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To take on the weight of the world (Rochel's testing and oaths)

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"You come in ignorance Rochel Dion, how would you depart?”


Rochel struggled to keep her breathing even.  How could this be happening?  Not half an hour ago she had been butting heads with a stubborn group of fool novices, trying to keep them from killing themselves and each other with the power.  The Mistress of Novices had caught her in the hallway, and with little explanation had half dragged Rochel down to this seldom used part of the Tower.  She had less composure right now than she usually did!  And yet, despite her agitation and aprehension, the words flowed out smoothly.  “In knowledge of myself.”


“For what reason have you been summoned here?”


“To be tried.” The words came automatically, flowing without conscious thought.


“For what reason should you be tried?”


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


“For what would you be found worthy?”


She hesitated.  This was the final phrase.  For so many years, she had fought tooth and nail to avoid this.  To not join the ranks of the Aes Sedai.  And here it was.  A long silent moment later, she softly said, “To wear the shawl.”


A brief smile slipped onto the Mistress of Novices face.  No doubt, there had still been some concern on whether or not Rochel would actually go through with the ceremony.  "Therefore I will instruct you. You will see the sign upon the ground."  The glow of Saidar sprang up around the Mistress of Novices, and a six pointed star appeared drawn in Fire.


Behind her, she felt another weave form and touch her head. "Remember what must be remembered."


"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."


Rochel hardly heard the instructions.  She didn't need to.  For years, this procedure had been pounded into her brain until she felt that she could do it in her sleep.  She'd actually heard some Accepted mumbling the phrases in their dreams.  It didn't matter though.  So long as she focused on the task at hand, and didn't stumble on the weaves.


When it was time, she quickly slipped out of her banded Accepted dress.  Her slippers and stockings came after, followed quickly by her shift.  And lastly, her Great Serpent ring topped the pile.  Swallowing the lump which was forming in her throat, Rochel approached the glowing ter'angreal and steeled herself.  Supposedly, this was worse than the test to be raised to Accepted.  That time she had only had to contend with her own fears.  This time, she'd heard it whispered that one had to face whatever the sisters conducting the test could imagine.  A scary thought indeed, especially considering that Rochel had stepped on the toes of more than a few of the sisters surrounding the ter'angreal.


A moment later, she stepped into the glowing ter'angreal, and all thoughts were forgotten in the flash of blinding light.


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Surrounded on all sides by rotting corpses, Rochel fought to keep her composure, and her last meal, as she began to weave.  As the fifteenth weaves neared completeion, the bodies began to move, rising to their feet and shuffling toward her.  She didn't know what they would do if they reached her, but she tried not to imagine it.  The last thread of power fell into place, just as the nearest of the walking dead reached out to touch her.  They all vanished in an instant, and a glowing star appeared in the distance.  Moving forward at a steady, but rather quick pace, Rochel prepared herself for whatever might come next. 


Whatever came next certainly had a large variety.  The twenty-seventh weave was performed while standing naked in a blizzard.  The thirty-fourth while standing in the middle of a rapidly burning room.  The fiftieth found her surrounded by little children who wanted to play with her, only none of the children had eyes.  Child Myrdraal all staring at her with wicked smiles and knives in their hands.  And so it went on.  Each challenge more distracting than the last, pushing the young Domani woman's limits further and further. 


The sixty-first weave seemed simple enough, until she realized that her hair had turned into snakes, all of which began biting her on the neck and shoulders.  The seventy-sixth while standing right in the center of a long hallway, with a trolloc charging at her with a wickedly pointed spear on either side.  The eighty-fourth weave found her standing in a small room that seemed to be shrinking by the second.  When she finally finished that weave she was almost laying flat on the floor to avoid being crushed.  The ninety-third weave was done while standing naked at the top of a stone pillar, in the middle of a field of shadowspawn.  Fades whipping the trollocs to a frenzy, Darkhounds howling in rage, trying to jump up and reach her with their deadly bite and the trollocs with their massive bows and spear sized arrows firing at her.  Each arrow came closer and closer to the mark, several of them grazing her skin.  The last few drew ragged gashes across her body as the wicked barbs flew too close.


Stepping into yet another glowing star, Rochel found herself standing naked in front of a large group of women.  She experienced a moment of panic as she frantically searched her mind for the next weave.  Finally it dawned on her.  It was finished.  She had completed the horrible task.  Suddenly, exhaustion threatened to overwhelm her.  She barely heard the instructions she was given.  A night of meditation and contemplation.  Something about being presented to the ajah's the next morning.  She didn't care.  She needed sleep, and didn't feel like speaking to anyone anyway.


She was vaguely aware of the cold ripple of healing passing over her, removing enough of her exhaustion that she could don her clothing without assistance, then an oddly quiet trip up the Tower to her room.  Not even bothering to remove her banded dress, Rochel collapsed on her bed, asleep before her face hit the pillow.

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Despite her fears of what would come in the morning, Rochel slept well.  The next morning found her refreshed, all traces of the previous night's exhaustion eliminated.  Donning a fresh dress, and quickly running a brush through her bedraggled hair, she thought about what had happened.  How can they stand to do that to someone?  Which one of them had me standing naked in front of a thousand men?  Funny how out of all of the horrible things she had gone through yesterday, that one stood out to her.  That and the dozen Myrdraal children with their slashing knives.  She unconsciously rubbed at her legs where the cuts should have been.  


The morning passed quickly and in relative silence, giving Rochel a good chance to reflect back on her fourteen years at the White Tower.  Her thirtieth name day had passed nearly a month ago, and she was only just about to be treated as an adult.  For the millionth time since she'd been here, Rochel cursed her mother for forcing her into this.  And without missing a beat, her thoughts turned to her family.  It had been a long time since she'd heard anything from them.  She'd been fairly good about sending letters as a novice, though it was rather difficult to say when her merchant parents would ever recieve them.  Ever since she'd been raised to Accepted though, her letter writing had all but ceased, and she rarely if ever recieved any herself.  Come to think of it, it had been at least five years.  The last she'd heard, her youngest brother, Daeric, was about to be married.


A quick knock at the door pulled her from her memories of home.  Jumping to her feet and quickly checking her hair in the mirror, she opened the door.  Her eyes opened wide in surprise when she saw seven Aes Sedai, one from each Ajah, standing outside the door.  Quickly, and with little ceremony, they all but pulled her from the room and hustled back down the Tower toward the room she'd been tested in the night before.  Waiting there for her were the Amyrlin, the Keeper, and more Aes Sedai from all the ajah's.  Some of them looked positively bored.  The ajah's that knew without a doubt that she wouldn't be joining them.  The others had their serene masks on, so that Rochel could only guess at what they might be thinking.  Would any of them welcome her?  Did any of them hope she would approach?


She was not given much more time for thought.  As soon as her escort had placed themselves in order, the Amrylin began the ceremony.


“Who comes here,” the Amyrlin asked in formal tones.


Rochel fought to keep her voice steady.  It came out just barely better than a whisper.  “Rochel Dion.”


“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.”


If you dare ... A part of her still rather wished that she didn't.  But she had come this far, and the only way she saw of escaping the White Tower was as a full Aes Sedai.  Besides, she didn't know what would happen to her if she refused at this point.  She doubted that it would be pleasant by any means.  Stepping forward, Rochel picked up the Oath Rod from the pillow and knelt in front of the Amyrlin.


“Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.”  She fought the urge to twitch as the oath settled on her.  It was an uncomfortable feeling, to say the least.


“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.”  Again, the oath fell upon her, feeling as though someone had pulled her skin tight.


“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.”  This time, Rochel shivered a little as the final oath settled through her skin and into her bones.


With a ghost of a smile, the Amyrlin spoke again.  “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.”


Rochel stood slowly and turned to face the gathered Aes Sedai.  A shawl of each color was presented in a semi circle, arranged in a seemingly random order.  Rochel had spent a great deal of time thinking about this moment, despite all of her misgivings toward Aes Sedai, but had never been able to come down to a solid choice.  It all boiled down to whichever ajah was the most useful in her mind.  For the longest time, she had been torn between the Green, the Red, and the Yellow.  She had shown some promise in healing, but she didn't feel like her life would go that way.  Truthfully, she was more likely to beat someone over the head for a stupid mistake than to heal them from it.  That left the Red and the Green.  She'd never really been able to pick.  And now she desperately needed to make a choice.


As her luck would have it, the Red and the Green sisters were standing right next to each other in the circle.  Her first hesitant step went right between the two.  Her next step wasn't much better.  Her mind was racing, going through the different possibilities in her mind, all the different scenarios that might occur based on the choice before her.  How useful she would be to the world.


After an agonizing second which seemed to last for an eternity, Rochel made her decision, and turned fully toward the Red sisters.  Her Red sisters.


OOC:  Any Red want to jump in and act surprised at her choice?

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Larindhra couldn't help but feel a thrill of pride at watching this girl speak her Oaths to the White Tower. She had been one of the most challenging novices ever to guide to the Shawl. She well remembered the various methods she'd had to employ just to get the girl to pass through the Rings. Not because Rochel did not have the potential - far from it. Rochel had great potential, but she simply did not want to be an Aes Sedai. Where logic had failed, she had eventually succeeded with manipulation, which included punishment for the least infraction, feigned disinterest, veiled hints that Rochel simply didn't have what it takes.


If the girl really didn't have the latter, she would have given up, but it pleased Larindhra no end to discover that she had been right. Even after becoming a Sitter, Larindhra had kept an eye on the girl, though she was reasonably sure the child was headed towards the Greens, as the only "useful" Ajah, as Rochel had once put it to her, apart from the Yellows and Reds. Unfortunately she simply did not have that drive to Heal that drove Yellows. And I rather doubt she'd join any Ajah I'm in, Larindhra thought with a wry smile.


A pity, that. She would find more to do in the Reds, hunting down those poor men, than waiting endlessly for the Last Battle to arrive one day. She watched as Rochel rose and hesitated briefly before seemingly heading towards the Greens. A gasp escaped her as suddenly Rochel veered and headed straight towards her. Towards the Red Ajah. Only years of practice at presenting a serene expression prevented her from openly gloating, but there was a gleam in her eye when the youngest Red draped the red-fringed shawl around Rochel's shoulders. She did smile openly when it was her turn to kiss Rochel on both cheeks.


"Welcome home, Sister."



Larindhra Reyne

Red Sitter

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Rochel waited nervously as the other other Ajah's filed out of the room, followed by the Keeper and finally the Amyrlin.  The only Red sister that Rochel knew, Larindhra Sedai, had gasped as she'd approached the Ajah, and she wasn't entirely certain what that meant.  Was it out of surprise?  Rochel had been an oddity among the Accepted.  It had seemed that all of them knew from the first year or so which Ajah they would strive for, and had spent time with their chosen Ajah, being guided toward it.  Rochel had recieved little to no guidance at all since nobody knew what she wanted.


And so she waited, not knowing what to expect.  When the room finally emptied, the Red sister holding the extra shawl stepped forward and draped it across her shoulders.  And then they all smiled.  Even Larindhra! 


"Welcome home, Sister."


A timid smile crossed her own face as she heard that.  Sister.  It sounded so strange after so long being called Child.


"Thank you," she said with a nervous laugh.  "So what happens now?"

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