. . . Nastasia walked into Larindhra's personal sphere, close enough to cause uncomfort if at least force the woman to step back should she not wish for them to meet nose to nose; physically speaking.

 

"Tower Servants are paid to do a specific job and only that job. They are not to be awoken at unusual hours of the night to clean up after the jollies of some child who wanted to make a Sisters night miserable. You have one hour to rectify this before I bring this to a higher authority. And, if I may say so, I do not go out of my way to punish undeserving Accepted unless they have made the unfortunate decision to cross my path. And unless you wish to dole out punishments to every possible slight that a Novice and Accepted incurs I suggest you keep to your area as I will keep to mine. Should you wish for that further right, take it to Mother. I'm sure she would be delighted to know that her appointed Mistress of Novices considers all her Aes Sedai are incapable of handling the future of the Tower." Before Larindhra could comment, her mouth gaping with rage, Nastasia added a quick, "Good Night, Larindhra" and promptly turned to leave the halls and return to a room hopefully being attended to by novices. Tower staff! That woman was either incredibly stupid, or entirely daft in knowing how a the Tower was to be run.

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"Is this true, Esther?  Did you follow instructions without question this evening, and did you fail to show the proper respect due to Nastascia Sedai?"

 

Of course she had shown the proper respect to Nasty … Nastascia Sedai! She opened her mouth to explain that she had only tried to give Nastascia Sedai the true facts, but Larindhra forestalled her.  "No explanations, please.  A simple yes or no will do."

 

How could she give a simple yes or no when the answer to the first question was yes, and to the second question was no? She almost spoke, but the tension in the air eventually penetrated the obtuseness that normally surrounded her with regards to politics and subtleties. There was more going on here than just a simple prank gone wrong. This is not about me at all, I think.  Esther wasn’t one to gamble; she normally liked to think things through and evaluate carefully. This time, though, there was no time for that. She had to follow her instinct, and pray to the Light that she was choosing the right path.

 

She dropped her eyes, attempting to look suitably chastened, and chose the answer she thought the most expedient. “Yes, Larindhra Sedai.”

 

"Well as you've confessed, I have no choice but to dole out punishment. For showing lack of respect to an Aes Sedai, you will go at this instant to the servant's quarters and wake up two of the bedchamber servants.  You will take them to Nastascia's room, explain to them what they are to do, then come back here and return to your bed.  In this way, your punishment will reflect the exact size of the part you played in tonight's misfortunes...and no more."

 

With another mumbled “Yes, Larindhra Sedai” and a hasty curtsy, Esther backed into her room. Hastily she donned her shoes then slipped out of her room as unobtrusively as she could, closing the door softly behind her. She sidled past the two Aes Sedai, who seemed to have squared off as if for a fight to the death. Light, I want no part of their fight!

 

Esther set of down the passage at as fast a walk as she could manage without openly running. Thoughts whirled through her head as she roused two servants out of their beds and led them to Nastascia’s room. What had that been about? She had always assumed that Aes Sedai were a homogenous group, always striving together for the good of the Tower, but there had been open enmity between Larindhra and Nastascia.

 

It was time to open her eyes and study more than her books, it seemed. Esther had the uncomfortable feeling that her days of childish innocence were over, and she had better learn fast, or get trampled.

 

 

Esther Tremaine

Accepted

 

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