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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Leala Sedai

To the Blight and Back (Ay'Lira's Test and Oaths, Attn: Greens)

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Ay’Lira took her book and snuggled into her bed. It was a complete account move-by-move battles in the Trolloc Wars. And she definitely deserved the time to read it. At least she thought she did. She had written a good thesis about three Amyrlins raised from the Gray. And now, she could enjoy her favorite subject in history…battles. She opened the book to the first page and only read the first two words before her door flung open. She lowered the book and looked up to find Valeri Sedai wearing her shawl. Any questions she had in her mind waited for the Mistress of Novices spoke. “Ay’Lira Sonoran, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe.”

 

So, she wasn’t in trouble. No, it was something much more grave than that. All the work she had done over the past couple of decades or so was about to be put to the test. No, it was something much worse. Closing her book and setting it down, she stood up and following the Aes Sedai out.

 

Much like when she had gone down to the bowels of the Tower for her test to become Accepted, the room where she would take the test for the shawl was far down a spiraling staircase under the Tower. Every step, every second before they reached the room seemed like a year! She soothed herself, reminding herself that Valeri wouldn’t have summoned her if she wasn’t ready. Finally, the Mistress of Novices stopped at a pair of double doors and opened them with a weave of Air.

 

There were so many details about the room that she couldn’t take them all in before it began. But she did notice all the power going into the slowly spinning in the in the middle of the room.

 

“Attend,” Valeri said in a strong voice. Seven sisters, all in their shawls, one from each Ajah, stood around the Mistress of Novices and Ay’Lira.

 

“You come in ignorance, Ay’Lira Sonoran. How would you depart?” Valeri asked.

 

“In knowledge of myself,” Ay’Lira answered.

 

“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 should you be found worthy?”

 

“To wear the shawl.”

 

After that, Ay’Lira began to disrobe. As she did, the Mistress of Novices continued. “Therefore, I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” The Aes Sedai channeled and traced a six-pointed star with her finger in the air. Oddly enough, as she demonstrated, a sister began to channel behind Ay’Lira as she continued to disrobe and lightly touched her head with the weave. Strange, that. She didn’t let any surprise show, though. To become an Aes Sedai, she had to trust them whether or not she knew their reasons.

 

“Remember what must be remembered,” the unseen sister said.

 

“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 give and in perfect composure.”

 

“Remember what must be remembered.”

 

Ay’Lira soaked every word as it was spoken to her, even the “remember what must be remembered” part. The weave the sister was weaving settled in, and the seven sisters surrounding the ring. As she continued to undress, she felt all seven of them begin to channel, and channel complex weaves at that. She didn’t show any hesitation or falter at all as she finished, placing her Great Serpent ring on top of her folded clothes.

 

She waited calmly for the signal from the ring ter’angreal. When she saw the air in it gleam completely white, she stepped through…

 

Looking around, Ay’Lira decided she was in an empty manor. She saw no one, heard no one. The unfamiliar surroundings made her want to hide, but she had to keep perfect composure. She had to keep calm. Walking forward, she wondered why she was nude, and where her clothes might have gone. As she moved through the grand parlor, she spotted a simply cut but elegant silk dress, shift, stockings, and slippers. Not hurrying, but not hesitating either, she walk to the table that had the clothes and dressed at a steady pace.

 

Once she was properly covered, she continued to walk, striding down the hallway connected to the only door in this unusual place. As she walked, she began to hear people move around. Even though she was dressed for this place, she felt very unwelcome, very out-of-place. But she kept her discomfort down. It did not show on her face. She couldn’t let it.

 

The population of this once desolate place grew denser and denser. People cropped up out of nowhere now. Where under the Light were they coming from? As she moved down the hall, they began to cover amused smiles while looking at her. They snickered and murmured. She wondered what they found so amusing about her. But she kept her eyes forward, gliding down the hall until she reached a large ballroom. Lords and ladies flitted about, some dancing, some talking, but most still looking curiously at her. She wanted desperately to stop and demand what amused them so. But she kept walking, weaving through dancing, talking, and amused nobility until she saw it.

 

There was a six-pointed star in the middle of the dance floor. Couples swirled and twirled around and atop it. She kept her shoulders straight and her face bare of any emotions as she made her way through the throngs of people. This time, she didn’t weave, she asserted her unusual authority, and people backed away, embarrassed to be seen with a creature as strange as her.

 

As soon as her feet were planted on the star, she embraced Saidar, and as soon as she began to weave the first required weave, the music she hadn’t noticed before changed tune, and all the party-goers began to dance in a uniform motion. When she saw the immediate uniform movement, she immediately split a weave and made a wall of Air around her, making sure the couples wouldn’t knock her off the star.

 

Once the weave was complete, the music died down again, and the people spread out, paying her no mind whatsoever. She left the star and headed toward the new one now hanging over the door leading out…

 

Ay’Lira’s bare foot stepped on something that made a distinctive squish sound. She kept moving, but also looked down to see what she had stepped in. It was mud. But it wasn’t mud that one simply saw after rain. This was mud that was filled with decades of rotten plant fodder. It was green and black, and it stank of the Blight. Her face did not twist, her nose did not twitch. But she did keep a keen eye on the surroundings. The Blight did not accommodate to anyone. She did wish she had some clothes, though.

 

As she thought that, a pair of trousers, a good shirt, and a coat appeared on some unusually clean branches of trees, some good boots hanging along with them. She dressed steadily and headed out again.

 

The trees were black, not with death, but with decay. The plants were the same, but they seemed to have oddly-colored spots on them. Whenever something made a noise, she followed it with her eyes, but usually found nothing. She walked until she found a six-pointed star marked out in twisted sticks left in the mud.

 

Stepping into the star, she embraced Saidar and began to construct the second weave. As soon as she brought out the barest amount of Air, Fire, and Earth, a Myrdraal appeared in front of her. It smiled at her, but before its smile could reach its eyeless gaze, she split the weave of Fire and burned its head off. The thing thrashed on the ground, scrabbling for its sword as she continued to weave her required second weave. The thing was grotesque and demanded her attention, but she ignored it. She added the Spirit and finished the second weave. The gnarled and decayed branches of the black trees formed the same six-pointed star she had just left. She walked under the branches, and…

 

Her home felt so strange without anyone in it. And she felt stranger standing in her kitchen bare of clothing. She didn’t know where her family had gone, or how she had gotten to the kitchen without a stitch of cloths. But she knew she had to find the six-pointed star, weave the third required weave, and keep a completely calm exterior during all of it.

 

Her simple preferred clothes appeared on her kitchen table: good woolen trousers, simple boots, and a good shirt. She dressed herself and walked through her house. The star was not here, and neither was her family. So, she went outside.

 

She headed from her house toward the Seven Towers. Her father might be at work, or her mother. But more importantly, the star would be likely to be there. But as she walked through the streets, she saw it etched out in stones right in front of the main entrance of the Towers. When she reached it, she began to weave Air, Earth, and Spirit. In the corner of her vision, and in one of the arrow slits of the closest Tower, she saw movement.

 

She split the weave of Air and sent a long weave to her target while keeping the complicated weave in its place. The extra weave of Air grabbed the arrow aimed at her and the bow that was about to shoot it and likely others. The bow and arrow dropped harmlessly to the ground, and a curse came out of the arrow slit. The assassin probably wasn’t done, but she kept weaving. Air, Earth, and Spirit began to look like a circle of lace.

 

Ay’Lira was almost finished when the lone assassin came running out of the tower and rushing at her with a sword. She dispatched of the sword in much the same way she had the bow and arrow, but he kept running, now with a brandished knife. This time, she just tied him in ropes of Air and tied off the weave, finishing the required one. She turned around and saw a six-pointed star above an inn. The assassin shouted curses and obscenities at her as she walked away, saying that he had killed her family, had killed her friends, had killed anyone she loved, screaming her name. His voice sounded familiar, but she didn’t turn around. She didn’t want to confirm that this was her innocent little brother. She walked under the star…

Ay’Lira was beginning to feel tired, but she didn’t let her posture or her face show it. She had to be calm, and keep going at a steady pace. Her bare feet hit rocks. Not stepping stones, but large pieces of earth. Looking up, she saw the top of a mountain. But, the tip wasn’t there…was it a volcano? Looking down, she saw nothing but forest. She looked up and saw the six-pointed star up the mountain, not very far away. As she began to climb, she found a simple woolen dress and boots. A dress wasn’t the best thing to climb in, but it was better than her skin. She dressed and headed up again.

 

The vague pathway up the mountain slowly went away during her ascent, and she was forced to climb on all fours, but she still kept her face smooth, and her pace steady. It was hard to keep her breathing steady, but she managed it.

 

When she finally reached the star, she stood on steady feet. She had to keep her feet apart, but she still stood. As she embraced Saidar, the ground moved and the mountain did indeed prove to be a volcano. She began to ready her weave with weaves of Air, Earth, Water, and Spirit. She split the weave of Earth and sent it into the volcano. She raised the earth around her to divert the oncoming lava at a wide angle. She wove the weave, careful to watch the lava, making sure that it didn’t go over the wall. Light, but it was hot! Her breathing became labored, but her face didn’t show the strain.

 

As she expected, the lava did come over the wall of earth, but she sent split weaves of Water and Air at the molten earth until it hardened. Wanting to sigh in relief, she kept it away and finished the weave. When it was done, she looked around and noticed the lava around her was all hardened. There was also a good wide path leading to an opening of a cave with the six-pointed star on it. As she stepped over the hardened lava, she was glad for the boot. It was no longer hot enough to kill, but she could still feel the heat.

 

She stepped off the lava and walked into the cave…

 

Ay’Lira found herself in a small room in the Seven Towers. Next to her was a beautifully cut blue dress, a shift, and slippers to match. She dressed herself, and stepped out of the room. She had to find the last six-pointed star, and weave the hundredth weave.

 

Stepping out of the room, she found herself in the servants quarters. She had spent so many happy days here with Benna. As she scanned the halls, she saw dark residue on the walls. Was it blood? Turning down the hall, she moved toward the main galleries and found that it was dried blood. The fall. She hadn’t been here since the fall. If she had, she would have gone into the Blight. Bodies were scattered everywhere. But not fresh ones. They were all decaying, not quite skeletons, and they all smelled terrible. She did not to look at the faces to see if she knew anyone. She just kept walking, dust and dried blood beginning to collect on her skirt.

 

She was drawn to the throne room where the floor was absolutely littered with bodies. Some of the bodies were Trollocs and Myrdraal, but most of them were human. She tried not to think that her father would likely be one of them. In the middle of the floor, she found a six-pointed star etched out in black tiles against the predominant white.

 

Ay’Lira wove around the bodies, keeping her eyes on the star. As she approached, she heard someone running toward her, shouting her name. Looking back, but not startled, she found her younger brother Teru. He was dirty, had a beard growing, and tears in his eyes. “Lira, you’re back! What are you doing here?” he asked as she continued to walk.

 

“I have a purpose here,” she said simply, still moving to the star.

 

“A purpose? What is it?”

 

“I need to complete something.”

 

“Well…can I help?”

 

“No, this is something only I can do.”

 

“When you’re finished…you can come live with us again. We’re living in Fal Moran now. I’m one of the defenders against the Blight, can you believe it?”

 

There was a touch of excitement in his voice. The same little boy she had played with and taught archery to all those years ago… She bit back the tears. “No, I cannot. Tell mother and Benna that I love them, yourself as well,” she said as she stepped into the star and wove the last weave. When it was done, there was a spray of colors…

 

And she was back in the room of the testing. She stumbled, but didn’t fall as she walked toward Valeri, but she didn’t go very far. She couldn’t believe how different Teru was. Out of all those memories, her brother as a desperate assassin and her brother as a proud defender of Fal Moran…which one had he become? Valeri’s clapping snapped her to attention. “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 again. “Ay’Lira Sonoran, you will spend the night 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.” With that, she clapped yet again, and left the room.

 

As the seven Sisters crowded her, they asked if she would like a Healing. Looking down, she saw herself covered in scrapes, cuts, and bruises. The Yellow Healed her after she accepted it, and almost let out a shout of the surprise of coldness. She dressed herself in her own clothes, putting on the ring first. The sisters escorted her to her room. It was late at night, and everyone was asleep when she came back to her room. After she ate the food left for her, she tried to pray and contemplate, but she was far too tired. She drifted off to sleep, not bothering to cover herself with her blankets, and not bothering to strip to her shift…

 

Ay’Lira woke up perhaps three hours later, by her guess, and brushed her hair out, smoothing out of skirt. She drank some water, checked herself in the mirror, and sat back down on her bed. A smile crept up on her lips. She had passed the test. She passed! The enormity hadn’t quite hit her last night. But she woke up now, excited for what was to come. But she knew she still had to maintain her calm, so she allowed some of her pent-up giggles to escape. She caught her breath, schooling herself, and waited.

 

A few minutes later, there were three knocks on the door. Standing, she walked to the door and opened it. A Red sister stood with six others, one for each Ajah. They stood in silence, but didn’t have to wait long for her to join them. They left with her and escorted her back to the room where she had tested. The Sitters from each Ajahs were there with one other sister there, holding a shawl. She couldn’t see all of it from where she stood at the doorway, but she knew the ceremony by heart. They were all shawled, and the Amyrlin and Keeper were stoled.

 

“Who comes here?” asked the Amyrlin.

 

“Ay’Lira Sonoran,” she answered.

 

“For what reason do you come?”

 

“To swear the Three Oaths and thereby gain 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 Tower.”

 

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

 

Ay’Lira entered, keeping her countenance, serene and confident. She walked through the now still ring, but when she walked through, she was still in the same room. She had halfway expected another test. She found her way to the Amyrlin and knelt. Now with the Oath rod in front of her, she channeled just a bit of Spirit.

 

“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 not make one 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.”

 

Ay’Lira noticed that as she swore each Oath, her skin tightened. But again, she wasn’t surprised with the unexpected effect. She handed the Oath Rod back to the Amyrlin. The Amyrlin said, “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.”

 

Ay’Lira rose, now an Aes Sedai. No longer a “child”, and walked among the rows of sisters. When she had finally chosen her Ajah, she wondered to herself what took her so long to make that decision. But now she knew, no matter what hesitations she may have taken. And now she stood in front of the Greens, awaiting their words.

Edited by Leala Gymorraine

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Amena took a deep breath and wished, not for the first time, that Jaydena would just wake up from her little rest and get back to doing her job. So far, the Greens had just accepted her as their Head, but she had a sneaky suspicion it was because no one else wanted to do it. She was just getting too old for this.

 

"All for the Light, all for the Tower, all for the Green Ajah," she muttered, smoothing her hands over the skirt of an emerald green dress to press out imaginary wrinkles. She'd argued with the seamstress about keeping it simple, as she had little time for finery. The mad little woman had managed to sneak in a bit of embroidery along the hem, claiming that the long expanse of her blends of cotton and wool would just make Amena look like a ghost, floating along the corridors of the Tower. It had actually been appropriate and sounded really good to Amena, but the seamstress refused to take the stitching out and Amena simply didn't have the time. The only reason she hadn't raked the woman over the coals, then, was because she'd paired a lovely shawl to match the stitching in the hem. The fabric of the shawl was a subtle shade lighter than the dress, but the deep green fringe trailed like a wedding veil down the back of the dress to dust the floor ever so slightly as she walked. The seamstress hadn't charged her for the shawl, quoting some strange belief that it was bad luck to charge an Aes Sedai to make a shawl. Amena had never heard of such nonsense, but she hadn't the time to argue about that, either. She'd compensated the woman in a tip, anyway.

 

Amena paused, hearing the scurrying in the hallway. It must be time, she thought, pausing on her way to the door to stare into the eyes of the woman who was about to break the heart of the newest Aes Sedai in the Tower. "Light, give me strength," she whispered, before looking away and opening the door to a wide-eyed Novice in the Hallway.

 

"Amena Sedai, you are summoned to..." the girl stammered.

 

Amena held up her hand, then dismissed the girl with a casual, "I know. Run along and let the others know, child."

 

She waited until she heard the others moving before she made her way to the steps leading down out of the Greens' Quarters to await them.

 

~Amena

 

***********************************

Loraine jumped when she heard the knock on the door, a lock of hair slipping out of her fingers to curl along the side of her face. She sighed and called for the Novice she'd been expecting to enter the room. "Loraine Sedai, you are summoned to..."

 

The girl trailed off before she could finish and Loraine turned to see why. The girl was mesmorized by a shelf just behind the vanity Loraine was sitting at, trying to corral her hair into a more intricate knot than she'd tried in a while. Loraine smiled and shook her head. "There's a story with each trinket on that shelf, child," she said softly. "I'd be happy to tell you a few, but some of them might well give you nightmares."

 

The girl turned her eyes back to Loraine and nodded, numbly, her lips trying to pick up where she'd left off. "It's alright, my dear, I know where I'm supposed to go. I'll be there straight away."

 

With that she turned back and finished pinning a twisted section of hair behind her head before twisting the a jade sphere to hang between her eyebrows. Satisfied that she'd done a decent job of it, she pushed herself to her feet and reached for her formal shawl that hung on a rack close to the door. The Novice had disappeared and Loraine shook her head. The poor thing was going to get eaten for breakfast if she didn't stiffen that spine up a little. The other Novices would make sure it happened long before an Aes Sedai got ahold of her, too.

 

With one last passing glance over her the green silk gown she'd chosen for the day, she stepped into the hallway to join Amena at the end. It was always a stark contrast standing next to this woman, she thought, moving towards her and taking in her appearance. Amena's hair always hung straight down her back, and the color never gave her age away. She was always dressed simply and it took a really discerning eye to see the finery the woman was actually walking around in. She claimed not to have time or interest in clothes, but she never wore stout wool dresses and always spent quite a lot of money to get the blended fabrics that one seamstress in town had in her stocks. She fussed about every extra stitch, but the colors and minimalist embroidery always made her look more regal than a common board woman from Camelyn should. Loraine was never quite sure what to make of this woman, and she'd had a long time to try! She was almost looking forward to seeing how this woman would handle her duties as the Head of the Greens today. It took a very strong woman to look a glittery-eyed Aes Sedai in the eye and tell her she was little better than the Accepted she had been just moments before...

 

~Loraine

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Kathleen puttered around her room trying to stop her thoughts from wandering back to the last time she was headed to the ceremony she was preparing for. She had thought it would be the best day of her life. She supposed it wasn't far off in retrospect. She had spent decades to reach that moment, and she took some comfort in recalling the feeling of finally being Aes Sedai. A truly joyous moment, and Kathleen was sure the girl would feel that excitement and pride right now.

 

She hadn't spent much time with the girl, but she knew there was a good chance she would choose the Greens. She almost hoped the woman would not walk toward her when asked to choose her Ajah. Not that she wouldn't welcome a new Initiate, someone to relieve her of the pressures of the newest member, but she hoped the girl would choose another shawl so she could truly enjoy this day as she should.

 

But the newest Sister did have a duty to her Ajah, and she would fulfill it at every chance. Kathleen had gone through the process as all the other's had, and would not fall out of ceremony now. For all she truly knew of the girl she could be giving herself sweaty palms over nothing. The girl could choose one of the other six ajahs. And if she chose the Greens, it was her choice, and she would get through it like Kathleen herself had.

 

Kathleen let out a breath and looked through the closet. She hated dressing up for ceremonies. Not that she thought anything ill of dressing up, she just wasn't sure what was expected and didn't want to be the one over dressed or the one under-dressed. She didn't pay too much attention to what she wore most of the time, but she knew she was expected to dress well for this.

 

She found a dress that she hoped would fit in well and quickly set her hair in a tight bun, with a small metal clip with a jade stone to set it. She found her matching necklace and when it was clasped she rushed to find the formal shawl she had received so long after she had first approached her Ajah.

 

It almost seemed a farce to wear it to the ceremony. She represented the newest member to her ajah, and it seemed a farce to represent that with her shawl. Still she had earned it, and she was proof that was attainable. She thought back on her own raising ceremony and forced herself to reconnect with the joy she had felt. This girl had done amazing things to get to this place and she would honour her and share in her joy and pride of the great accomplishment.

 

Kathleen smiled at her reflection as she filled with excitement. She was truly lucky to be witness to this important moment in the girl's life. With a quick glance around her room to be sure everything was exactly where it should be, Kathleen left her room to meet the Sitters and her Head in the hall.

 

~ Kathleen Vandiar

Green Sister

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Rasheta finished braiding her hair into her signature three long braids down her back. She pinned a comb into her hair as well and then turned her attention to Visar who smiled at her. "Do I look alright?" She asked smiling back. He nodded and she stood up and stretched. Today was the day, another young Accepted taking the Oaths to be Aes Sedai, the tower was fairly certain the girl, Ay'Lira would choose the Green Ajah, if she did Rasheta had to look the poor girl in the face and tell her she still had a lot of work to do before actually being considered a Green. She hated this part, it seemed so anticlimactic. and then the months or years of work to be considered one of the Greens, and then the work after that to learn how the Ajah ran, it just seemed so harsh. She knew it was also required however, the Green Ajah could not accept anything less then perfection and this was the only way. She sighed deeply and picked up her shawl it was going to be a long day. Visar noticed her mood and before she opened the door to the room he hugged her and wished her well. She allowed herself a moment to feel comforted and then left the room.

 

Kathleen looked excited and Rasheta tried not to smile, it must be a relief to possibly not be the youngest sister anymore. Kathleen was probably remembering her ceremony and the emotions that went with it. When she had been denied the right to be Green, the hard work she had put in to win over the Ajah, and then finally her Vigil and the party that followed where she had been finally accepted and now she stood to help someone new enter the Ajah. Well possibly there was always a chance the Accepted would chose a different Ajah. Rasheta nodded to Loraine and Amena and then lost the battle with the smile and teased. "You should show more Aes Sedai serenity Kathleen it won't do to show anything less in front of a possible new recruit." Her smile belayed the words but Kat did look a little more subdued. Rasheta waited for there Ajah head to precede her and then Loraine went next. Rasheta and Kathleen brought up the rear of the party. "Are you ready for this?" Rasheta whispered to her friend. Kat seemed eager, and her response proved this. Rasheta nodded her head, and added "Try not to smile too big if she does choose us." Again she was smiling, but when the double doors opened she made her face look like all the other Aes Sedai serene and quiet.

 

Rasheta watched as Ay'Lira swore her oaths and then walked toward them. Rasheta inwardly steeled herself for the next part of the ceremony, and prayed the girl wouldn't choose Taia as her teacher. Taia was already a handful, if she annoyed this recruit so much that something either burned down, blew up, or drowned the Ajah would be in trouble. It was bad enough that Taia had been sent to teach defensive weaves some time ago. Jaydena's idea of a joke apparently, even though they had all asked her not to do it, it had done no good. Thinking back Rasheta realized Ay'Lira had been the student Taia had been sent to teach. It was a wonder she hadn't tried to kill her teacher and wanted nothing else to do with the Ajah itself. Rasheta stopped those thoughts and waited for Amena to speak as was her right since Jaydena's odd sleep, well Ay'Lira would learn all about things like the Ajah head and customs when she was done with this next part. It was going to be a long day indeed.

 

Rasheta Ardashir

Green Sitter

Waiting

Edited by Rasheta Ardashir

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Loraine held her breath as the ceremony came to a close and watched with no small amount of pride as the girl walked straight to their little group of Sisters. It took every ounce of training to not grin as the other Ajahs filed out of the room, leaving them alone with their newest Sister. She took a deep breath and cast her eyes to Amena’s profile, which was all she could see from this angle. The woman was a rock, and Loraine was trained to see every twitch of muscle in someone’s face. Ah, the joys of being raised in Carhien!

 

~Loraine

Amena held her breath so tight, it burned in her lungs. She sent silent prayers to the Creator for the girl to walk somewhere else, anywhere else! As much as the Greens needed Sisters filling their halls, she wasn’t sure she had what it would take to break the woman who turned and began walking among the heads of the Ajahs. When Ay’Lira stopped before them, she let her breath out slowly, half of her heart singing and glad, the other screaming in frustration. Why didn’t Jade just wake up already?! She was always so much better at this!

Amena waited until the room cleared and nodded solemnly. “Welcome,” she said simply. “Please follow us.” Her tone was flat, her gaze even more so. She didn’t let one drop of the insane turmoil inside her to burst free as she turned and walked through the same door they’d entered just moments before. She just accepted that the newest among them would follow, what else could she do? With every step back to the Green Quarters, she drew up her courage and tried to form a picture of a Dark Friend in her head. Sure, it wasn’t exactly kind, but she’d questioned plenty of them in her time as an Aes Sedai and she vowed she would give this girl no more room to wiggle free than she had the Dark Friends.

 

She took a deep breath as they reached the Green Halls and turned to face the crew behind her. They’d already decided that Kathleen would be the girl’s mentor as she cut her path to her shawl, so she didn’t turn and ask Kathleen to leave them as she pushed open the door to Jade’s… her office. She held the door open as they moved past her and she waved them into the various chairs around the room, indicating that Ay’Lira should take the one directly across from her desk. “If you would please,” she said quietly as she closed the door and moved to sit behind the desk. She’d always thought Jade’s office was a little cluttered and she wondered idly if she should change that. Did the others see her as a stand in until Jade returned? Should she do anything to change that opinion?

 

She shook her head inwardly and settled in the chair, leaning her elbows on the desk as the others settled around the room. Silly thoughts she didn’t have time for right now. She decided to dispense with the pleasantries and just get the hard part over with. No use prolonging the inevitable, after all. “Why did you choose the Green Ajah, Ay’Lira?”

 

~Amena

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Ay'Lira knew that each Ajah had different ways of welcoming their newest members. These ways were all kept secret to the Ajahs themselves, which was why all other Ajahs left when the candidate picked theirs. But when all six other Ajahs filed out, and no one offered the shawl draped across Kathleen's arm...she knew something wasn't right. This was different. Amena spoke up. Her voice was flat when she welcomed Ay'Lira. So...this is the other test, then, she thought. She was determined to pass this one too. She let the excitement fade. She had to be ready for whatever she was about to say. She followed the small group to the Green Quarters and sat as Amena instructed. Then the other woman leaned forward and asked why Ay'Lira had chosen the Green Ajah.

 

Her first thought was, Why does anyone choose the Green Ajah? Everyone had their own reasons. So, Ay'Lira would give hers. They had all seen her take the Oaths. They would know her words were true. "I chose the Green Ajah, because its mission speaks to me in the deepest sense," she began, proud of her strong and even voice. This was terrifying. This was not something she had been taught would happen. What if they rejected her and she was put out of the Tower? Then, she would move on. There was a whole world out there. But still. She had been preparing for this for years! And she had taken the Oaths. No one could say she was not Aes Sedai. "Even though I have spent these last many years in training in the White Tower, I've always known that I would one day fight the Shadow. I've been preparing myself for the day that I would. I'll admit, some of my intentions are vengeful. The Blight stole my homeland and my father with it. But I've also seen wonders worked in the Light. I knew that no matter which Ajah I chose, I would be a warrior in the Light. But the Green Ajah's mission is to fight the Shadow until the very end with every minute of their life, with every fiber of their own threads in the Pattern. That is why I chose the Green Ajah."

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Amena listened as the newest Green answered, knowing it was the truth without having to rely on the oaths to keep the girl from lying. Lying now would be a bad idea, anyway. She leaned back in her chair, steepling her fingers in front of her as she braced her elbows on the arms of Jade's chair. "What makes you any different than the rest of us, Ay'Lira?" She kept her voice flat, though the urge to get annoyed was overwhelming. It had been a long time since she'd been in that chair and, having never witnessed this from any other perspective she wondered how many others among them had sat in that chair and said the exactly same thing. She waved her hand around at the others in the room. "They've all lost someone close to them to the shadow. Light save us, we carry scars that few others in this Tower would dream of living through."

 

"What you know is next to nothing," she said, her voice even. "What you know will keep a Blue alive in Camelyn. In the face of a trolloc with his mind on a cookpot..." she shrugged and looked over her shoulder at the others. "I hope you like carrots."

 

She leaned forward again, bracing her elbows on the desktop and fixing Ay'Lira with a flat stare. "You are a child, and in the face of the shadow, barely more dangerous than a Novice. What you want means nothing. What you've done before now means nothing. What you think means nothing. The only thing that matters is what you do once you leave this room." She paused, wondering selfishly if she could get through this without breaking right along with the girl across the desk from her. She kept her face emotionless, picturing the trolloc that would dismantle this girl if she didn't do this right in her head. "We have standards that must be met and, though the Tower deems you trained well enough to wear a shawl, we do not deem you trained well enough to wear ours. You will be given quarters. You will appear, to the rest of the Tower, as if you are an Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah. Only we will know that you are not."

 

She let that sink in for a second before she continued. "Kathleen will be your mentor. You will begin training first thing tomorrow morning with others among the Ajah. When they feel you are ready, you will petition this Ajah for acceptance, again. Only when we feel you are capable of bringing worth and substance to this Ajah will you truly be a sister of the Green Ajah."

 

She stood slowly, lifting her hand to the door in dismissal. "Kathleen will show you to your rooms. The others will be waiting to greet you when you're ready to face them."

 

~Amena

yeah, that was brutal...

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Ay'Lira felt her chest tighten with anger, but kept any blood from rushing to her face or angry tears from spilling. She was Aes Sedai now. She wouldn't let her anger show. But when Amena said cut her to the bone. She never claimed to be better than anyone. She never claimed to be ready to fight the Shadow, only that she was willing. She never said that her vegence was somehow more pure or honest or righteous that anyone else's. She had given a full, honest perspective of why she chose the Green Ajah. If the Green Ajah wanted to oust her, then fine. She wasn't a child any more. She'd either choose another Ajah or just leave. No one could take the Three Oaths from her. but as Amena kept talking, Ay'Lira began to see what was really happening. Training, was it? Well, they wouldn't call it training, likely, probably a test or judgement...but taking on a mentor, being shown the ropes until you were ready...it was training! It made perfect sense.

 

Letting herself breathe, Ay'Lira nodded. "That makes perfect sense. I can't very well fight anything if I'm seen as nothing but a liability." she stood and curtsied to Amena. Light, how that still burned. After all she had been through...no. She still wouldn't let it show. Whether or not she was a Green, she was still an Aes Sedai. "Under the Light, I shall do my best," she said before turning from her chair to leave the small room.

 

Opening the door, she found the other sisters who had escorted her here. Her eyes found Kathleen. So, she would be her mentor. She wondered for a moment if that would be anything like having Taia as a mentor. Ignoring any irritation she still felt, she curtsied to the sisters. Aes Sedai and sister of the Green Ajah were just different things, and she'd simply have to see it as that until they saw her as fit to wear that shawl. Not sure what to say, she simply said, "I'm ready." Using all these dead-pan, even voices...she thought this day would be full of rejoicing and welcome. But this is what she had chosen. That day would come...just not now.

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Amena held her breath as she watched them all leave the office, Loraine closing the door behind her. Finally alone, Amena dropped into her chair and took a deep breath. her eyes wandered around the room again and she felt an anger bubbling up inside her. Jade should've been here to do this. She should be fighting whatever was keeping her asleep. For the first time since she'd stepped in as Ajah Head, she was second-guessing her decision to assume control. Light, I'm a soldier! I can order armies into battle! Surely I can handle a few women...

 

She thought of the stubborn set of Ay'Lira's jaw and straightened her shoulders. If that girl could handle the blow she'd just dealt her, then it was her responsibility to handle having dealt it. She could do this. The Light knew someone had to...

 

 

~Amena

Welcome to the Greenies... sorta... ;)

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