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The Wheel turns: Carina's testing and Oaths (attn. Claire)

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Carina sat, as per usual, cross legged on the floor of the library in an island of open books sprawled around her. She loved this place, though still preferred to do her reading outside under the trees. She choose the library today as she couldn't afford the distractions the forrest animals inevitably provided and the Greens were having some sort of training camp going that had the entire outside of the White Tower in an uproar. Too much noise and too many distractions for her research. The book in her lap lay open on a page showing a picture of a squirrel and she was scribling notes in her little pocketsized notebook. Earlier that day one such squirrel had suddenly leaped on to her shoulder and started nipping her ear for some reason. She had sensed the little critter needed help, but after some carefull delving with the One Power she couldn't find anything wrong with it. The Yellows would probably have gone all in shock had they known she knew the weave, let alone used it, but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt her. She couldn't very well leave that poor thing feeling all sick and stuff when she had the knowledge to do something about it.


"It's time to clean up and go to bed, Carina", a voice spoke to her from behind the bookcase that stood behind her. Scowling at the bookcase, Carina didn't respond but immediately started closing the books and replacing them on the trolley. One of the novices would put them back in their proper place in the morning. Her muscles protesting from being forced to work after being stationary for so long, she stretched and then straightened down her dress and schooled her face. She knew better than to let the Sister notice her being upset over being told to go to bed. The look she received as she emerged from behind the bookcase gave nothing away from the Sister's mind and she couldn't help but wonder if she managed to get hers even remotely as even as half that. Curtseying properly she left and made her way to her room. Halfway up the stairs her stomach rumbled loudly and she realised with a shock that she hadn't eaten all day except for breakfast. 'Maybe I can sneak into the kitchen and snatch up something to take to my room' she thought and turned and stopped dead.


A few steps below her, on the landing between the stairs, stood seven Aes Sedai, each wearing their shawl, one from each Ajah. The Mistress of Novices stood looking up at her, her shawl clearly visible and spoke, “Carina al'Tara, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai, the light keep you whole and see you safe.” Just like three years ago Carina felt a surge of panick rushing through her. She wasn't ready! 'Oh Light! Why now?' she thought frantically. Working to keep her face serene and her posture calm she decended the few steps and followed the Sisters without a word, as protocol prescribed. They made their way down the stairs, through empty hallways and down to the basement where Carina felt again the weight of the ages press down on her shoulders. 'Light, give me strength and make me worthy' she prayed. As they approached the doors of the testing chamber, the Mistress of Novices channeled Air and they opened without a sound. The Aes Sedai filed in the room, taking their positions along the wall, facing the Ter'Angreal in the middle that was the testing ground for each Accepted to gain the shawl and title of the Aes Sedai. Carina entered the room and stood waiting for the ceremony to begin.

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Claire sat cross-legged on the floor of her study above the Tower Library, poring over the ter'angreal she had brought back with her from her most recent trip.  The ter'angreal, like the girls with the spark she had also found, were treasures the Tower would hold tightly to.  She had only been back a couple of weeks, and the Brown had still not found time to really study these artifacts of an earlier time.  Every time she would settle down to work, something would interrupt her and draw her away.  Almost as if her thoughts brought it, somebody knocked at her door.  Claire was not surprised, after all, that had been her luck recently.


She got up and pulled the door open, harsh words ready if it was a Novice who had interrupted her.  They died in her mouth though, as the Head of her Ajah stood in the corridor.  Raeyn raised an eyebrow at her and smirked slightly.  Claire gave a nod and slight dip of the knees, befitting a sister to her Ajah's head.  She inquired, "What can I do for you, Raeyn?"


The Head wasn't one to bandy words, and true to form, she didn't here.  "Carina is to be summoned shortly for her testing.  You might not know, since you've been off...adventuring..recently, but we have high hopes she will choose the Brown should she past her testing.  You are to go to her testing now and observe for us."


Claire hesitated, wanting to ask a question, but the look on Raeyn's face brooked no nonsense.  Instead she simply nodded and strode off in the direction of the main Tower, closing the door to behind her.


She walked steadily for a quarter of an hour after entering the Tower, descending further and further into the bowels of the great structure.  She reached the door to the testing room the same time as the Mistress of Novices was departing to summon Carina.  Claire turned to the room, but the Mistress caught her arm.  "Claire, I have something urgent I must do as soon as Carina is safely out of her testing.  Should she succeed, will you please escort her back to her room and explain the Night of Contemplation to her?"


Though she was surprised, Claire assured the Mistress of Novices she would do so, then entered the chamber, where other Aes Sedai from each Ajah were waiting, arrayed around the oval ter'angreal in the middle of the room.  Claire picked a spot along the wall and settled in to wait for the Accepted to arrive.




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She stood in a large domed room, globes of light all around the walls and in the center of it the Ring Ter'Angreal through which she would pass to start her testing. Sisters from every Ajah stood, each wearing their shawl, in a circle around the room. It was all she could do to keep her face serene and her posture calm while the Mistress of Novices stepped forward and started the canon to initiate the testing.


"Attend", she intoned and the Sisters moved to join them.


“You come in ignorance Carina al'Tara, how would you depart?”

Carina felt her mouth twitch and a blush rose on her cheeks. 'Light,' she prayed, 'Let me be worthy.' As if the Light had answered her voice was steady and rang clear throughout the room.

“In Knowledge of Myself.”

“For what reason have you been summoned here?”

“To be tried”

“For what reason should you be tried?”

“So that I may learn whether I am worthy.”

“For what would you be found worthy?”

She couldn't keep the flutters in her stomach down. It was really happening. Tomorrow she would be Aes Sedai. The alternative never got hold of her as she pushed it down before it even began to rise. Determination entered her voice.

“To wear the shawl.”


At the nod from the Mistress of Novices the sisters turned and resumed their place around the room, facing the Ring. Carina stripped down to her flesh, as was mandatory for the test. She managed to do so calmly though she couldn't stop a feeling of embarrassement to color her cheeks. It was not so bad as when she was tested for Acceptance, but she would never get used to being naked around other people. Even women.


Silently she was led to the Ring, there was no need for words. Every Accepted knew the ceremony, the canon and the procedure by heart by the time she was in her third week of acceptence. It was the first thing they learned after being raised to the ring. Gathering her courage, Carina took one deep breath and stepped through the center of the Ring that was now blazing with a blinding light.


She was flogged, thrown in a Trolloc's cookpot, on the verge of being mollested by a mob of drunken Whitecloacks. She found the star in the middle of the Blight or in the center of a bush of flesh tearing brambles. A hundred weaves she had to do, while naked, tied up, upside down, dripping with her own blood, while being peed on, with spiders crawling all over her and snakes coiling around her. A hundred times and each one worse than the one before. Weaving the threads just so, moving at a steady pace, neither running nore keeping back, never wavering and through it all maintaining a level of utter serenity. By the time she reached the sixty second star she was sure she would fail, for there was no way her serenity could last in this. On and on it went, untill finally she reached the last one. Her body a mess of blood and torn flesh, her left leg refusing to work so she walked while dragging the dead leg behind her. The point of wanting to give up long forgotten, the reason to continue no longer mattered. All that was in her mind was to get to the next star. Just one more. Each time it was just one more. Beyond that one more star the world did not exist. She weaved as soon as her foot touched the star, while firewhips slashed her from all sides and fire errupted in a circle around her. Laying the thread of Spirit exactly so, the last weave was finished. The fires died, the whips vanished and vaguely she became aware of a bright lighted doorway just ahead. No more stars to reach. The door was all her world now. She limped to it, neither rushing nore holding back, for she did no longer care about her safety. It was a moot point, for there would be worse still. There was always worse the next time. This would be no different. She reached the door and didn't stop or pauze but stepped through it immediately. She stepped through and fell to the ground, exhausted, drained, empty. Maybe there will be no worse in death, her mind hoped.


She lay there, unable to move, not caring either way. Though her body showed no sign of injury, it remembered nonetheless. There would be no worse in death.



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It had begun the moment the Mistress of Novices and Carina had finished the exchange of words that began the ceremony.  Claire took her place beside the Mistress of Novices as the Accepted began to disrobe.  The Brown watched her intently, as did the other Aes Sedai present, for any crack in the calm facade she wore on her face.


The Mistress of Novices continued with the ritual as Carina was undressing.  “Therefore I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” She channeled and used her finger to draw a six pointed star in the air in front of Carina.


Claire embraced the Source and channeled Spirit into a weave of medium complexity, touching it lightly to the back of Carina's head.  "Remember what must be remembered," she said softly.  The Brown maintained the weave as the instructions proceeded.


“When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power. The weaving required must begin immediately, and you may not leave that sign until it is completed.”


Again, Claire spoke the required phrase, "Remember what must be remembered."


“When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation.”


"Remember what must be remembered," she said.


“One hundred times will you weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.”


Claire completed the ritual with one last repetition, "Remember what must be remembered."  She then let the completed weave she was holding sink into Carina, hopefully providing her with the knowledge she would need to make it through her testing successfully.  


The Brown joined the other Aes Sedai in a circle around the great oval ter'angreal, and as one they knelt and began to weave.  It was a complex weave, a tangle of all five powers that sent the color-shifting oval into a flashing kaleidoscope of color.  At the height of the weave, the opening inside the ter'angreal became a solid sheet of opaque white, and the entire oval began to revolve slowly on it's base.  Claire could not spare much concentration to watching Carina as she walked steadily towards it and entered it as it turned.




100 times did the Accepted weave, without hesitation or hurry.  She stood up marvelously to the trials laid before her, and did not break composure during the torture of body and mind she experienced.  100 times did she weave, and then as her foot crossed the threshold under the last six-pointed star, she was there in the room again before them, collapsing to the stone floor.  As the sisters let the weave dissipate, the ter'angreal slowly spun to a stop, it's flashing colors slowing with it.  


Carina gained her feet as the Mistress of Novices took a step forward, clapping her hands together sharply.  “It is done. Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.” She clapped her hands again. “Carina al'Tara, you will spend tonight in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on the morrow, when you don the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.”


She clapped her hands one last time, then turned on her heel and strode immediately through the heavy doors and out of sight.  Claire spied a moment of confusion cross the Accepted's ...no..she is no longer that...but not yet Aes Sedai, either... the woman's face.  Then it was washed away in a weak smile as Claire and the other Aes Sedai enclosed her in a protective circle, offering her Healing, sympathies, and her clothing.


Once Carina was dressed, Claire escorted her back above ground and to her chambers in the Accepted gallery, where she would spend her last night before taking the Oaths.  The woman was very quiet during the walk, and Claire thought this boded well.  She had seen women make it through the test to then show excitement bordering on giddiness once it was done.  Most of them were Blues.  This child was obviously taking the idea of contemplation seriously, and once Claire had deposited her at her room (and made sure a tray of hot food was waiting for her), she went at once to report on the testing to her Ajah Head.  


Hopefully tomorrow would bring another sister into the fold of the Brown Ajah.



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She felt strength seep back into her body and knew she could stand. Getting to her feet, though, was almost as hard as that last weave had been but she managed it.


“It is done. Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.” The voice of the Mistress of Novices rang through the room and Carina's mind slowely picked up on the meaning of those words. They acted as a source of energy, flowing into her from the woman standing in front of her and her back came up, making her stand a little taller.


“Carina al'Tara, you will spend tonight in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on the morrow, when you don the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.” Again the woman spoke and again energy poored into the young woman and her head came up this time, giving her the look of one proud and able, though she did not know it.


The Mistress of Novices clapped her hands a third time and immediately turned and walked away. Carina frowned at this, for she knew there was more to come and it was assumed, and rightfully so, that it would be the Mistress of Novices that took them to their room to contemplate the night. She became aware of the Sisters in the room encircling her, offering congratulations, sympathy and Healing. Unable to hide a small smile on her face, Carina accepted each offering and was especially gratefull for the Healing, even if it made her stomach wanting to pound it's way out of her body. One of the Sisters handed her her cloths and as she finished dressing, only one Sister remained in the room. A Brown, she noticed with satisfaction. The Ajah of her choice, the one she would join on the morrow after taking the Oaths and donning the Shawl. It hit her then. 'I'll be Aes Sedai tomorrow,' she thought in shock. Claire Sedai led her to her rooms in the Accepted's quarter and Carina was gratefull that the Sister did not feel the need to speak. Her head was spinning at the realisation of what had happened, of the enormity of this new step she had taken today. No longer Accepted, but a Sister come morning. She knew she would spend the night in contemplation. Seriously, who could possibly sleep on a night like this!?


They entered her room and the smells of food welcomed her from the plate on the small desk. She smiled at Claire Sedai and offered the Sister a curtsey, after all she was not Aes Sedai yet, and then she was alone. Seating herself at the desk, she lifted the top from the food tray and instantly started to drool at the sight and smellls that wafted up from the tray. In short order she had finished the tray, every last morcel of it, though her stomach still demanded more. She would not have believed it if she didn't know the effects Healing had to the body. Nyneave Sedai had been rather gleefull in teaching that lesson. Making each of them cut themselves and then applying Healing on them that left them all hungry like a horse. The Yellow Sister had a rather peculiar sense of humor, though not all saw it as very funny. Carina had, though not untill her hunger level was back to normal. She could easily picture Nyneave as one of the pranksters in her Novice or Accepted's days.


Her head came up. Shocked at herself. But then she nodded, slowely, as she came to understand. No longer did she need to apply the honorifix Sedai. She could address any Sister with their name only. Any, that is, except Mother of course. The Amyrlin Seat remained Mother at all times, as was only proper for the woman that ruled the Aes Sedai. Her eyes widened and a chuckle found it's way through her mouth as she also suddnely realised that, come tomorrow, she would be addressed as Carina Sedai by the novices and accepteds from now on. How odd that will be, she thought. "Carina Sedai", she whispered, tasting the sound of it and instantly feeling like an imposter. "I am a Servant of All now". A Servant. It was still somewhat of a paradox to her that women that went about the world with such authority and demand would be called servants. But that was the name of old, that was the meaning of Aes Sedai. They served all, with the White Tower at the lead of it all, of course.


Once again, as she had done so many times in the years past, Carina found herself hoping that her allegiance would not compromise her service to the Tower. For she had never been able to put the Tower before the Light. She served the Light, first and foremost and the Tower second only to that. It has to be that way for her. It must be enough. Surely the two were the same, really. Though a doubting insisting voice kept nagging her at the back of her head. That it was unrealistic to assume the entire population of the Tower were as dedicated to the Light as she was. Becoming Aes Sedai didn't stop a woman from being human, after all. And she knew all too well the various pitfalls humans could fall in to. Or how power could corrupt even the mightiest. She sat up with a start at the route her mind had taken her. Surely the Tower would find and eliminate any such weakness if it ever occurred. Of course it would! The White Tower did not take kindly to any weakness. It's whole system of training was built to weed out even the smallest sign of it. Both in it's initiates and it's Guards. And yet, that nagging voice just wouldn't stop nagging.


A knock on the door brought her out of her dark thoughts. "Come in" She said, watching one of the kitchen servants push open the door and carry in a second tray of food. Silently replacing the one on the desk and leaving without a word. Carina's stomach jumped up at the prospect. Taking a slice of juicy meat and dipping it in the mustard sauce, Carina went back to her pondering. She forced her mind on happier things, silenced the nagging voice and shut it behind a closed door.


"Now I can start researching this ability of mine in earnest" she said to the piece of still warm breadin her hand. The Sisters had examined her and her ability, and they were determined it had nothing to do with the One Power. It wasn't something any of them had ever heard of before, and none of the Browns knew of any record that spoke of it. She stopped her hand, holding a spoon full of peas, halfway to her mouth as a thought occurred to her. "Light! I hope the Browns won't lock me up to study me for years to come! They just might." She knew she would go Brown herself, had known it for quite some time now, but the thought of being a study object didn't really appeal to her. Unless she herself was doing the study, of course. 'I'll just have to find a way to get away before they think of it' She thought, munching on the apple pie piece in her mouth.


Several hours past by unnoticed as Carina contemplated on the duties of being Aes Sedai as well as on the freedom she would gain, the travels she could do and the places she would get to know. Her reason for the Brown was not because she had that typical Brown trait of wanting knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. But because, for her, knowledge was the key to everything. Without it nothing could be done, nothing made sense. Knowledge was the tool and mastering the tool was the only way to succeed in whatever undertaking one pursued. She had briefly considered the Blue Ajah, but her mind shifted too much from one thing to the other without any one cause taking all of her thoughts. The Sisters of the Blue had already remarked on her undecisive nature, which was not really true, but they saw it as such. Because she could not fully give herself to one cause. They had been sad at the realisation too. Especially since they figured out she was the daughter of one of their own, before she had been burned out that is.


Her birth parents. Carina jumped up from her seat, dropping the last morcel of bread to the floor and slapped her face. "How could I have forgotten about that??!" She exclaimed. "I can set out and finally find out who they were! Let's see if those Malkieri will tell me to be quiet about it now!" Guilt instantly beat at her for thinking so ungratefull of the family that had educated her in so much. Still, she had a right to answers and she would have them.


Three firm knocks on the door startled her and, half expecting to see another kitchen servant she bade whoever was at the other side to enter. The door opened and she stared into the serene face of Claire, her brown fringe draped over her shoulders. The Sister smiled at her and stepped back out again, closing the door behind her. Seven Sisters, one from each Ajah, would be standing outside, waiting to escort her to her Oath ceremony. A quick glance at the small window showed the orange glow of the sunrise and Carina was shocked the night had passed so quickly. She did not feel tired or even weary at all.


She went to the cracked mirror, fixed her hair, splashed some water over her face and quickly changed into the dress that had been hung in her small cupboard. It was a nice dress, though woolen made. Since she had been wearing breeches and a boy's shirt when she arrived at the Tower, the Mistress of Novices must have had this dress made for her for this occasion. Or maybe the Tower had a stock of these handy, just in case. She smoothed the lines of the creme shirt of the dress and made sure the bodice was placed just right. It fit her like a glove, this dress. One last look in the mirror, making sure her face and posture were serene and calm and she was out the door.


Stepping in between the circle of Sisters, she waited for them to lead her to her future.

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Claire stood outside Carina's door, hand raised to knock.  Her meeting last night with the First Chair had gone rather well, considering the slightly awkward situation Claire was in at the moment.  Raeyn thankfully hadn't taken her to task...yet, and they had instead passed the time discussing this promising young woman who would hopefully join their ranks today.  As Claire had walked with the other sisters to the Accepted gallery, she thought she spied not a few jealous glances in her direction.  Now she allowed herself a little smile with her back to the rest of the sisters.


Not today, ladies...this one is all ours.


She rapped sharply on the door three times, and swung it open when she heard Carina say "Come!" from the other side.  The woman looked out at her with faint surprise.  She didn't appear to be weary from her all-night vigil.


And how can I blame her?  I was excited as a farm girl on fair-day the morning I was raised.


Claire smiled at Carina and stepped back out into the hallway, gently closing the door behind her.  She waited patiently with the other Aes Sedai until Carina came out several minutes later, dressed and freshened.  The sisters circled Carina and the octet began the long procession into the bowels of the Tower, to the testing chamber where Carina had proven her worth the day before.


The group reached the chamber; the heavy wooden doors stood open and there was light from the standlamps pouring into the hall.  The escort formed a line behind Carina as they entered the room.  Once they were all in place, the Amyrlin spoke, her voice ringing in the acoustics of the chamber.


"Who comes here?" she asked.


And now it begins...a lifelong career ahead of her and it starts today.  Claire smiled to herself and waited for the rest of the ceremony to unfold.



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They walked through the halls in silent dignity, Carina unwittingly picking up the glide of the Sisters escorting her. Accepteds and Novices alike bobbed curtsies, pressing themselves against the walls of the corridors as the circle of Sisters moved passed, never glancing at the girls. To the initiates, Carina looked every bit as stately and regal as the Sisters, awe painted on their faces, yet the woman herself was not aware of it. Or anything much at all, for that matter. Her mind raced, while her face remained serene. 'This is it' She thought. Her stomach suddenly surged, as if to leap out of her throat. Light! She couldn't sick up now! Not now, please! She fought down the flutters and wild attacks of panick as they decended into the depths of the Tower, back to the very chamber she had been tested only a few hours before. Their footfalls making only the faintest sound as the slippers brushed lightly against the floor tiles and then she saw it. The door towards the room in which she would bond her life to the Tower for the rest of her life.


It stood open, the Amyrlin Seat stood with the Keeper of the Chronicles behind the now silent Ter'Angreal through which she had stepped the day before. Her escort fell in behind her, forming a single line and Carina stopped just inside the room. Around the room Sisters stood, each wearing her Shawl. Seven Sisters from Seven Ajahs and one for each more stood in front of the other, holding an extra shawl. Their faces serene, their expressions unreadable.


"Who comes here" the voice of the Amyrlin rang over the room and washed over Carina. She suppressed a shudder. She would not shame herself now.


“Carina al'Tara.”

“For what reason do you come.”

“To swear the three oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.”

“By what right do you claim this burden?”

“By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the White Tower.”

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


She stepped through the middle of the Ter'Angreal, slightly crinching inside, half expecting to find herself in yet another testing, but instead found herself facing the Amyrlin at the other side. Kneeling smoothly before the Mother, Carina took the Oath Rod the woman handed her and as she opened her mouth, the Amyrlin wove a small thread of Spirit into the end of the Rod.


“Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.”

“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.”


She felt each Oath settle into her skin, like a second skin that was just a little tighter than the previous one. She kept her face serene, however, no matter how she wanted to squirm under the unfamiliar feeling. Considering the Sisters didn't show any inconvenience, it stood to reason this would fade with time. 'Light, I hope it won't be too much time' She allowed herself to think as she waited for the Mother to speak.


"It is half done," The woman declared. "Rise now Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah and all will be done that may be done under the light."


Carina rose stiffly, despite her best efforts of hiding her discomfort and curtsied to the Amyrlin. She turned towards the Sisters lining the wall and her eye spotted Claire. The friendly Brown smiling warmly, inviting her home. She took one step towards the Brown Sisters and the others started filing out the room, silently. The young Brown broke out a huge smile and carefully draped the Brown fringed shawl over Carina's shoulders. "Welcome home, Sister. We have waited long for you!" The woman kissed her on both cheecks and took a step back, making room for Claire.



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Claire watched with a welling sense of pride as Carina passed through the oval ter'angreal and knelt before Mother, taking the Oaths one by one.  She belied no discomfort at the sensation of the Oaths settling upon her, and the Browns exchanged a silent glance of approval with one another.  She would be a strong one, and would bring new life to the Ajah who had not seen a new member in a few years.


She fingered the fringe on her shawl, watching as Carina stood while Mother spoke, "Rise now Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah and all will be done that may be done under the light."


Will her fringe be the same as mine before the hour is out?


There was a heart-stopping moment of indecision as Carina's eyes swept across the assembled sisters.  Claire locked eyes with her though and smiled, and breathed out a small sigh of relief as a tiny smile crossed Carina's face and she began to walk toward the Browns.


The other Ajahs present began to leave one by one, followed by the Keeper and Amyrlin, leaving the Browns alone with Carina.  The youngest sister present draped the Brown shawl across the newly minted Sedai's shoulders and welcomed her.


Claire stepped close to Carina, and leaned forward to kiss her lightly on her cheeks.  "Welcome home, Sister.  We have waited long for you." 


One by one, the assembled sisters kissed Carina and spoke the ancient formula, ending with Raeyn, their Ajah Head.  The Browns then departed the chamber, with a backwards glance or two at Claire and Carina, who were soon left alone in the chamber.


Claire turned to regard Carina.  "It is my task to instruct you in the ways of being Aes Sedai of the Brown.  You have cleared the last hurdle on the journey to becoming Aes Sedai, but now you will find you have almost as much to learn as before you attained the shawl!  Come, let us talk as we walk."


She linked her arm with Carina's and began to walk through the basement hallway, channeling the doors shut behind her.  "So...where should we start?"



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The shawl on her shoulders felt odd. Surely the fabric must be somehow enhanced with the Power somehow? No cloth felt this heavy by itself at this size. It was like a constant weight pushing down on her and yet, as she watched the other Sisters they didn't seem to be bothered by any additional weight at all. 'Of course' she thought, with a start. The weight didn't come from the cloth, it came from the duty the shawl brought with it. Still dazed about the whole event, Carina underwent the welcomes and kisses alternating between wide eyed confusion and stupid grinning and as the last Sisters left the room she shook her head, trying to recall what Claire had told her.


"but now you will find you have almost as much to learn as before you attained the shawl!"


She nodded at that. It made sense that the Sisters would know far more than an Accepted did, even if she was at the point of being raised. And that knowledge could only come through studying and learning. Claire led them out of the room and Carina found herself wondering what else she would be needing to learn from here on. As the Sister, her Sister she realised with a sense of wonder, asked here where to start, she spoke her thoughts out loud.


"I'm not sure, Claire Sedai" She said, not even registering that she had used the honorifix, natural as that came to her now after all these years. "There are probably things I need to be aware of or learn that I can't even imagine. One thing I've always wondered though... " She paused, looking at her companion who gave her an encouraging nod to continue. "Well, Sisters seem to be allowed to leave the Tower any time they please and some stay away for long times before returning. Is this really as it looks or is there some hidden protocol that must be observed for this?" Carina hoped she would be allowed to travel now, she had so missed her outdoor trips and while the gardens and forrest of the Towere were fantastic, it still had felt like being locked in. Just the knowledge she couldn't leave Tar Valon was enough to give that enclosed feeling. Not at all the same as being out there, in the wild, where the only limitation was your own ability to travel and any natural raised obstacles in your way.

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Claire smiled, remembering the wanderlust that has so often gotten her into hot water with her Ajah Head.


"Well, truth be told Carina, you will not be able to go hopping out of the Tower just yet.  I cannot speak more of it at the moment; that is a matter for our Ajah Head to inform you on, or to tell me to inform you about instead.  But I suppose that I can say that until you learn a few things, it will not be SAFE for you to leave the Tower."


They reached the apartments above the Library, where Raeyn kept her quarters.  Before proceeding to the Ajah Head's room, Claire stopped at a doorway adjacent to her own.


"Now, many Browns keep a set of quarters here above the Library, as well as in our section of the Ajah halls in the Tower proper.  The chamber that we chose for you there has already been prepared for your coming.  However if you would also like to have this set of apartments next to my own, I will see it done."


She reached for the handle of the door and it held fast.  She could feel the rust beneath her hand on the handle and sighed in disgust.  Too often it seemed the servants neglected to care for the quarters up here like they did in the rest of the Tower.  Claire embraced saidar and laid her hand against the lock plate of the door.  She sent thin tendrils of Earth, Fire and Spirit into the keyhole, and using her Talent, found where the lock mechanism was bound by oxidation from long years of disuse.  A small change in the makeup of these particles caused the decay to slough off, leaving the metal mechanism clean again.  She tried turning the handle again, and this time, it opened quietly and smoothly.  She smiled with pleasure as she pushed the door open, revealing a sitting room with empty floor-to ceiling bookshelves.  Claire channeled open the drapes and shutters, letting light filter through sparkling dust motes in the stale air.  She turned to Carina.


"So, what do you think?"





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