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Wayward_fool

A Hundred Different Trials (Amadine and Regalia's Testing and Oaths)

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It was a sickle moon that hung in the night sky, disappearing on occasion behind the drifting clouds that threatened rain. It was a quiet night, the grounds of the White Tower seemed subdued in comparison to the recent celebration of Bel Tine. Most of the litter from the celebrations had been cleared up and much of the inhabitants of the White Tower were rejuvenating from a week long party of dancing. A patch of blackened grass was the result of a giant bonfire that had blazed, roasting various game that had been the reason for full stomachs.

 

In the Accepted quarters, the buzzing of daily chores was still going on. For there were never true days of rest for the girls who aspired to be Aes Sedai. Dressed in banded white, Accepted imitated the grace of the Aes Sedai to the best of their abilities, maintaining smooth, serene faces as they went about their-

 

"Ouch."

 

... went about their-

 

"Ouch. Burn you!"

 

... their activities.

 

"Ray-ray, I hardly touched you!"

 

Regalia sighed and released Saidar. Her face was flushed and her hair was wet from sweatiness. She shut her eyes tightly to stop the dizziness that threatened to make her vomit. It wasn't enough though. She clapped her hands over her eyes and rubbed at her temples wearily. "My head hurts. Sorry Amadine. I've dripped sweat all over your carpet. And I'm too tired to embrace Saidar right now." She sat down suddenly. Her shift was stuck to her back and her legs felt like jelly. All in all, it wasn't a good night. But it was important. The hundred weaves they were practicing were totally useless and seemed much more trouble than they were worth, but failing any of them resulted in failure. Something Regalia would never allow for herself. Her hands trembling slightly, she tried to get up, and promptly fell on her bum. "Ouch."

 

"I think you should rest, Ray-ray."

 

Regalia looked at the only other Accepted in the room. Amadine was a pretty girl who had a smile that could light up a room. But tonight, her face was marked with weariness and her hands trembled slightly from exhaustion. Neither had had much opportunity to join the Bel Tine celebrations, opting instead to hole up in their rooms to focus on the Aes Sedai test. A few of their peers had gone for theirs and it terrified both of them that while two of their friends had passed and gained the shawl, others had disappeared into the night without a trace. Whether it was because they had left the White Tower voluntarily or that their tests had somehow gone wrong, noone knew. But understand the failure in what happened made both Accepted terrified.

 

"Let me go and change out of this shift, then we can chat a little before bed. I think both of us had had enough." Regalia glanced at Amadine's side where a bruise had begun to form from her channeling. It hurt Regalia to do it, but they both needed to pass. And her own body was battered with wounds. They would succeed. Regalia would be Blue. And Amadine herself had chosen the Yellow. There would be no other way about it.

 

Pulling herself up with the aid of the bedstead made Regalia wince in pain. Later there would be Healing of each other. And then it would be over for the night. Regalia stepped out of the room quickly and wiped herself off. She longed to take a quick bath, but it was far too late, and she was far too tired. Changing into a fresh nightdress, she stepped back over to Amadine's room and waited as her friend changed as well. She was just glad to have someone to share everything with.

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Amadine stifled a yawn with the back of her hand, she was exhausted. She and Regalia had been practising the Hundred Weaves for what felt like hours. They had been taking turns at weaving the useless weaves while the other distracted her using any means possible. The result was that they were both covered in bruises. As Amadine watched Regalia slumped down onto the bed behind her, "My head hurts. Sorry Amadine. I've dripped sweat all over your carpet. And I'm too tired to embrace Saidar right now."

 

"It's fine Ray-ray, besides - half of that sweat would be mine anyway," Ama replied as Regalia tried to stand, and failed, falling back onto the bed, "and, i think you should rest Ray-ray."

 

The thought of the testing scared Amadine to the bone. Some girls never came back from their summons to be tested and those who did were Aes Sedai to the core, like something had changed in them. The thought of not passing her tests was the more terrifying thing - what really did happen to those who failed? Did they die, were they sent away, did they just not come back - like the Novices lost in the Arches? Amadine was determined that it would NOT consume her - she WOULD pass, she WOULD become an Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah.

 

Regalia's voice pulled Amadine back from her reverie "Let me go and change out of this shift, then we can chat a little before bed. I think both of us had had enough."

 

Amadine nodded and stood, she winced hard at the bruises coming to the surface along her side. Ray-ray stepped out of Ama's room back to her own to change. Grimacing with every step Amadine went to her closet and found a fresh shift, as she pulled it out Ray-ray stepped back into the room so Ama merely turned her back to her friend and pulled her sweat-sodden shift off and pulled her clean one down over her head.

 

She turned back to Regalia and motioned for her friend to sit on the bed. Taking Ray's head in both her hands Amadine embraced Saidar and created the Delving weave to find all of Regalia's hurts, then she Healed them. With an exhausted sigh Amadine dropped to the bed, Healing took as much from the person Healing as it did from the one being Healed. Ray-ray grinned at Ama and kissed the corner of her mouth, then she stood up in front of Amadine and said brightly "Your turn."

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Regalia laughed in delight as the Healing took away all the pain. It still amazed her how miraculous the weave was. She was not as skilled as Amadine, but this would not be a problem. Embracing Saidar, she too channeled the weaves Amadine had and watched as the bruises and cuts disappear as if they had never been there. She smiled brightly. Her hand darted into her pocket and came out with a few packet of cookies that the Cook had given to her as a gift in return for orientating some of the Novices to the kitchen. Healing always took strength from the Healer and the healed, which was slightly annoying. But it was miraculous. And Regalia could not complain.

 

“Alright, Amadine, time for bed.” Regalia released Saidar and sighed. It had been a tiring day. “I’m going back to my room now. Let’s meet for breakfast tomorrow. I’ve got Advance Defensive Weaves with Muirell Sedai and Yellow Ajah Introduction with Camigwen Sedai tomorrow, so I’ll have to rush. But I think I can fit it all in.” Her companion nodded and they hugged briefly.

 

Regalia bounced off the bed and exited the room, her mind already close to dreaming. Which was why she did not notice the woman standing in front of her door as she arrived. She barely had time to note who it was before she curtseyed deep. Valeri Kinaea was a familiar face to most Accepted and more so, Novices. As Mistress of Novices, she seldom had to deal with Accepted directly, thus her presence this evening was a mystery.

 

“Regalia Frantelle, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai, the light keep you whole and see you safe.”

 

Regalia’s jaw dropped at the words. Light, not tonight. Not now. I am not ready. I need time. I need rest. I need sleep, Valeri Sedai… But none of those words escaped her lips. To say that she was not ready would be a failure in itself and Regalia would rather die than suffer that shame. In any case, Accepted were not permitted to speak during this course. And all she could do was walk stiffly behind her. Light, Amadine. I wish you were with me now.

 

With one last wistful look at her door, a door Regalia would probably be bidding farewell to, she turned a corner and left the Accepted Quarters with the Mistress of Novices walking in front of her. Her mind reeling from the shock and churning out thought after thought. But she had to be calm. Serenity. Peace. She could not show emotion. If she could not even maintain calm now, how would she maintain it in the test. She was grateful no other Accepted were roaming the corridors, or she surely would have flown into their arms. Her heart beat raced. And she had to do something.

 

Running the Novice exercises through her mind reduced the panic somewhat. But she had to remember to breathe. And each breath had to be long drawn out.

 

The path they took, Aes Sedai and Accepted, was familiar to Regalia. Steps that led towards the chamber of testing, a place similar to the one she had gone to for her Novice testing. Dark shadows danced across the walls as torches flickered slightly in the night breeze. Regalia 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, Regalia’s mind was such a jumbled mess of thoughts the temperature bothered her not. But she had to 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. It would happen. She would pass. Failure was unacceptable. At any rate she had her mind made up. She would be Blue. She could imagine Serena Sedai’s face. And that calmed her even more.

 

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.

 

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

 

Aes Sedai of different Ajahs turned to look at them. Amongst them stood Serena Sedai, the Blue Sister Regalia had spent many hours studying with. That was a comfort indeed. The others were vague faces. Focussing on the Blue sister helped. She dared not return the warm smile the Aes Sedai gave her when Regalia had caught her eyes. It was a place to be without emotion.

 

“You come in ignorance Regalia Frantelle, how would you depart?” Ancient words intoned by the sister who wore a Gray shawl. Pravina Monsterda. Who had taught her laws of nations. A lesson she hated but nonetheless aced.

 

“In knowledge of myself.” Regalia spoke simply. Her voice did not waver. But she knew this was barely an achievement. She had to maintain composure. She had to.

 

“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?”

 

Regalia took a deep breath. “To wear the shawl.”

 

"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. This was new. Not a aprt of the regular instructions given to Accepted.

 

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." Otun Varghand. A red. Thin lipped and strict, she had made Regalia a regular example of how not to behave in class.

 

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."

 

And then it was time.

 

Regalia felt no pleasure removing her dress. Everything was laid down upon a side table and with regret, she removed her Great Serpent ring as well. She would have it back, she had decided. Failure would not be an option. But it made her feel even more naked than anything else had.

 

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 Regalia squint a little. But it did not soften her resolve.

 

With a steady pace, she walked forward.

 

And the light consumed her.

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Regalia thought she had gone blind. But no. It was just dark. Darkness everywhere. Everywhere!

 

Her mind stayed calm, and she walked forward with peaceful serenity. Not a thread of emotion was allowed. And it bore down on her. She remembered her exercises. To focus just above the heartbeat, to stay floating above her breath.

 

The world rippled around her, and she realized what she thought of as darkness was rustling. Her eyes sought a spot, and she nearly screamed when she realized that she was surrounded by tall walls of dark, glistening insects. That crawled about. Their iridescent wings reflected the light.

 

Light? Regalia’s head whipped towards the direction where the light source was. A six pointed star burned in the darkness. Its flames were subdued by the creatures around her, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless. It drew her to it. But her walk remained calm. She could see it. If only she could just run. But…

 

The night exploded.

 

Bugs flew into her hair, her face, her eyes. And one or two made it into her mouth. But still, she walked at a steady pace. Ignoring the urge to scream and swipe the bugs from her body. Her naked body. Why was she naked? What was this madness? Where was she? She walked on. Until she reached the star, stood in it, and completed the first weave.

 

And darkness returned.

 

Each test began in darkness. Resolving into Shadow Spawn or burly men, naked, leering at her with visible signs of their lust. Others involved being pulled apart slowly, ropes tied to different parts of her body, and her face unable to show signs of pain, her hands weaving the weaves as fast as she could. Often the people would be strangers she had never met. But once or twice they involved her closest.

 

Her seventy first weave was done on the scene of Amadine’s stilling and execution. She had had to turn her back. Turn her back! On the insanity. The pain tore at her heart and she did not know if she could carry on. And she would not have, had she not remembered her oath to her friend. To keep going no matter what. Her heart bled as she wove the weave. But no emotions showed on her face. Her hands steady, she moved on. It was always about moving on. And that sickened her to the stomach. Moving on. As if she did not care.

 

Eighty two weaves later, she stood at the place she used to call home. Her mother and brother stuffed into a cookpot, still alive, screaming and begging for her to help. But the six pointed star was in an opposite direction, and she had to walk. Walk on. Moving like one of those dead things that had chased her in one of the previous weaves. Not that she could remember. Everything was confusion. Vague and distorted. But the pain was real. The hurt was real. The wounds were real.

 

So often she wanted to stop. To breathe. To rest. But that was not allowed. And that confused her as well. What was she doing? Why was she placing these restrictions on herself. It made no sense. But she still moved on.

 

The last ten proved the worst of the lot.

 

Ninety one, steel spikes punctured her lungs and she could only gasp for breath as she wove.

 

Ninety two, her mother, raped before her eyes by a Fade. Her hands spasming but outstretched towards the departing figure of Regalia.

 

Ninety three, a war, and her Warder, killed. The pain was intense. Intense.

 

Ninety four, her three children. Surrounded by Trollocs. And she, a mother, walking away from their wails.

 

Ninety five, her husband, eaten alive by worm things, screaming to the bitter end. His scream echoed even after she had completed the weave.

 

Ninety six, she had thought the Trolloc would not reach her in time. But it did. And as it cupped her breasts with its hands, she wove. Shuddering. But emotionless face all the way.

 

Ninety seven, ice. Everywhere. Bitter cold had turned her feet black from frost bite. And she could only weave the simple weave of Air mutely.

 

Ninety eight, she was falling. Falling and falling and falling and there seemed no end. Except for the platform that appeared next to her with the star. Fire, Water and Spirit. A loud gong sounded and announced weave number…

 

Ninety nine, a whole village on fire. For some reason, the star appeared at the centre of the fire. And she had no choice but to walk stately, her clothes burning right off her skin. But she walked on. This weave, nothing but Spirit.

 

One hundred. She could not remember. It was too horrible. But she could only remember the shower of multicoloured sparks. And the walk to the star.

 

Her emergence confused her. She saw the group of shawled women. But her eyes still sought the next star. The next star. Where was it? She walked mutely towards them. Her eyes questing for the star. But there was none. And then it hit her. It was over.

 

It was over.

 

She barely felt the Healing that rippled through her wrecked body, her mind was a confusion of ecstasy that she had passed, but also the chaos that had been involved. She was helped back to her room. She had stopped by Amadine’s to tell her the news, but the room had been empty. Perhaps that could wait till morning. Vaguely, she wondered what to tell her friend. Or if she would be permitted to. Her mind brought back the horrific scene of Amadine’s execution and stilling. It was not pleasant to leave her friend behind. And Regalia made a resolve to help her friend to the shawl with any means possible.

 

She was helped to change into her shift and left on her bed. And she slept. No dreams came. And for that she was grateful.

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“Alright, Amadine, time for bed. I’m going back to my room now. Let’s meet for breakfast tomorrow. I’ve got Advance Defensive Weaves with Muirell Sedai and Yellow Ajah Introduction with Camigwen Sedai tomorrow, so I’ll have to rush. But I think I can fit it all in.”

 

Amadine smiled at her closest friend and nodded, and then she stood and hugged Regalia and watched as the dark haired girl bounced from the room. A few minutes later Amadine realised that she had forgotten to tell Ray-ray about the change of venue for the Yellow Ajah Introduction class, she opened her door and stepped across to Regalia’s room and pushed the door open, “Ray-ray.” No answer, “Ray-ray?”

 

The room was empty, where had she gone? Shaking her head Ama decided Ray-ray had probably gone down to the kitchens for a cup of tea with the cook, she often did that if she felt unready to sleep. Ama went back to her own room; she mended a hem on one of her Accepted dresses, and darned the hole in her left slipper. Then she began to straighten up the room and prepare for bed.

 

The sharp knock on the door startled her, who would be visiting at this hour? And Regalia never knocked so it wasn’t her... Amadine stood and pulled the door open, her mouth dropped open at the sight of the Mistress of Novices, Valeri Sedai. Ama dropped a deep curtsey and her minded raced with various reasons that the Mistress of Novices would appear at her door, and few of them were good.

 

“Amadine al’Varine, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai, the light keep you whole and see you safe.”

 

Memories of her trip through the Arches in her Accepted’s Testing rose fresh in her mind. Those memories had been supposed to fade, but they never had, Amadine had just learned to accept them.

 

Standing Amadine clamped her jaw shut; she was not to speak until she was bidden to in the Chamber of Testing. Oh Light! Was she ready for this? She had only managed the full one hundred weaved once during all the time spent practicing with Regalia. Valeri Sedai turned on her heel and began gliding away; Amadine hurriedly pulled her door shut and fell in behind her, remembering too late that her feet were bare.

 

The stone of the floors was cool here in the Accepted Quarters but as they wound down circular staircases, deeper and deeper into the bowels of the White Tower they became icily cold. Amadine held her face smooth. Showing no emotions, keeping herself in complete control.

 

Amadine concentrated on the back of the Aes Sedai before her, she wore her shawl, and Amadine ached to have one of her own; with a long yellow fringe. Valeri Sedai slowed before a pair of large gilded doors worked for their full height with symbols, some that Ama knew and others that were unfamiliar to her. Amadine felt Valeri Sedai channel and saw the flows of Air that pushed the doors open smoothly.

 

The interior of the chamber was brightly lit with lamps around the edge of the room, the light bounced off the domed ceiling casting strange shadows about the room.

 

“Attend.” In Valeri Sedai’s strong voice it was a command.

 

An Aes Sedai of each Ajah was present, some Amadine recognised vaguely and just one that she knew well.

 

The Green Sister’s voice rang out in the chamber, “You come in ignorance Amadine al’Varine, how would you depart?”

 

Amadine knew the words to speak. All her days as Accepted, all her lessons, all her hard work had been for this moment, her moment of truth, “In knowledge of myself.”

 

Amadine was surprised and slightly proud that her voice did not waver at all. She kept her face smooth. Her mind was racing, how was she going to tell Regalia? She could not imagine life without her best friend.

 

“For what reasoned have you been summoned here?”

 

“To be tried.” Ama inhaled deeply to clam her racing heart, it was happening, and she felt fear in her lack of knowledge of what was about to happen, but she kept her face smooth.

 

“For what reason should you be tried?”

 

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

 

“For what would you be found worthy?”

 

Amadine lifted her gaze and met that of the Yellow Sister present, Septiana ran the Infirmary of the Mind in the White Tower, a place where Amadine had spent many hours learning herbs under the tutelage of Septiana. The Yellow Sister inclined her head in a minute nod of encouragement, “To wear the shawl.”

 

Valeri Sedai instructed her on what to look for during the test, she demonstrated the flaming sigil of a six-pointed star. Amadine felt something touched the back of her head and heard one of the Aes Sedai, the Grey she thought, say in a whisper, “Remember what must be remembered.”

 

Valeri 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.”

 

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

 

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

 

After each instruction the voice of the Grey Sister whispered, “Remember what must be remembered.”

 

Valeri Sedai instructed Ama to remove her clothing and approach the large oval ter’angreal that stood in the middle of the chamber. She removed every stitch until she was clad only in her skin and stood before the ter’angreal.

 

The glow of Saidar surrounded all the Sisters in the chamber and the ter’angreal began to glow. Taking one last deep breath Amadine stepped forward into the light and embraced her future.

 

 

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Amadine squinted at the bright light, it was blinding but slowly her eyes adjusted and she recoiled inwardly, the floor was writhing with snakes. Keeping a steady pace she walked the five paces to the first six-pointed star and channelled the first weave, in a flash of fire the snakes her gone and bright light flashed in her eyes.

 

She was in the main street of Caemlyn, naked, women shielded their children’s eyes and men laughed but she walked the length of that street burning with shame within but holding her composure on the outside, she channelled the second weave and bright light flashed in her eyes.

 

And so it continued each distraction to her channelling growing greater than the last.

 

Fifteen, the bright flash faded to reveal Amadine standing in a grove of stinging nettles, her skin burned as she reached the star and channelled.

 

Twenty-nine, a pair of trollocs advancing, if she hurried she would reach the star before them, but she could neither hurry nor slow and slow as she reached the star and began the weave one of the trollocs with a goat’s head and hooves thrust a large spear into her thigh.

 

Forty-one, Amadine relived the scene from her Arches when she had left Caedmon to die, he screaming her name, pain rushing through the bond and she walking steadily past him to the star this time instead of running for an arch. Her eyes burned with unshed tears. The shame she felt for abandoning him fanned from a tiny spark left within her soul to a flaming bonfire in an instant. She remained steady; she held her head high and continued all the while her soul was screaming.

 

Seventy-six, her parents in the clutches of some type of bat-like Shadowspawn Amadine had never heard of before, their faces in ecstasy while the thing drained their souls, to the red star Amadine moved and channelled.

 

Eighty-three, the flash revealed thirteen myrddraal advancing on her, the hands stroking her naked flesh, whispering to her the things they would do, fingers grasped her breasts and invaded her body as she reached the star and channelled.

 

Ninety-two, the flash revealed the star below her head, her head? She discovered she was tied upside down and not only was the flaming star below her head she was roasting over a fire, suspended from a tree. Her skin blistered and blackened as she took her time to complete the complex weave and the world flashed.

 

Ninety-nine, a rain of arrows shot from unseen bows fell upon her as she moved the star, piercing her arm, chest, belly and thigh. Holding herself steady she moved to the flaming star and channelled.

 

One hundred, Amadine was bleeding profusely from her wounds, the skin not blackened and raw was itching madly and in this last one she saw her best friend Regalia. Her face twisted in rage and she screamed at Amadine “I HATE YOU! You are nothing! You cannot pass this test where I have failed!” Failed? Light! Was that where Regalia had gone to? Her step faltered for a milli-second before she caught herself *it’s not real Amadine, if you can pass Regalia can pass, she would never accept failure*

 

Amadine moved to the star all the while the image of Ray-ray screaming at her, vowing to tell all her secrets, to never allow her live as Aes Sedai. With pain in her heart almost over-whelming her Amadine reached the star and channelled.

 

She stepped forward and out of the oval ter’angreal. She had done it. She had survived. The deft weaves of Healing washed over her. The pain was replaced with fatigue, her knees buckled and Valeri Sedai held her arm to steady her. She weakly pulled her shift over her head and placed her Great Serpent ring back onto the third finger of her left hand. As Valeri Sedai escorted her back to her room Amadine remembered the last scene, she looked at the Mistress of Novices and found her voice, “Regalia was tested tonight also,” It was a statement, not a question. The old Aes Sedai looked slightly surprised but nodded, “and she also passed.” Again Valeri Sedai nodded and Amadine heaved a sigh of relief. Reaching Amadine’s door Valeri Sedai said to her “You will spend the evening in contemplation; someone will come for you at dawn.”

 

Ama nodded and watched as the Mistress of Novice turned and walked down the corridor and disappeared around the bend. Looking at her door Amadine decided she did not want to be alone, so she stepped across the hallway and opened Regalia’s door. Ray-ray was snoring softly and Amadine quietly closed the door and moved to the edge of the bed. She lifted the blankets and slipped in beside her friend. “Wha-what-who?” came a sleepy voice from Ray.

 

“Shh... Ray, it’s just me” Ama whispered.

 

“Oh... m’kay”

 

Amadine laid there awake for a long time, taking comfort from the warmth of Regalia’s sleeping form beside her, thinking about many things. But foremost in her mind was that she would be Aes Sedai within hours. And as she wondered at that fact she drifted off to sleep.

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Morning came far too quickly. At least to Regalia it did. It was still dark when someone shook her shoulders to wake her up. Wrinkling her nose she sat up and looked into the concerned face of Amadine. And then frowned.

 

"It's still dark." Regalia whined. Too late, she suddenly remembered the previous night's adventure and shook herself. "Amadine, I..."

 

"I passed."

 

"Wait, what? That's what I wanted to say." Regalia rubbed her nose. Something was not right about this conversation."

 

"We passed!" Amadine practically shook with excitement. "We're Aes Sedai! Well, we will be if..."

 

"Wait, but I was the one who got tested... which means... YOU GOT TESTED TOO?? YOU GOT TESTED TOO!!!" Regalia's eyes widened in excitement. Her heart bursting with joy. This was really happening! Really, really happening. She pounced on Amadine and snuggled her to the floor and while both of them were rolling on the floor neither of them bothered with decorum. It was just too eamazing to be true. To be tested together was a miracle in itself. And both passing it on their first try... well... it seemed impossible.

 

"Alright, Ray-ray, they'll be coming for us soon. I got to get back to my room. I wonder how they'll Raise us." Amadine frowned.

 

"WE COULD BE RAISED TOGETHER!!!" Regalia screamed slightly too loudly and calmed herself. Still, this was her last opportunity to do so before the Shawl. And it was still dark anyway. Noone would be wandering around. She had never heard of Accepted being Raised together, but then again, she hardly knew any Aes Sedai well enough to find out how they were Raised. Even the few that had been Accepted and Novice with them had merely smiled serenely and said something cryptic like, “You’ll find out soon.” Or “Do not forget, child, these are all experiences for your learning.” The latter had gotten a mouse in her room as a prank. And Regalia was never caught for that.

 

Amadine shrugged. “I hope so. Never heard of Accepted being Raised together. But we can but hope.” She got off the floor and brushed down her dress. “I’ll see you later. I’m sure.” She winked at Regalia, kissed her lips and left.

 

Regalia was saddened to see Amadine leave the room and close the door behind her. The room felt so much emptier without her best friend around. But it would only be for a while. And she really had no idea what to expect next. But she quickly changed into her Banded dress. And combed her hair. And washed her face. And brushed her teeth. Her heart threatened to burst out of her chest. Her mind whirled with the thoughts of what happened in the ter'angreal the night before, but alot of the memories were already turning vague. She knew the pain would pass, but also knew the trials ahead of her would be just as tough, but more real. And that stopped her short. She took a deep breath. It would not do to act like a child during her Raising. She embraced Saidar and warmed the kettle of water on her night stand and drank some of that. That helped as she took her seat, crosslegged on her bed.

 

Her mind cleared.

 

And it was not long before the knock sounded at her door.

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Amadine awoke before first light and Regalia was still snoring softly beside her. She had not sleep well, dreams of her family, Caedmon - the warder she had never had, and Regalia’s screaming hatred had kept her from restful sleep.

 

Ama rubber her eyes and turned to shake Ray’s shoulder gently. “It's still dark... Amadine, I...”

 

Amadine nodded, knowing that Regalia was trying to tell her she had been tested, when her voice drifted off before she spoke the words Ama spoke first. “I passed.”

 

Regalia frowned at her, confused, “Wait, what? That's what I wanted to say.”

 

Amadine grinned at her and nodded again, “We passed! We're Aes Sedai! Well, we will be if...”

 

“Wait, but I was the one who got tested... which means...” Amadine laughed as it dawned on Regalia, “YOU GOT TESTED TOO?? YOU GOT TESTED TOO!!!”

 

The next thing Amadine knew Ray-ray had launched herself at Ama and knocked her to the ground and hugged her tight. Amadine disentangled her arms and stood, attempting to remain in a semblance of calm, if she got carried away she would never be able to reign Regalia back in.

 

Amadine frowned as a thought occurred to her, they had been tested on the same night, how was that going to work this morning? Would they get raised together? Aloud she said “Alright, Ray-ray, they'll be coming for us soon. I got to get back to my room. I wonder how they'll raise us.”

 

Too late Amadine realised what she had said and she watched as the same thought occurred to Regalia, the dark-haired girl squealed in delight and exclaimed, “WE COULD BE RAISED TOGETHER!!!”

 

Regalia seemed to realise that she was over-excited and made a visible effort to calm herself. Amadine shrugged. “I hope so. I never heard of Accepted being raised together. But we can but hope.” She got off the floor and brushed down her dress. “I’ll see you later. I’m sure.” She winked at Regalia, pecked a kissed on her mouth and went back across the hall to her own room.

 

Amadine poured water from the jug into the washbowl on her nightstand and washed her face and neck. From her closest she withdrew her newest Accepted dress, she held it up and inspected it to make sure it was pristine white and slipped in on over her head. She took up her hairbrush and drew it through her hair until it shone. She tied it back at the nape of her neck with a white ribbon. Just as she did there came three knocks at the door.

 

Amadine inhaled deeply and smoothed her face. She opened the door to see a circle of seven Aes Sedai, one from each Ajah. They were each wearing their shawls and their faces were masks of serenity, showing no emotion what so ever. Entering the circle they moved as one across the hall to Regalia’s door where the Grey Sister raised a hand and knock sharply on the door three times. Regalia entered the circle and Amadine clasped her hand tightly in her own.

 

The circle of nine made their way through the dimly lit halls and corridors of the White Tower, winding their way down stairs, deeper and deeper into the belly of the White Tower in complete silence. The only sound to be heard was that of their slippers brushing the cold stone floor.

 

 

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Regalia's face was a mask of serenity. Cool, calm and smooth, she was Aes Sedai to her finger tips. She had calmed down somewhat since the outburst from the previous night and her breathing was steady. Already, her peripheral vision told her that there were other Accepted about. Many of them friends, some of them new, others just aquaintances. But they all looked at the circle with envy. It was something all Accepted aspired to be. Aes Sedai. They knew that the circle only meant one thing... there were going to be new Aes Sedai before the day was over.

 

All this was lost on Regalia and Amadine, for their soft footsteps lead them downwards once again, towards the lower levels, where their Testing had taken place the night before. Regalia had to stop herself from shuddering from the memories. She felt like trembling in fear, but she held on to her serenity by a thread. A slightly shiver must have escaped, because she felt Amadine's hand tighten in hers in reassurance.

 

The world paused as they approached the doors leading once again to the chamber they had stumbled from the night before. The doors seemed less sinister in the day light, the chamber less intimidating.

 

“Who comes here?”

 

Regalia smiled. They had not addressed either of them.

 

Her reply was clear, “Regalia Frantelle.” Just as she heard Amadine reply, ”Amadine Al’Varine.” Regalia’s breath quickened. They were almost there.

 

“For what reason do you come.”

 

Regalia took a deep breath before she spoke, and was relieved that Amadine spoke in unison with her. This was just not happening. “To swear the three oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.”

 

“By what right do you claim this burden?”

 

Once again, in unison the two Accepted, soon to be Aes Sedai, spoke. “By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the White Tower.” It was as surreal as you could get.

 

“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. Regalia glanced at Amadine, unsure of which of them would go first, as the path only permitted one at a time. She did not want to be Raised before her best friend in the Tower. But Amadine shook her head and would not step forward. Fearing the wrath of the other Aes Sedai, Regalia had no choice but to step forward.

 

It was time.

 

The Amyrlin took the Oath rod from the Keeper and placed it in Regalia’s hands. It was cool to the touch. Far too smooth for what it looked like it was made of. But that was ignored as the thread of Spirit was channeled through it.

 

“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. Regalia looked up as she finished her recitation. Unsure of what would happen next.

 

To her relief the Amyrlin took the Oath Rod from her hand and passed it to Amadine, whom Regalia had not noticed had knelt down beside her. She almost laughed in delight, but her face remained the cool serenity of an Aes Sedai. Her heart filled with love as her best friend began to speak.

 

She had not failed. Not one bit. Neither of them had. And that was good.

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At the door to the chamber of their testing from the night before Amadine and Regalia halted and the voice of the Amyrlin Seat rang out,

 

“Who comes here?”

 

A slight gasp escaped Amadine, the sister had addressed both of them, glancing at Regalia they stated their names in unison, “Amadine al’Varine.” “Regalia Frentelle.”

 

“For what reason do you come.”

 

Amadine heard Ray’s sharp intake of breath and waited her for the exhale before they again spoke together, “To swear the three oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.”

 

“By what right do you claim this burden?”

 

Once again Ama and Ray’s voices combined in the reply taught to all Accepted in preparation of this moment, “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.”

 

In the chamber stood seven groups of Aes Sedai along the circular wall, each group consisted of the three Sitter’s from the Ajah and two younger sisters, each holding a new vine-embroidered shawl. Amadine could see the Amyrlin, she was framed by the oval ter’angreal which was no longer angry, but flashing with the beautiful combinations of the colours of the seven Ajahs.

 

Approaching the oval ter’angreal that had been so horrifying the night before, Amadine slowed slightly so that Regalia was a half-step ahead of her. They could not pass through the oval together, it was not wide enough. Regalia glanced at her, and Amadine knew Ray-ray was telling her to go first, with a slight shake of her head in reply Amadine looked back to the ter’angreal and her heart almost burst with pride – both in her best friend and in herself. All the years of studying were finally coming to fruition.

 

Regalia stepped in front of Amadine and they moved through the ter’angreal. There the Amyrlin Seat and the Keeper waited. Amadine focused her gaze on the seven-striped stole before she sank to her knees on a cushion beside Regalia, the Amyrlin Seat held out the Oath Rod to Regalia and she spoke her Oaths before the Amyrlin then stepped to stand in front of Amadine.

 

She held out the Oath Rod and Amadine grasped it in both hands. It was happening! This was real! She would be Aes Sedai! The Amyrlin Seat channelled a trickle of Spirit into the marks on the end of the Oath Rod and Amadine spoke the words that would bind her forever...

 

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

 

Amadine felt the Oath sink into her soul; she could feel it on her skin.

 

“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.”

 

The second Oath tightened over her, it was burning into her bones, and it felt like it.

 

“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.”

 

As the third Oath took hold of her Amadine gasped it felt so... constricting, tight on her skin.

 

“It is half done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones.” The Amyrlin intoned. She replaced the Oath Rod on the cushion that the Keeper held and continued, “Rise Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah, and all will be done that may be done under the Light.”

 

In perfect harmony Amadine and Regalia rose, they curtsied to the Amyrlin and first Amadine and then Regalia bent to kiss her Great Serpent Ring. Squeezing Ray-ray's hand one last time Amadine released it and turned to face the Sisters of the Yellow Ajah. As she took a step towards them the Sisters from the remaining Ajahs began to melt from the room, except for those from the Blue, where Regalia was approaching.

 

Amadine took the half dozen steps required to reach the Sisters of the Yellow and looking Camigwen Sedai in the eye halted before the small group.

 

 

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Camigwen's face was a mask of serenity as Amadine approached the group. Beside her, Septiana held the Yellow shawl that would soon be drapped over the new Aes Sedai. Regretfully, Camigwen wished that she had spent as much time with Amadine as Septiana had, but between running the Ajah and the recent plague in Caemlyn, the First Weaver had run herself ragged. Still, it would be good to have a new Sister about. In the other corner of the room, Camigwen could see Regalia approach the Blues. That one was born a Blue. While remarkably skilled at Healing, Camigwen felt the girl would do far better in the world, for she did meddle. Alot.

 

"Amadine." Camigwen spoke with a slight inclination of her head.

 

"Camigwen Sedai. I ask for acceptance into the ranks of the Yellow Ajah." Amadine spoke with a slight curtsey.

 

"Is there any reason why we should not allow our sister into our ranks?" Camigwen asked the three other Aes Sedai beside her. It was only formality, but a good formality at any rate. They have never really rejected anyone, but there could always be a first. This one, however, was not to be worried about.

 

"Nay, Camigwen. I am well pleased with Amadine." Rahlain Prudera, a Cairhienin Noble who was an expert at working with the disabled.

 

"As am I." Septiana spoke with a warm smile.

 

"Let us welcome our sister then." Lantana Winder, blonde haired and very beautiful, surprisingly skilled at Delving.

 

"The under the Light, we welcome you. Sister." Camigwen laughed and gave the rather startled Amadine a quick embrace. "You may address us by our name now, Amadine. We are sisters. And your ajah welcomes you home." Camigwen gestured at Septiana, who looped the shawl over Amadine's shoulder.

 

Each of the Yellow sisters embraced Amadine and gave her a kiss on her left cheek, a tradition that was passed down for a long time. There would be others when they got to their Ajah Quarters, but for now...

 

"We will get the porter to move your things in the morning. For now you have to meet the rest of the Ajah. And we will brief you on things you need to know now that you are Aes Sedai." Camigwen led the contingent out of the room, nodding to Regalia and the other Blue sisters as they did the same. "If you have any questions, now would be a good time to ask." Camigwen walked beside Amadine and waited for questions.

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Regalia watched Amadine walk off with a slight lump in her throat. It was hard to imagine they would no longer her staying beside each other or attend class together or cry together or be ine ach other's arms after a bad day. It was also amazing that they were both now Aes Sedai. She wondered if she would get to see Amadine much now that they belonged to two different vocations. She hoped so. It would be good for a Yellow and a Blue to work together somehow. Speaking of Blues... Regalia's eyes turned to the group of Blues that she was walking towards. Her eyes sought Serena Sedai's, whose smile in return was warm and welcoming.

 

She dropped to a curtsey as she approached and spoke the words. "I ask for acceptance into the ranks of the Blue Ajah, if it would please you and the Light." And remained in the position as she waited for response from the Blue Aes Sedai before her. Her sisters. Her family. Her heart.

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