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A time to fly... (Camigwen's Test for the Shawl and Eventual Oaths)

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The clouds drifted past the dreamy moon. And it was a dreamy room. Round and high in the sky, bright and yet not glaring enough to make you want to squint. Camigwen’s fingers lingered on the window skill, her eyes was lost. A sort of desperation for the day to be over. She was tired from classes all morning. And her back ached from the 100 weave practices her friends and her had been doing over the past months. In her mind she imagined the test to be far worse and part of her prepared for failure.


“Bardin, my beloved brother, keep me safe this day.” She sighed and closed the curtains. Her room smelt of spices and dried herbs, and a slightly sinister looking skeleton model. A gift from one of the Yellow Sisters who had taken her under her wing. “Bardin, if only you could see me now.”


The knock sounded as Camigwen sat down upon her bed, startling her and making her get up in a hurry. Her silky hair streaked behind her as she walked towards the door, her footsteps muted by the carpet that lay on the floor. Odd how details seemed to scream at her now. Patterns that could not be deciphered, a weave of complex knots, reminding her of the Healing weaves she herself had been schooled in.


“Camigwen Klatsang Marivin, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai, the light keep you whole and see you safe.” Camigwen froze at the words. Gorivin Crasula, the Mistress Novices’ face was serene, none of the usual warmth that greeted Camigwen when she met the Aes Sedai in classes or in the corridors.  She wanted to speak. To say she was not ready. But that would not be. For she had been taught to maintain silence, to move as the escort moved and to believe in herself. Bardin, help me. Be with me, my brother.


With a silent nod, Camigwen turned and shut the door behind her with a click. Her mind was chaos, but she worked her Novice exercises. A bud opening to the sun, and that calmed her down. With hushed footsteps she followed the Mistress of Novices. At this time of the night, there were few Accepted about, but those she passed gave her an encouraging smile. None dared approach her, for that was the rule. But she felt their love anyway, and was comforted.


The path they took, Aes Sedai and Accepted, was familiar to Camigwen. Steps that led towards the chamber of testing, a place similar to the one she had gone to for her Accepted testing. Dark shadows danced across the walls as torches flickered slightly in the night breeze. Camigwen took it as a blessing, that the night was not hot and clammy as it had been the past few nights. The rain during the day had taken away most of the heat. At any rate, Camigwen’s mind was such a jumbled mess of thoughts the temperature bothered her not. But she had to breathe.


Breathe. That helped a little. At least to loosen the knots she felt in her stomach. She relaxed her grip on her banded dress, a dress she prayed would no longer be needed after tonight. Breathe. It would happen. She would pass. And then she would be Aes Sedai. Healing those in need. And providing them succor in their times of pain. She would be Aes Sedai. There had to be no other way.


Her thoughts were interrupted by the sensation of someone channeling nearby. In her shock she realized it was the Mistress of Novices, flows of Air, pushing two large doors open. Darkened by age and gilded, the doors reminded her of the great doors leading to the Hall of the Tower. Strange shapes were carved into them, many she did not recognize. Those that she did, were portrayed in ways she was not familiar with. But that was not to be her focus. Breathe.


“Attend.” Gorivin Sedai’s voice was clear in the echoey interior of the large chamber.


Aes Sedai of different Ajahs turned to look at them. Camigwen recognized many of them, having been through lessons and various channeling exercises with them. A large oval ring occupied the centre of the room and the seven Aes Sedai from each of the seven Ajahs moved to from a ring around it.


“You come in ignorance Camigwen Klatsang Marivin, how would you depart?” Ancient words intoned by the sister who wore a Red shawl. Rosum Thorava Sedai. A lesson in Shielding.


“In knowledge of myself.” Camigwen smiled slightly. Her voice did not waver. But she knew this was barely anything to be proud of. Breathe.


“For what reason have you been summoned here?”


“To be tried.” Camigwen swallowed, moistening a throat that had quickly dried up.


“For what reason should you be tried?”


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


“For what would you be found worthy?”


Camigwen shut her eyes and opened them. This was what her past few decades of life were for. “To wear the shawl.” Breathe.


"Therefore I will instruct you. You will see the sign upon the ground."  Saidar glowed around the Mistress of Novices. A six pointed star appeared drawn in Fire. Camigwen stared at it with worried eyes.


Behind her, she felt someone channel something that touched her head. She did not turn, but recognized the voice that spoke. "Remember what must be remembered." Jindarla Sedai. A Blue. She had taught Daes Dae’mar. And had marveled at how quickly Camigwen had picked it up.  No time for memories. Focus. Breathe.


And so it continued. "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."


"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."


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


"Remember what must be remembered."


It ended as abruptly as it started. And Camigwen took a deep breath. Her face was unreadable as she was led to the starting point of the test. Shutting her eyes, she started her Novice exercises again, her fingers undoing the buttons of her banded dress as she opened herself to the sun. Part of her was tempted to embrace Saidar, but that was not allowed. One by one, her dress, her shift, her stockings, everything was piled onto the table. And finally, she removed the Great Serpent ring. A symbol of all she was living for. Nothing made her feel more naked. But it would only be for a while. Not long. Breathe.


Once again the chamber filled with the glow of the sisters, who had begun channeling something incredibly complex. But their glow was no match for the blinding white light that emanated from the oval ring. Its glare made Camigwen squint a little. But it did not soften her resolve.


It was time.


With a steady pace, she walked forward. Her nakedness forgotten. Her beauty no longer of use to her. Her love for others, only adding to her determination. Her memory of lessons became a distant whisper. She would be Aes Sedai this day.


She stepped through.







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The darkness blinded her momentarily. Black, silent night surrounded her as she shook her head in confusion. Remember what must be remembered. She looked around. Trying to shake off the night blindness. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom and found the star of Fire about six paces to her left. It burned in the still air.


Her pace was steady, not too fast, not too slow. In her mind, she was preparing the first weave. It was a simple weave that did nothing. A weave that-


She stumbled. A briar patch before her, thorns stabbing into her skin. With chagrin, she realized the whole star was surrounded by thorns. Black thorns of a bush she had never seen. There was no choice. Biting her lip, she stood up. Her hands bled from the scratches. Her eyes watered at the pain as she took her first step. It cut deeply into her and by the time she reached the star, tears were openly streaming down her face. But her face was calm. Emotionless. With a quick embrace of Saidar, she wove the useless weave. And turned-


To face another six pointed star in the distance. But first, she had to walk through the briar patch again.


With her pain hidden behind a silent mask of serenity, she reopened the wounds as she stepped through. She would be Aes Sedai this night. She would be. Breathe.


And so it went. Weave after weave. Star after star. Test after test. Many a time she felt like she could not go on. Not all the tests were of pain. A few times, she had to walk in front of leering men, wearing nothing, her face burning in shame. And yet she could not run. Nor rush. Nor look with anything but dignity.


Shadowspawn. More thorns. A direct cut to her arm, that mysterious vanished when she completed the weave. Hot, hot sand that she had to trek across bare feet. A blinding headache so bad she could no longer control her bladder, and dark urine had flowed down her leg. But still she continued. A steady pace. Walking across a courtyard, a Fade whipping her back till it dripped blood. Each test, she reminded herself to breathe. But more often than not, all she could do was suck in breaths that made her lungs feel like exploding.


The final few were the worst.


Ninety four. A patch of ivy. It made her itch. And caused her limbs and face to swell so her eyes were almost completely blind. Once again, disappearing upon completion of the weave.


Ninety five. Darkness. She felt things crawling on her. Nearing the five pointed star made her realize in shock that she was covered in bugs. But still. She swatted none off as she wove the weave.


Ninety six. Worms. Bugs. Caterpillars. Fat, fat maggots. Her jaw spasmed in disgust as she felt the creatures crunching and squishing under her feet.


Ninety seven. A darkhound running at her from the distance. But she maintained the pace. It reached her just as she stepped into the star and bit a chunk off her thigh as she completed her weave.


Ninety eight. Cold. Snow. Walking in the nude. Teeth chattering so hard they felt like they could shatter.


Ninety nine. Glass littered floor. Her footsteps were blood trails all the way to the five pointed star. The fact that it was an Inn she had grown up in, did nothing to lessen the pain.


One hundred. Snakes bit her. And she could immediately feel the flesh necrosing and turning black within seconds. Her final weave burned in the air. But she felt no joy. No pride.It should have meant something. One hundred weaves, completed. There should have been a toast, cheering, celebration and much rejoicing. But there was not. Nothing but pain. Only pain. There was too much pain. Too much pain.


The air filled with a popping sound and a shower of light. And the snakes disappeared.


She was done.


Tired, in pain, and shuddering uncontrollably, Camigwen limped towards the final exit. A scattering of stars led the way, but their beauty was lost on Camigwen, whose eyes stung with blood and sweat. She was now breathing in shallow gasps, her lungs unable to keep up. But she could not cry. Not show any emotion. It would have caused her failure. And that was not acceptable. Not at this point. To show pain was the fail. It was ridiculous. But it had to be done.


Half blinded, slightly delirious and aching all over, the not-quite-Accepted-but-not-yet-Aes-Sedai stepped through. Her test was over. She felt as if her life had ended too.


As the light consumed her, she could only think of her brother. Whom she loved with all her life. Who was no longer alive. Who had meant the world to her. Whom she missed with all her heart and soul. Whom she would meet finally in death.


Bardin, wait for me.






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Dawn came without warning, a sudden wash of orange across the gray sky. The disquieted birds chirped their morning-song in the lightening gardens, and a soft breeze bent the nearby grasses to their will. Very soon, the breakfast bell would sound. And the mad rush to the Dining halls would empty the rooms of their occupants. Already the soft bustling of quickened footsteps could be heard, accompanied by the swishing of banded dresses.


But all this was lost on the lone occupant of the room. Her eyes were closed, her breathing steady. But her poise was graceful as she sat straight-backed on the single bed within the chambers. Very soon the soft light of morning would reach her face, illuminating its beauty. A breath taking beauty that had long since been taken for granted. For this day would be a day of days for Camigwen.


Her memories of the night before were vague. Exhausted from her testing, and from the effects of Healing, she had barely recalled stumbling through the Accepted Quarters clad in nothing and the inviting smell of food that had been served to her room. And the final acceptance of having passed the test, mixing with the welcoming embrace of exhaustion.


But she had not slept.


Instead, she had chosen to spend the night in contemplation. Meditating as a Novice does, the flower, finally able to bloom in the energies of the sun. The thoughts had threatened to overwhelm her, but she willed them into a silent buzz at the back of her mind, moving them one by one through her mind at a steady pace. Each one chronicled and catalogued like how the Browns did with their tomes. It was an exercise that one of the White sisters had taught. But it helped Camigwen calm down.


She heard the knocking as the final thoughts settled down. Her face was quietly serene as she opened her eyes and rose to her feet. Her beauty was beyond breathtaking now. But there was none to admire it as she smoothed down her dress and moved to open the door.


She bobbed a quick curtsey to the seven Sisters, one from each Ajah, who had formed a ring before her door. She was well aware that soon she would no longer have to curtsey to any of them, but the action helped her remain grounded and that felt good. Silently, they made a space for her in their midst and she moved into the centre to join them.


Their destination was once again the chamber she had evacuated the night before. The doors seemed less sinister in the day light, the chamber less intimidating.


“Who comes here?”


Camigwen smiled. The person who had spoken, the Amyrlin, was a familiar face to her. Camigwen remembered her as much for her wisdom as much as her dry humour that had emerged during private audiences with the Leader of the White Tower.


Her reply was clear, “Camigwen Katsang Marivin.”


“For what reason do you come.”


Camigwen almost laughed in sheer joy. It was almost done. Not quite, but almost. “To swear the three oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.”


“By what right do you claim this burden?”


Camigwen smiled again. “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.”


The giant oval ter’angreal that had been the cause of so much pain the night before looked practically tame in the morning light, as the Amyrlin Seat glided to stand behind it. Beside her the Keeper held a velvet pillow. But Camigwen’s eyes were fixed on the smooth, age darkened rod that sat on it. The Oath Rod. It was the reason why she was here. Her reason.


Camigwen took a deep breath to calm the butterflies in her stomach. With the grace of a swan, she stepped forward and knelt in front of the Amyrlin. It was time.


A thin flow of Spirit was all it took as she held the Oath Rod in her hands and recited the oaths by rote.


“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.”


A slight tightening of her skin marked the effects of the Oaths as they settled onto her. It was odd. Similar to having a second layer of skin, almost too tightly pressed onto her. It was disconcerting, but it did not hurt.


“It is half done, and the White Tower graven on your bones. Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah and all will be done that may be done under the Light.”


It was almost done. Almost. But not quite. Camigwen could wept in nervousness.


Behind her stood sisters from every Ajah. Blue, Red, Green, White, Gray, Brown shawls looped over arms that seemed to be still as the air in the room. But Camigwen only had eyes for one group. Parchala Nongstang, Binde Vesla, Eqwina al’Caupthn and Veirin Burdom. Four Yellow sisters who met her eyes with smiles. Welcoming smiles.  Familiar smiles.


The other sisters moved off once Camigwen began her walk towards the Yellows.


"I wish to ask for acceptance into the ranks of the Yellow Ajah." Camigwen spoke, her voice betraying none of the nervousness she felt. Butterflies, the size of rocks threatened to make her throw up. Not rocks, mountains.


They looked at each other for a second seemingly amused and then turned back to Camigwen once more. Veirin Burdom gave her another smile and spoke, "Is there any reason why this Child should not join our ranks?"


Binde Vesla gave a smile as well. “Not for all the ter’angreal in the world.”


The other three looked at her with raised brows. This was obviously slightly unexpected and not really part of the rote.


“Oh give in, Veirin. This girl deserves a rest. And I personally would like her resting in the Yellow Quarters by morning breakfast.” Binde picked up a Yellow shawl from a table behind her and gestured towards Camigwen. “Veirin?”


Veirin pursed her lips a little but nodded.  "Very well. Welcome to the Yellow Ajah, Camigwen Klatsang Marivin. We now stand as your Sisters in the Light. May the Creator guide you on your path with love as He does with us all.” And then she broke into a wide grin, “I believe congratulations are in order.”


“Not quite yet, Veirin.” Binde unfolded the Yellow shawl and draped it over Camigwen’s shoulders. Camigwen’s shoulders. The shawl. Yellow. It seemed almost impossible. “Now, she is compelte. Aes Sedai and a Yellow at that.”


“Th… thank you Binde Sedai, I mean, Binde. I mean…” Camigwen stuttered uncertainly. But her smile would not leave her face.


“Indeed, Camigwen, from now on, you may address us by name.” Parchala’s eyes twinkled with mirth as she spoke. She was the most beautiful amongst the four of them. Except for Camigwen herself. But she seemed to differ to Binde anyway. All of them did. Which Camigwen felt odd at that.


But it was done. Done.


“Thank you, Parchala.” Camigwen said simply, lighting up the room with her smile. “Thank you.”


((OOC: Thanks for reading. *grins*))



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