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  1. "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.
  2. The clouds drifted past the dreamy moon. And it was a dreamy room. Round and high in the sky, bright and yet not glaring enough to make you want to squint. Camigwen’s fingers lingered on the window skill, her eyes was lost. A sort of desperation for the day to be over. She was tired from classes all morning. And her back ached from the 100 weave practices her friends and her had been doing over the past months. In her mind she imagined the test to be far worse and part of her prepared for failure. “Bardin, my beloved brother, keep me safe this day.” She sighed and closed the curtains. Her room smelt of spices and dried herbs, and a slightly sinister looking skeleton model. A gift from one of the Yellow Sisters who had taken her under her wing. “Bardin, if only you could see me now.” The knock sounded as Camigwen sat down upon her bed, startling her and making her get up in a hurry. Her silky hair streaked behind her as she walked towards the door, her footsteps muted by the carpet that lay on the floor. Odd how details seemed to scream at her now. Patterns that could not be deciphered, a weave of complex knots, reminding her of the Healing weaves she herself had been schooled in. “Camigwen Klatsang Marivin, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai, the light keep you whole and see you safe.” Camigwen froze at the words. Gorivin Crasula, the Mistress Novices’ face was serene, none of the usual warmth that greeted Camigwen when she met the Aes Sedai in classes or in the corridors. She wanted to speak. To say she was not ready. But that would not be. For she had been taught to maintain silence, to move as the escort moved and to believe in herself. Bardin, help me. Be with me, my brother. With a silent nod, Camigwen turned and shut the door behind her with a click. Her mind was chaos, but she worked her Novice exercises. A bud opening to the sun, and that calmed her down. With hushed footsteps she followed the Mistress of Novices. At this time of the night, there were few Accepted about, but those she passed gave her an encouraging smile. None dared approach her, for that was the rule. But she felt their love anyway, and was comforted. The path they took, Aes Sedai and Accepted, was familiar to Camigwen. Steps that led towards the chamber of testing, a place similar to the one she had gone to for her Accepted testing. Dark shadows danced across the walls as torches flickered slightly in the night breeze. Camigwen took it as a blessing, that the night was not hot and clammy as it had been the past few nights. The rain during the day had taken away most of the heat. At any rate, Camigwen’s mind was such a jumbled mess of thoughts the temperature bothered her not. But she had to breathe. Breathe. That helped a little. At least to loosen the knots she felt in her stomach. She relaxed her grip on her banded dress, a dress she prayed would no longer be needed after tonight. Breathe. It would happen. She would pass. And then she would be Aes Sedai. Healing those in need. And providing them succor in their times of pain. She would be Aes Sedai. There had to be no other way. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sensation of someone channeling nearby. In her shock she realized it was the Mistress of Novices, flows of Air, pushing two large doors open. Darkened by age and gilded, the doors reminded her of the great doors leading to the Hall of the Tower. Strange shapes were carved into them, many she did not recognize. Those that she did, were portrayed in ways she was not familiar with. But that was not to be her focus. Breathe. “Attend.” Gorivin Sedai’s voice was clear in the echoey interior of the large chamber. Aes Sedai of different Ajahs turned to look at them. Camigwen recognized many of them, having been through lessons and various channeling exercises with them. A large oval ring occupied the centre of the room and the seven Aes Sedai from each of the seven Ajahs moved to from a ring around it. “You come in ignorance Camigwen Klatsang Marivin, how would you depart?” Ancient words intoned by the sister who wore a Red shawl. Rosum Thorava Sedai. A lesson in Shielding. “In knowledge of myself.” Camigwen smiled slightly. Her voice did not waver. But she knew this was barely anything to be proud of. Breathe. “For what reason have you been summoned here?” “To be tried.” Camigwen swallowed, moistening a throat that had quickly dried up. “For what reason should you be tried?” “So that I may learn whether I am worthy.” “For what would you be found worthy?” Camigwen shut her eyes and opened them. This was what her past few decades of life were for. “To wear the shawl.” Breathe. "Therefore I will instruct you. You will see the sign upon the ground." Saidar glowed around the Mistress of Novices. A six pointed star appeared drawn in Fire. Camigwen stared at it with worried eyes. Behind her, she felt someone channel something that touched her head. She did not turn, but recognized the voice that spoke. "Remember what must be remembered." Jindarla Sedai. A Blue. She had taught Daes Dae’mar. And had marveled at how quickly Camigwen had picked it up. No time for memories. Focus. Breathe. And so it continued. "When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power. The weaving required must begin immediately, and you may not leave that sign until it is completed." "Remember what must be remembered." "When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation" ”Remember what must be remembered." "One hundred times you will weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure", "Remember what must be remembered." It ended as abruptly as it started. And Camigwen took a deep breath. Her face was unreadable as she was led to the starting point of the test. Shutting her eyes, she started her Novice exercises again, her fingers undoing the buttons of her banded dress as she opened herself to the sun. Part of her was tempted to embrace Saidar, but that was not allowed. One by one, her dress, her shift, her stockings, everything was piled onto the table. And finally, she removed the Great Serpent ring. A symbol of all she was living for. Nothing made her feel more naked. But it would only be for a while. Not long. Breathe. Once again the chamber filled with the glow of the sisters, who had begun channeling something incredibly complex. But their glow was no match for the blinding white light that emanated from the oval ring. Its glare made Camigwen squint a little. But it did not soften her resolve. It was time. With a steady pace, she walked forward. Her nakedness forgotten. Her beauty no longer of use to her. Her love for others, only adding to her determination. Her memory of lessons became a distant whisper. She would be Aes Sedai this day. She stepped through. Breathe.
  3. "I've been hunted, captured and neutered. What could you possibly want from me?". Nynaeve considered the man for a moment. Sympathy surfaced, yet she knew that what was done to him had to be done. There was no way around it. Channeling men couldn't be allowed to roam around free. They couldn't be trusted with the power they possessed, whether they had high potential or not. The faintest use of the power could be lethal in the hands of a lunatic. They had to be denied of Saidin at any cost or otherwise they'd spread destruction every way they turned. "I want to study you, Joseph. For that, I need your consent. I wouldn't be able to do it properly if you fight me." Joseph's bitter laugh rang in Nynaeve's ears. His face was hollow and his eyes were emotionless. The combination sent chills down her spine. Joseph was condemned by the White Tower to a life without Saidin. It was a well known fact that most men didn't survive long after a gentling. Taking away their access to the source seemed to take away their will to live as well. Nynaeve hoped to find a way to prevent that through her study. She refused to believe that doing the right thing had to result in death. Even if it was not immediate, gentling and stilling seemed to be a death sentence. "What could you possibly learn from me? I'm nothing but a shell of the person I once was. Thanks to you and your kind." Nynaeve wrinkled her brows. He was resentful. But it was a defeated hate. She had no doubt that the man that was standing in front of her was only a speck of what he used to be. With his spirit broken and what he cherished the most taken away, he didn't seem to want to carry on. Could she blame him? "You will not cooperate, then?", Nynaeve inquired. She didn't usually beat around the bush and liked to go straight to the point. If the man refused to help, pressure would have to be applied. It was in everyone's best interest for him to be persuaded. And even if Joseph would never have believed it, she did not wish to put him through more grief. He went through enough as it was. Joseph never responded. Was that a reply in itself? "Your family came looking for you earlier." An emotion passed over Joseph's expression like a shadow. "Tell them I'm gone. Dead and buried." His eyes burned of remorse, yet they were determined. Nynaeve smiled. "No." His empty eyes locked with hers as fury washed over them. "If you meet me on a daily basis for sessions, I will arrange for them to leave, ignorant of your presence here. If you refuse, you will have to face your wife and children and tell them that they're simply not important enough for you to want to carry on living. Your wife's name is Jusie, correct? She's a stunning woman. And little Toby has the biggest crystal blue eyes I've ever seen. The way they shine up when you….". Nynaeve's words were cut off as the man hurled himself at her, his hands going to her throat. Weaving some air threads hastily, she stopped Joseph, who was now only inches away. She knew his family would be a risky card to use. But he left her no choice by refusing to help her. She could not stand aside and see so many men die when their only crime was to be cursed by two things. Being able to channel and being male. There had to be a solution and Nynaeve had to find it. It was time for everyone to realize that Yellows could heal more then just wounds. They could heal lives as well. "No need to get agitated, Joseph. I was simply complimenting your lovely family, that is all." Nynaeve eyed him for a moment and then released the weaves that surrounded him. "I'm trusting you here, Joseph. Care to return the favor?" Joseph's expression seemed pained. He was thinking of his family, no doubt. Tears started to slide down his cheeks. He leaned against the wall and slid slowly down, his knees giving away. "You will tell them…the shame….I love them but….I can't….". Nynaeve rested her hand on his shoulder. "It will be taken care of. Rest now. We'll speak again tomorrow." Nynaeve left the room, pleased at her progress. If Joseph only knew that their session really started when she first stepped into the room. Nyn Yellow
  4. Thwack… A shimmering silver blade flew through the air and pierced through the slick oil painting, lodging itself into the wall behind it. Glowing at the end of the hilt was a shining sapphire that resembled the flame of Tar Valon. Not now, though. It appeared to be too much like a tear drop. “Hah! A tear drop! I’d be cursed by the Dark One’s own luck if I shed another bloody tear!” An enraged voice pierced through the silence. Thwack… Another blade, another scream, another hole in the wall. The small hands that wielded the knives were pale, almost ivory in colour, and shook with the anger so accustomed to her people. Saldaeans were known to erupt in a rage; however, it was usually over something petty like being jealous of another woman. No, this was nothing like that. Emptiness, loneliness, darkness, and pain that none but an Aes Sedai could endure, flowed through the blood of this tiny woman. For Ages and Ages, the female channellers of the White Tower had been dealing with the death of their Warders, many of them made it through the suffering alive, and lived on to Bond another. No… not this… She pleaded with herself. However, usually, the Aes Sedai would remain with the Gaidin or Gaidar for quite some time, before the time would come to release their mortal shells into the depths of the earth, the last embrace of the Mother. Not this Sedai. Her wounds cut deep, and seemed to bleed eternally. Thwack… The blade seemed to shake the entire way towards the painting, and when steel met wood, the hilt wobbled from the force behind the throw. The painting could handle the thrusts…but could she? Could Serena Morrigan, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah, bear the loss of a fourth Gaidin? Could she handle the stabbing pain in her chest, the un-ending nights of waking to gasping sobs, and the re-occurring notion to destroy everything that crossed her path? Let alone, keep herself alive? Thwack… Granted, two of her Bondmates were still alive. One, was slowly going mad, although he would surely deny it; and the other... Oh, Thera…Why? Serena’s chest heaved as she felt a sob building. It seemed to wash over her body like a wave exploding from her heart. Was it possible, that having a beloved Gaidar, whom you loved more than anything, marry a man and forget all about you while you were busy trying to save blasted lives, be worse than all of the others? Light, she was still alive; yet, Serena pined for the woman like a bloody lost puppy. Yes, their bond had been broken, but that did not mean the woman had to move on. Did it? The slow creaking of hinges broke Serena’s concentration, and she turned towards her door quickly. Without thought, she lifted her hand to the side of her head and thrust her last knife at the door. A familiar face glared back at her. To her dismay, the Saldaean Aes Sedai did not hear the comforting sound of the steel penetrating the wood. Instead, it hung in the air, mere inches before Estel Liones. “A few years late, don’t you think?” Light, it was a good thing she’d been on her toes coming in or else she’d have a nasty hole in her chest. While a knife imbedded in one’s body certainly made a fashion statement, they were hardly the most comfortable of accessories; idly the Domani ran a finger along her forearm where an inch-long scar stood testament to one of the many rather miserable days the Blue had experienced. “What have I done recently to elicit this sort of welcome?” Considering the Red Amyrlin and recent change in Ajah leadership, coupled with the return of its least favourite member, the sound of periodic thunking was hardly an uncommon occurrence in the Blue Quarters these days. Nastascia, at least, no doubt spent countless hours of the day thunking her head against her desk and Light knew the reason for her frustration spent excessive periods of time thunking the brandy bottles she was no longer allowed to drink against the walls. With the threat of Tarmon Gaidon looming over their heads, younger Blues spent as much time as possible thunking their Warders (or each other) today, lest they be thunked on the head by a Trolloc tomorrow. However, today’s source of thunking came from a particularly familiar room that hadn’t been occupied since Estel’s last escapade from the Tower. Serena had left shortly after the Watchers group had been released from their Bonds and, at the time, the younger Blue had been in no condition to talk to anyone – least of all her “babysitter”. Some two months later found in her in a... if not healthy, at least more balanced state of mind. Besides, she and Lavinya had an incredibly tenuous agreement concerning Order Members. Therefore she’d gone to investigate, and barely survived, her one-time friend’s return to the Tower.
  5. Gianna sat in her room; trying to still the shaking that wanted to overcome her. She had done it; she had passed the test. Tomorrow, she would be Aes Sedai. It was all she had dreamed of for years now, and now the time was finally at hand. Two Aes Sedai present during her test had deposited her at her room for the last time. Gianna had sat on the edge of her bed, contemplating the hurts she had received in the ter'angreal-- both physical and emotional. That cold Blue, Nastascia, had been present again for her testing. Gianna was sure that some of the most vicious scenarios she had faced were Nasty's doing. Her shaking was from the rage, not fatigue. The audacity of that woman! I am sure the burning of Cairhien was her doing, as was Toram's presence during my last weave. She must have wanted me to fail! She thought long and hard on the implications of this, and her thoughts also strayed to the box that was carefully concealed under her bed. Gianna had toyed with this idea for a couple of weeks now, ever since that conversation with Elyssa in the Blue quarters. It had been only a few days since she had managed to convince a stable hand to supply her with the mice and beetles. She had received them just in time, it seemed. After receiving Healing for the injuries she sustained during the testing, Gianna was ravenous. Almost as if summoned by her thoughts, a light knock sounded at her door. Gianna went to open it; a slim and beautiful woman from the Kitchens stood there, holding a tray full of food. The young lady's name was Charise, she was an under-manager of the Kitchens. As Charise entered the room to place the tray on the small table, inspiration struck Gianna like lightning. She turned to the diminutive woman. "Charise? Do you remember how you told me that if I ever needed a favor in return for my help that day....to ask?" Charise turned toward her and nodded, the obvious question on her face. She had a wonderful figure, and she had been suffering the unwanted attentions of the male helpers in the Kitchens until Gianna had noticed her predicament one day while scrubbing pots. Gianna had gone straight to Laras and explained the situation; the next day the offending males were out of the Kitchens on their noses and Charise was a new under-manager. She would do anything to return the favor to this young Accepted. No...not Accepted, not anymore. This young lady is now almost Aes Sedai. I hope she will remain the same kind soul after she gains the shawl tomorrow. "Of course I remember, Gianna. What is it that I may do for you?" Gianna quickly explained her plot, and Charise couldn't help but let a smile spread slowly across her face. She agreed readily to the plan and made her courtesies and left for the Kitchens. Charise rubbed her hands together eagerly as she walked, yet stifled the chuckles of delight that wanted to escape from her mouth. Nastascia had this coming, there was no doubt of that. Charise couldn't remember the number of times the dour Blue had thrown a fit at the Kitchen staff for some affront or another. Charise quickened her pace; she had some specially ordered tea to dispose of.
  6. IC: The muscles of her legs stretched and contracted with each stride. Breathing deeply and exhaling she ran. He mind was centered and she thought only one thing…making one leg move after another. She did not notice the trainees looking at her…usually she would have noticed and smiled or waved to them. She felt an odd feeling that she needed to be focused this day…the feeing itched her in the back of her mind. Ever since her weapon training started Sana made her run laps each day, and Veris came to find that it was a great way for he to let of steam. She always felt relaxed after a run. Slowing down she grabbed her things and jogged towards her rooms. As she headed to her rooms she ran into her friends. Raine her best friend was amongst them. They were talking about an Accepted that was seen being taken to the testing halls. Very early that moring…Veria did not dare ask why Raine was out at that hour. The woman’s name was Garada…one the would surely go red. Veria felt for the accepted…she knew her and wandered if she would come through ok. Garada was a stubborn woman and smart…but you just never knew. Making excuses Veria left to go and bathe. Once she was bathed and clothed again in her accepted’s dress she went to the library to study her history class. While she was there she found her mentee Audie doing some class work as well. Sitting with her they caught up as they had not seen each other in a along time. AS they laughed quietly together, Veria felt someone come up behind her… It was The Mistress of Novices, Darienna Sedai. OOC: I hope you don't mind helping a out a little but taking her to the testing? Thankx :D
  7. It's over. It's finally over. Over twenty years of work, countless hours of study, countless days scrubbing pots, and all of it leading to this one night and day. Janine sat nude on her bed in the Accepted's quarters, legs folded up underneath her, elbows resting on her knees. Her eyes were locked on the door in front of her, though she really didn't see it. In her mind, Janine was replaying the events of the night, seeing every moment unfold in her imagination. The fire had long burned down to embers, but Janine did not notice the slight chill in the air. She simply sat and remembered... One hundred weaves, one final testing... The list of weaves seemed oppressively massive, but Janine had committed every evening from the day she got the list to learning and memorizing every single weave on the list. None of the weaves were hard, per se, but they were unusual. It was no easy task to memorize them because of their odd nature. Of course, there was the second part of the test: utterly calm serenity. That one would be more difficult than the weaves. Janine's temper was well-known throughout the Accepted's quarters; she always seemed to be on the edge of exploding, as if something was always at the back of her mind, making her angry with the world. If any of them had cared to ask Janine about it, they would have found out they were absolutely right, though they would not have liked the resulting answer... Voices in the hallway brought Janine out of her silent contemplation. From the sound of it, there were two novices out there, sneaking into the quarters of a despised Accepted, likely with something squirmy to liven her evening. Janine remembered doing that on more than one occasion, though it wasn't very original. She had much preferred something more shocking than having her victims wake up with a 'friend' in their bed. For a moment, she considered leaving her room to catch the two in the act. However, it was likely that she didn't like the targeted Accepted, either, and in a few hours, she wouldn't be able to do it herself. Settling back, Janine allowed her mind to return to its contemplations... Meals in the cafeteria were filling, if a bit bland, but Janine didn't mind. A full stomach kept her from being too cranky with whatever obnoxious novices she was stuck teaching. She did not have the patience for it at any time, much less with all these recent raisings and... "Janine Alastarn." Not again... This was probably over assigning a chore to some novice simply for getting on her nerves and... Turning, Janine saw that this was not the case. It was the Mistress of Novices. She was in her shawl. Oh, Light... "You are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. May the Light keep you whole and see you safe." Janine could have died in that moment. After the Accepted test, she'd thought that there would never be such a fear again, but that familiar cold began creeping up her spine, chilling her in an all-too-familiar manner... "Here we go again," Janine muttered. Another shiver racked Janine's body, causing her to wrap her arms tightly around herself. The walk down to the testing had passed in silence. She remembered her mind, how it had roiled and ran through the list of weaves. She knew them all, but they had been gone from her mind as if they'd never been. It had worried her, but she'd been able to force a calm over her mind as the walk had progressed. To the door... The silence was deafening, oppressive, yet Janine had to allow it. Once in the passages below the White Tower, silence was required. Even if that silence seemed to stretch forever as she descended lower and lower into the bowels of the Tower. Only upon reaching the lowest level, the last door, did they stop. It took no time for Janine to see the difference between this door and the other doors that they had passed. It was huge. There was no other way to say it. The size reminded Janine of the doors on fortresses or defensive towers. A simple weave of Air pushed the doors open, revealing... Janine gasped. Lamplight reflected off the white walls of the room, arching up to the domed ceiling. In the center of the room, an oval stood on edge, the light reflecting various colors off of it, never staying the same for a moment. With a sinking certainty, Janine knew that she was to be tested within the thing. However, this was not the Arches. This was different. Janine knew she was capable of doing this. The shattered girl that had come out of that bloody ter'angreal so long ago was dead and gone, replaced with a woman who knew what she was about. Failure was not an option. "Attend," the Mistress of Novices said formally. At the word, the seven Aes Sedai in the room stood around her in a ring. It was time to be done with it. "You come in ignorance, Janine Alastarn. How would you depart?" I would depart with the knowledge I need to be free of the restraints you've put upon me. The fiery thought was no reflection of Janine's tone as she calmly said, "In knowledge of myself." "For what reason have you been summoned here?" "To be tried." And not just my patience. "For what reason should you be tried?" A sudden realization hit Janine. This was one of the last steps in becoming Aes Sedai. She was almost done. Twenty-some years to get to this point, and it was almost over. "So that I may learn whether I am worthy." "For what would you be found worthy?" Serenity could not help the small smile that blossomed on Janine's face for a moment. "To wear the shawl..." Light, it had been terrible. A hundred memories had cascaded upon her all at once at the end of that testing. She felt tears beginning to form at the corners of her eyes at some of them. She'd seen her brothers thrust into Trolloc cookpots. She'd been thrown to starved lions. There'd been Inquisitors with their needles and hot pokers and worse things. She'd been beaten, scratched, nearly mauled, nearly raped, nearly dead in dozens of ways that she'd never expected. She'd fought Trollocs and Fades and all kinds of Shadowspawned filth. And she'd come out at the end. Janine had done it all without the failure she'd expected. She'd succeeded. The sounds from the hall seemed to indicate that the day would be starting soon. Rising from the bed, Janine quickly dressed, laying her few belongings on the bed. They'd be here for her soon. Almost on cue, there came three clear knocks at the door. Looking into the mirror one last time, Janine took a steadying breath and opened the door. It was no surprise that there were seven Aes Sedai awaiting her, one from each Ajah and all wearing their shawls. Stepping into the silent circle, Janine allowed them to lead her once again through the corridors of the Tower, down the familiar tunnels of the previous night, and to the doors of the previous night. There would be no need for knocking, she saw; the doors stood wide open, waiting for her arrival. However, the circle around her stopped, halting her progress. Ah, yes, traditions, precedence, propriety, Janine thought for a moment. She was anxious to gain the shawl, to finally be free of all these restrictions! "Who comes here?" The voice was familiar in a vague sort of way. Janine had heard the Amyrlin speak on a few occasions, but that was all the interaction she'd had with the woman. Just as well; her temper could have very well caused her trouble. "Janine Alastarn," she answered clearly, her voice ringing through the room. "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 twenty years of my life being poured into this one moment, she thought. However, that's not the answer they wanted. "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." Janine dared. The Amyrlin stood framed within the oval ter'angreal, the seven-striped stole on her shoulders, her Keeper by her side with a black cushion in hand. Janine knew what would be on that cushion. Knowing what would be there, knowing that it would be there made Janine realize that she'd truly made it. They were really going to do this. Stepping through the oval, she went to her knees before the Amyrlin, her hands held before her. It seemed as if the smooth rod, not quite like ivory, not quite like glass, weighed more than it should have. There was no sound in the room. The only thing that seemed out of place was the glow around the Amyrlin as she channeled a thin flow of Spirit into the white rod in her hand. "Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will never speak a word that is untrue." The sensation of the air seeming to press against her was... unnerving. Janine felt as if the words that she'd spoken were literally settling into her. "Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will never make any weapon for one man to kill another." The feeling redoubled, making Janine feel as if she'd been sealed within a silk wrapping that was far too tight, leaving her hardly able to breathe. It was not comfortable, to say the least. "Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear 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 gasp escaped from Janine's lips as the oath settled into her along with the other two, sealing her as surely as a stone sealed a tomb. Her breathing was ragged, pressured. How long was this going to last? "It is half done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones," the Amyrlin said, her voice carrying the same dull tone as it had before. "Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah, and all will be done that may be done under the Light." If Janine had thought that kneeling was awkwardly uncomfortable, standing proved to be downright agony. The oaths seemed to keep her stiff and unbending, hardly able to move at all as she curtseyed to the Amyrlin and kissed her Great Serpent ring. With that formality out of the way, Janine looked to each Ajah in turn. The Yellows: healers and curers of diseases. They were the best healers known to the world. However, Janine had never shown any promise in Healing, nor had she ever shown any interest in it. The Blues: Seekers after Causes, with the capital letters audible. They sought to right wrongs and meddle with the affairs of thrones and nations. Not her cup of brandy in the least. The Reds: hunters of male channelers, defending the world from another Breaking. An admirable cause, to be sure, but not very high up on Janine's priority list. The Grays: mediators, arbiters, and negotiators. They sought to create peace and make groups work together. A good member to have in a party, but very far from Janine's nature. The Whites: philosophers, seekers of wisdom. Which meant that they sat around all day thinking deep thoughts. No. The Browns: archivers, librarians, and liable to know the most random things. Useful, but Janine had no desire to spend her entire life with her nose in a book. That only left one option. Her eyes traced the line back to the Ajah she'd long known she was meant for, and they'd known she was meant for them, too. Slowly, the rest of the Ajahs parted, leaving Janine with her choice. Always, she'd been the fighter, the one who refused to quit. She'd been the one who was more likely to lash out. She'd been destined for the Green Ajah since the day she'd strode into the Tower gardens and insulted Lavinya Sedai. Her steps made her choice clearer than any words could have.
  8. OOC: Ok so I’m bringing her back! *is excited* She is about 35 years old at this point. She will be going white. IC: Ara put down her book and stood. Stretching she felt her back crack. She had been sitting to long and her head was filled with the history of the economics in Ebu Dar. It was a dry subject…but she new it was good to know about different countries. She had a Class to teach in about 30 minutes. Gathering her brilliant red hair into a twist she gathered her things together. AS she walked to the classrooms she thought about her time in the tower. She knew he time for raising would be soon…She had spent long years as an accepted and knew from her talks with sisters and the Mistress of Novices that her time would come soon but unexpectedly. She had thought long hours on what Ajah she would join…She still was undecided…but she knew two called to her. Brown or White? It would have to decided upon under meditation and deep contemplation. Arriving to her class she taught about the One Power to a group of Novices. They were just beginning so did not see much success. Even though they were not progressing in the touching of the source, they were intelligent girls..asking good questions and learning facts quickly. She was please with their sponge like brains unlike some classes she had to teach. Some of her classes were gossipy girl who needed a penance for wasting time. As she dismissed her class she picked up and used the power to quickly dust the board. Turning around she was surprised to see the Mistress of Novices standing there.
  9. Aeveryn had finally surrendered to the urge to leave the white tower. Ever since reaching the shawl, she had felt the urge to go ride somewhere. It had been her sense of duty that had kept her in her Ajah‘s quarters though. She had waited for some sensible purpose, some actual reason that would require her to leave the white tower. But her waiting had been fruitless. She had found herself standing at the large windows of her sitting room for hours, staring beyond the vague landscape on the other side of the Erinin and she had felt the longing to go there. Still, it seemed to be a waste of time. Often she stood there and contemplated if her hesitation to leave the tower was based on her trying several times as novice and her being punished severely for her attempts. But then one last summer day she had just done it. Some of her belongings had been packed for some time. That one morning she just left. That had been two weeks ago. It felt good to be on the road again, and she did not mind it very much that she was on her own. Well, someone to talk to like Vera Sedai or Rossa would have been good. But for the moment, she was too consumed with the sensation of freedom to be irritated to much with that. Her horse was a fairly young charger and you could tell the beast was almost as unused to be ridden as she was to ride. Well, she had been a skilled rider, but the last time she had sat longer then an hour atop a horse had been thirty years ago. Sometimes it seemed that had been another life, or a memory of something that had not really happened. But as long as she was calm, her gelding was easy too and she hoped they would manage to get along well enough for now to get used to each other. Aeveryn was slowly making her way down in an south-western direction ever since leaving the tower and as she rode she was searching for signs or landmarks she would remember from when she had taken this route to the tower, but it seemed everything had either changed or her mind was barren. Casting an eye up against the sky she checked to make sure her dark blue coat was near. There were some dark clouds up above and the last blue flecks of sky had passed by early this morning. She had the distinct feeling it would still rain later on. She just hoped it would begin when she had reached some tavern or inn. For a moment she considered her divided shirts and rearrange the dress she wore. She wondered if it had been a mistake to only take along silk for a travel like this. It was a riding gown, but somehow she now wished she had taken some woolen gowns as well. Maybe she was imagining things, but she did feel as if she was utterly overdressed for this undertaking. Rossa had taken her to the dressmakers and while she had been first rather irritated about the gold she was spending - her gold! She had to admit now that she really did think every penny had been worth it. Well she had taken a liking for silk and even for these tiny embroideries. Her main consideration was now that the dress might wear too quickly. She realized she had been engrossed with her dress for too long. And the moment she looked up she realized it had been a grave mistake. A lone rider was up ahead on the otherwise solemn and perfectly empty road. Normally there was no reason to be afraid. She was a woman, all right, but not as she had been when she had come to the white tower. She was a full sister now. She wore the ring, even if she had left her blue fringed shawl in her saddle bags. Leaving that in the tower had never occurred to her. Differently to some other novices and accepted she had never trained with the warders in the yards. But right then, even with Saidar at her disposal, she suddenly wished she had. Her face never changed a fraction, but even without power enhanced sight she was certain the rider up ahead was a whitecloak. Embracing Saidar destroyed her last hopes. She could see the man‘s eyes clearly, and the symbol he carried proudly on his bristling white coat. For an instant she contemplated to run, or try to avoid coming any closer to him. But for that it was too late. She relaxed only a little as she realized she did not yet have the agelessness features to her that would be tell-tale to his kind. Keeping her face smooth she rode on. But silently she prayed her travels were not yet over.
  10. Patrols were definitely one of the worst of the chores assigned. In Serge's opinion, anyway. They required so much...effort. Especially with the bizarre weather recently. It was much too hot to be tromping about. Even with that supposed 'trick' to forget about the heat, he could feel a trickle of sweat roll down his ribs. Wearing wool in this heat. It was worse than summer in the Perfumed Quarter! Well, maybe not worse. Andor didn't have that rather...distinctive...smell of the docks. But back home no one was as foolish as to wear wool during the dead of summer. Black wool. He was brought out of his silent misery by one of the others who had quit moving and put a hand out. Serge looked up and saw what had made the others stop. A gateway was spinning open, but Serge didn't feel saidin being channeled. He scratched at his forearm. This wool itched too. Or maybe it was the bugs. He stared as the gateway opened, and nearly a dozen women on horseback came out. A dozen women. Through a gateway. Aes Sedai. They must be Aes Sedai. Or agents of the Shadow? He had never seen an Aes Sedai before, so he had no idea what they were supposed to look like. But they had appeared from nowhere. Wasn't that proof enough? He grasped saidin immediately, hearing a buzz of conversation from the others, and it seemed that someone was shouting orders, but he couldn't make them out over the general din. He felt others grabbing hold of the True Source as well, and then there was something trying to come between him and the source, sharp, cutting. He lashed out instictively and it shattered. He heard cries from the others and a fireball streaked outward, impossible to tell from whom, and exploded in the middle of the Aes Sedai group. A small knot of men with swords detached themselves from the women and ran at the men from the Black Tower. And then, it was chaos. -Serge Karminov Dedicated of the Black Tower
  11. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the wall. It was still difficult to believe she was nearly at the culmination of her entire life’s purpose for the past fifteen or so years, and that she had come out of it as well as she did. She had come out of it – that was the most important thing. Of course this was dangerous, of course there were horror stories – there always were. And even though Rossa had done her utmost to avoid such talk, she still heard the odd story. After all, forewarned was forearmed. It had been one of the hardest experiences of her life, with the possible exception of fleeing her burning home and leaving her family to the fiery flames, or her arches when she was raised to Accepted. The knock at her door, heralding the arrival of the day’s destiny, and the inevitable walk towards the testing chamber, had made her nervous but she did not show it. She was Altaran. She was High Seat of her House. She was to be Aes Sedai. The chamber was smaller than she thought it would be. Somehow, Rossa had imagined it would be a stately hall rather than the room it was in, deep in the heart of the White Tower. A large ter’angreal was the focus of the room, oval in shape, and the place where her hundred practised weaves would be carried out. Would this be similar to the test for the ring? No, Rossa somehow doubted it would be. It would be hard work and this was not the time for questions. She stepped confidently into the room, embracing the future and what may come of it. An Aes Sedai from each of the seven Ajahs stood in a circle dotted around the room, and the Mistress of Novices stepped forward and turned to face Rossa, beginning the ceremony. She was ready, she could do this – she just had to keep her nerve. “You come in ignorance, Rossa Venye, how would you depart?” “In knowledge of myself.” “For what reason have you been summoned here?” Rossa paused. She knew the wording that would have to follow this question but she was seized by a sudden uncertainty. Who would carry out her vengeance if she were destined to not pass this test? She would be a failure and an example – an utterly humiliated try-hard. She could not let that happen, and her chin came up sharply. “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?” “To wear the shawl.” That was the aim of this, after all. The next words Rossa heard instructed her to remove her clothes and begin the test by entering the ter’angreal. She would be strong. Clad in the light, Rossa walked forward proudly. …flicker… She opened her eyes to see a small room with some clothes neatly laid out on a single cot. They looked to be her size as well, which was nice. Rossa dressed quickly and walked to a spot that looked meaningful; at least, to her it looked meaningful. A loud banging at the door heralded the first of the tests; accompanied by angry shouts that she couldn’t hide, that she would be found and the men would enjoy her soon enough. Disdain. It hadn’t helped. The door exploded inwards in a mass of splinters and large men walked in the room before she could do anything about beginning the first weave. One of them grabbed her arm roughly and it was all Rossa could do to wrench it free as she whirled to face him. Another was coming at her from behind and she panicked, running to the other side of the room. She had no weapons, no dignity, no nothing! A chair stood close to the bed, and Rossa took the initiative and lifted it in front of her, stepping on it. At least she could kick them in the face now. That’s not the point of all this. It was an odd epiphany of realities meeting, and the realisation of her situation. Rossa quickly embraced Saidar and wove the first weave she had practised so hard at. She knew them all by rote, but performing them under this kind of duress would be difficult indeed. As she completed the first weave, the men vanished and Rossa looked around, startled. Nothing had happened except that she had accomplished the first part of her test. Gathering herself, she left the small room and went on to the next challenge. And challenged she had been. Spiders, rivals that tried to strip her and make her sing in front of a figure that looked like the Queen of Altara naked, Trollocs attempting to overrun her … lots of trials that somehow, miraculously, Rossa managed to overcome. There had been a moment when she thought of giving up, but ruthlessly she suppressed it. At the time she had been covered with choking vines, her hands only just able to make tiny gestures to weave Saidar to the requisite form. With her success, she had dropped to the floor, gasping for breath and shivering. Names could not hurt her; she scarcely felt the abrasions on her body or the parts that would bruise. Her eyebrow was half singed at one point by one of the Trollocs she had thrown a fireball at – it had charged her and was almost on top of her when Rossa had been able to finish the weave and momentum carried the thing forward. A hasty hand batted out flames, but not before half her eyebrow had burnt off. Oddly it was seeing her rivals that forced Rossa to calmness. The real reasons of becoming an Aes Sedai to help people and discover as much as she could of what was lost or in danger of being lost made Rossa realise these Court butterflies were useless creatures, and it rekindled her dignity. Imagining she was being prepared for a presentation to the Queen, or worse yet, her mother’s inspecting eye, made Rossa focus harder on her task. It had done the trick. The final parts of the one hundredth weave fell into place, and Rossa knew she could return. She had been grazed, dazed and was completely amazed that she had succeeded this part. She stepped back into the chamber. …flicker…
  12. Laughing, Aran handed over the bottle to Lachlan to drink from. It had been an eventful day first with their arrival, and there had been other issues as well. The man’s ‘advisors’ had certainly protested, or tried to until Lachlan had stated infront of everyone that he was making them his new guard. That and there would be a council tomorrow, which his puppetmasters were basing their plotting from what had been eavesdropped. Tonight, at least, was safe. While the others hadn’t really cared to become acquainted with the male channeler, Aran found himself taking a liking to him. He didn’t seem to have a mean bone in him, and he seemed content to simply have someone to talk to he didn’t fear. So, Aran didn’t mind keeping tabs on him, in fact under different circumstances they could have been friends. Problem was that as the hours had passed and the moon had started to rise, that’s exactly what was happening. Outside the tent, there was only a person or two keeping watch, the Tower Guard of course. That was their duty, and acting a role or not the Aes Sedai with them weren’t fit for it. They didn’t know how to push through the boredom like they had learned day after day for years on the wall. But they had kept things under control at least, they hadn’t drawn suspicion to themselves like Aran had feared they might. “Hey hey hey, give that back, my turn for a swig.†Snatching the bottle back from Lachlan, Aran proceeded to help himself to just that before speaking. “So what did you do before all of this anyway? Scribe? Farmer?†Aran Tower Guard
  13. Looking upon his band of brigands, Aran was rather proud of the job they'd managed to achieve. They'd managed to chip away most of the sheen and polish the people had. That had been a particular achievement with the Aes Sedai, of which Aran was thoroughly pleased with himself. Oh, other people had done the majority of the work, but he'd overseen it all and was quite happy to take the credit for it. After all, he was the source of all good things. "Well my little troop, we've traveled far enough and, being about half a mile away from the camp as we are, I wanted to say a couple of words. You all look terrible, so you've done quite a good job. Remember that when we get there, you don't let anyone push you around. Don't wander off by your own either, and in particular, don't even touch the one power." Grinning, Aran continued. "Of course, there is one final thing that hasn't been done, we have yet to pick my wench for the next few days. After careful consideration, deliberation and divination, I've decided on..." Aran pointed to Muirenn. "...My little cherry over there. Now that thats done, we can continue. And remember, don't let anyone push you around." It was late morning by the time they reached the camp. As far as such camps went, it was actually rather organised. People clearly sat with their own groups though, and looking as they were they weren't bothered as they walked in. A bottle in hand, since they'd started walking, Aran had steadily worked his way through the better half of it. Not even tipsy, that wasn't how he was acting. Pointing with the bottle, he started giving orders beginning with Rosheen. "You! I want a camp set up, see to it woman. The rest of you go with her except... You, you and you. No need to look at me like that, you can come along too, but find another one of these bottles and bring it along." Having pointed out Daemon, Cairma and Muirenn, the last was Maegan who for all intents and purposes was his little sister for their little deceit. Slipping an arm around Muirenn's waist and letting his hand hang low, Aran led their little troop in search of their quarry. It didn't take them long to find the rather large tent that their Bandit King called home. The guards looked none pleased at their approach either. "Get lost." "I'm here to see him, my band have decided to join up." "Congratulations, he's in a meeting, go away." Letting his arm fall from Muirenn, Aran took a couple of steps forward with a winning smile. "Get out of my way, now." "I'm not going to te-" The man sank to his knees with his hands buried in his crotch, and as the other one scrabbled for his sword Aran punched the man in the throat. Smiling brightly as he turned to his fellows, Aran took the bottle Maegan was holding with a grin. "Come along." Stepping inside the tent quickly, Aran watched as a table of five men turned and looked at him. "Which one of you is the king?" "That'd be me, who are you?" "Catch." Tossing the unopened bottle to the man who spoke, the man caught it easily enough as Aran continued. "Your guards are really rude, they wouldn't let me in even though I came bearing gifts." Taking a spare seat at the table, Aran threw his feet up as he grinned. "My name's Arry, and these people are some of my band, the rest of which are making camp outside. I was wondering, how much money am I going to get if I fight for you?" Looking over at Muirenn, Aran crooked a finger at her. "Over here my cherry." Aran Tower Guard
  14. It was the trees under the pale moon that awoke Lillian from hear dreamlike trance. For the past two days, she had traveled with her mentor ever since her punishment had been given. For having escaped the White Tower and Tar Valon in the night, she had earnt herself a place at the farm until the White Tower deemed her ready to return. Yet that was hardly the reason why she was lost in her thoughts so much that the past two days that she hadn't even realised they were close until they'd turned off the main road and made for the treeline they were now entering. Passing into the woods, she couldn't help but feel a bit disorientated. The moonlight broke through the foliage occasionally, disrupting her thoughts as they tried to return to what had dominated them for the past two weeks. Mother... Father... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... It was the cobblestone walls that won her interest back after perhaps twenty minutes of scattered and fragmented thoughts. Three feet high, they ran either side of the trail that they followed. Behind these walls, newly tilled fields could be seen though what they were sown with Lillian couldn't say. The only thing she could make out was an apple orchard to her right a bit further down the road yet by the time she did so, a much more important sight caught her. The farmhouse, the place where she would now live. It looked no different from any other farm, though the face of the building was broad and rimmed by a verandah that ran its entire length. On it she could make out the dark outlines of a few chairs, though the focus shifted as they turned left and towards the stable. A two storey building, it loomed high yet strangely enough the doors were open and a light came from within. The reason for it became obvious as they crossed the threshold, a lady awaited them inside. There was no other way to describe it in Lillian's mind as she looked at the woman openly in the same detached manner she had viewed everything else so far which betrayed she wasn't entirely there. The woman had curly light brown hair that came to her shoulders, and as Lillian dismounted she realised that she had a few inches on the other woman. Yet the woman was much more solid, presumably from work on the farm, lending her more physical presence. Half hearing Halvie Sedai's command, Lillian took the reins of both horses and led them away to the stalls. By the time both of the horses were unsaddled and both settled down, both her mentor and the stranger were gone. Confused, she hefted the saddlebags and carried them to the table near the entrance. Laying them down there, she sat on the stool nearby and quickly forgot where she was, remembering where she had been... Looking up as she felt someone watching her, Lillian looked unwaveringly at the woman who had returned, though her mentor was not with her. Directions were easy to follow, though between her thoughts and the weariness that had manifested itself over whatever time had passed while she'd been in the stable, she was only noticed passing through a couple of doors before she found herself before a bed. She didn't even need to be told. Slipping out of her clothes down to her shift, unaware as to whether the woman was still there or not, she crawled under the covers. Rest eluded her, though for how long she could not say, nor counted. Yet even the worst despair can be engulfed in the merciful embrace of sleep, as it was now. Lillian Tremina Novice of the White Tower
  15. Ooc: This is an off-timeline, showcase demonstration of the Division’s talent. All members of the White Tower Div are encouraged to post. Use your imagination as to what happens and if you run short of plot, check out this post for ideas; anything is possible in a Bubble of Evil. The thread lasts one week from Monday 12th of June. * On the stroke of midnight the world changed. A thousand stars glittered in the skies like a painter’s masterwork. They shed a pale and sharply silver light over the dreaming world beneath them; starlight fell across the great swell of mountains and the sweep of fields, all shrouded in darkness that softened crude edges and pooled shadow in every hollow. Far below the swathe of stars a city slumbered in as close to silence as such a great place ever got. The tall white walls that had created its other title shone serene in the stillness, and behind them, like a ghost in the night, rose a great white stronghold. Around its massive base only shadows stirred. The occasional light glimmered up and down its length in testament to its nightly business. Long into the black watches of the night the Tower stood sentinel over its white city. Even as the hour chimed midnight, twelve slow strokes of a great bell, the change stole in unnoticed. No whisper heralded its coming, nor did anything perceptible change which those left awake could put their finger on; but any lights left still burning wavered, just a little, and perhaps one or two who burned the midnight oil were given a moment’s pause at which to wonder. In this new age of men and machines some instincts had lain dormant for centuries. Relics of older times, they stirred now in response to a hundred subtle signals … the lights’ tremble, the midnight hour, perhaps a fractional cooling in the temperature … and all across the city the change moved on. Light sleepers stirred. Babes in their cradles began to cry. Shadows in the street outside scuttled for cover. Shut away behind several layers of stone and wood, the oblivious and the weary slept on unwitting. At thirteen minutes past midnight, though few owned the complex and expensive mechanisms needed to time so exactly, every light in the city winked out. No guttering of flames, no dimming of lanterns: one moment light, the next moment darkness. Down in the city someone started screaming. The thin sound bounced in among stone houses and dwindled. In some streets mist began to boil up from the flagstones themselves. Dense and white and ghostlike, those creeping tendrils twined round houses and stole up among the graceful bridges that crossed back and forth across streets, tapped at windows. The mist muffled a little of the sound, confused anyone who stepped out unwary into the street and some might have sworn that it hid other things; shadows, perhaps, or forms that surely only legend could have brought forth. Sounds of panic and chaos rose above the clamouring city and … … clocks stopped ticking. … thirteen children vanished, snatched from their cradles and never seen again. … a cathedral of classic architecture some centuries old started to fail. Stone slipped. Wood creaked. A spire some ten feet high slid off the roof and shattered on the street stones far below like a dropped glass. … an innkeeper stepped outside to find that where a proud white banner had once flown from the chimney, now a black banner hung dead and dark in its place. … a shop of finely blown glassware resounded to a succession of cracks. Inside each piece in turn was exploding, from largest to smallest, and when an unwary someone opened the door a huge shard ripped out their throat. … all the flowers in the city started to grow at a manic pace, spilled blooms and thorns everywhere, and creepers formed a dense and prickly mat on the ground. … the first man to venture out into the mist got swallowed up in an instant; moments later half a dozen versions wearing his face exited in different directions. … cells beneath the city opened to release a hundred criminals. And still the change moved on. It was a night of madness, of mayhem and mystery; a night when all normal rules were cast aside; a night in which fate, that great guiding hand, twisted together the most bizarre and disparate threads. In this night legends would fall and new stories rise, courage and determination could fail forever, and the onslaught of the world’s evil stepped up another notch. Yet lest anyone falter, all isolated and stricken by fear in the midst of this disorder, let it be remembered that the Tower had gone on standing for countless centuries and seen out countless hard times. Kings had quailed from the wrath of this great white beacon in the night; and even in this bitter hour, driven into a path of desperation, all was not lost. Let it never be said that the fabled Tower could not weather this storm too … nor that it was short of heroes. Hail to the Tower!
  16. The past few days had been one of frustration in many ways. After the party had found a relatively safe place to camp, Aran and Rosheen had gone scouting ahead to see what the strength was of the male channeler’s forces. Far from him having ten to twenty men of his own, the man had been busy since the party had been dispatched from Tar Valon and had amassed up to a hundred armed followers. Furthermore, the man was calling himself the ‘Bandit King’, either he had a wonderful sense of humour or he was most certainly insane. Not that it had stopped the followers massing, and on the way back to their own camp they had seen fresh tracks, even nearly run into a small band of five or so men making their way to the Bandit King’s camp. Their original plan of ambush and grab was well and truly out the window now. They numbered ten guards and six Aes Sedai, nowhere near the strength required to topple such a force of men. The fact that the local lords had taken no action also bespoke of how interested they would be in committing their retainers to such an attack. Ten Tower Guard against a hundred bandits, Aran had no intention of playing to such odds. While he knew he was rather lucky, at ten apiece they could simply be run down, especially since the quick glimpse they had gotten of the camp revealed they had a number of horses of their own. Open confrontation wouldn’t be feasible. There was another option, though it would no doubt be quite difficult in its own right. Not everyone had his sort of training, especially the Aes Sedai would be a problem. They learnt all their lives to stand out, even their faces were a problem when it came to that. For the past day and a half, he’d been figuring out ways to get around it, but he also had problems with other issues of the plan he’d been thinking of. Namely, it would mean he would have to lead. Something he most certainly did not wish to do, but there it was. No one else in the party would be nearly conversant enough in the manners and the how to do of the role he was thinking of except him. Not that it didn’t present a number of highly amusing possibilities, but he didn’t like the idea of being responsible for everyone. He doubted Rosheen was enjoying it that much either, but she ‘was’ more responsible than himself. They were perhaps only a few hours away from the camp when Aran decided to break the silence. “If we can’t beat them, perhaps we should join them.†The trip to Murandy had been… eventful, to say the least. Rosheen had had some trouble keeping the Tower Guards under control, but after a stern talking to, they at least had been able to see sense. Aran was an entirely different matter, of course. Even the Aes Sedai had been easier to lead then her friend. Not that he particularly bothered her, but his behaviour towards the white haired Aes Sedai had meant that she was hard to lead, and that was a definite thorn in her side. Still, all these troubles were irrelevant when one took into account their current situation. Out numbered by a small bandit army lead by a male channeller, who wasn’t aware of their presence yet, but for how long? Rosheen found herself staring glumly into the distance, thinking of her options. If she could be sure that the Aes Sedai present could shield the man before he noticed they were in the camp… if she hadn’t seen the way their opponent had a watch around the camp… if she didn’t have freshly promoted Tower Guards in her team, then she would have chosen to attack at night. Kill as many as they could before the enemy realized they were there, have the Aes Sedai capture the channeller. Simple, if a little crude. Effective. But that wasn’t going to happen, because there was obviously someone in the camp who knew what he was doing. The entire situation reeked of failure, and Rosheen would have none of that on her first command. Aran startled her out of her thoughts. “Huh? Join them? What are you…†she shook her head the moment the meaning of the suggestion sank in. “That wouldn’t work.†She laughed then, amused by the thought of having Aes Sedai pose as bandits. “They reek of power and nobility.†There was no point in mentioning who she was talking about. Every single Tower Guard in their group could pose as a ruffian, but the Aes Sedai… “Even if we found a way to hide their ageless faces, they’d still act like a bunch of pretentious wenches. And we’ve both seen that the bandits are nowhere near drunk enough most of the time to fall for that.†Laughing at Rosheen’s thoughts about the ability of the Aes Sedai to hide themselves, he had to admit that was true. Still, he had been thinking about that. “Maybe, but given a week to work it out of them, it’d be possible. Show them how to hold a blade, or if they’re completely useless have them play the role of wenches or camp followers. They can tie illusions to their faces, and we could do more with the right pigments if someone got close enough that the illusion failed. It’d allow us to keep them close so we had them under our guard, and ready for when we snatched the Bandit King as he has dubbed himself.†“Their attitudes are going to be a problem though. Especially Muirenn’s attitude. If you hadn’t riled her as much as you did during the trip here… but that’s water under the bridge.†Rosheen frowned a bit. “Still, that doesn’t solve all our problems. Word may have travelled this way, and at least someone in this camp can count. Sixteen travelers, lead by some woman with weird hair? I doubt they’ll put much faith in coincidences.†So if they did this, she wouldn’t be able to lead them when they got to the camp. Her eyes narrowed as she glanced at Aran. “We could of course put someone else in charge. For show, at least. Someone who knows how to act like a thug.†“She had it coming†Aran muttered though his thoughts were elsewhere, namely on the suggestion that he lead. “If I were to lead, it couldn’t just be for show. I would need the authority, and not just from you but from Muirenn as well. There won’t be any room for second guessing once we’re in there, and if I gave an order it’d have to be followed. Especially if I would be talking us into the camp. No room for them to assert their rank in public or private.†Rosheen glared at him. “That’s not going to happen, Aran. You’ll get leadership, and we’ll let Muirenn and the Aes Sedai think you’re in charge, but when things go wrong, you answer to me. I’ll even argue with you in the camp when there’s something I don’t agree with. Have you ever seen a group of mercenaries that agreed with each other every step of the way? Besides that, we have too many women. Coming in as two groups that joined together no more than a few weeks beforehand would explain that, and any strange behaviour we might show.†She didn’t seem to be taking the thought of him asserting control too well at all. “A mercenary captain, or bandit for that matter, leads by strength of character and their sword arm. People might disagree with a captain, but if they disobey they are made to obey, or they’re alternately killed or thrown out of the group. We could argue in public with that explanation, but the decision would have to be mine in the end or any credibility I had as leader would be gone and our cover with it. All it would take is one slip, and it’d be all over.†“You’re forgetting the fact that we’re going to pose as a freshly formed mercenary group. You’re going to have command because your group will consist of six men who look like they can fight, and two women. Mine will consist of five women who look like they can fight, and three women who look about ready to cry when they break a nail. That’s what gives you power in their eyes, and when we’re in the camp, I will support you because you’re the evil I know, as opposed to the evil I don’t know.†Rosheen smirked at Aran. “It’ll be like having a pack of rabid dogs at your heels at all times, but at least no one will ever see us as a cohesive group that can threaten their bandit king.†Thinking it over, Aran struggled with it. He didn’t like the idea of having someone challenging his authority if he were to play the role, mainly because when he had played the role he’d decisively dealt with any questions over leadership. On the otherhand, it was doable, though his role would change somewhat. There was also the question of explaining how the group of women had come to be, though female mercenaries weren’t entirely unknown. “Alright then. But challenge me publically in the camp and I will hit you, I’m warning you in advance.†Grinning at Rosheen, a thought occurred to him. “We’re going to have to exercise the Aes Sedai as well, no more riding horses for them. In fact, we won’t want to take our horses with us into the camp I think. They’re too fine to pass for the steeds that’d be there. We can always steal horses for ourselves when its time to make a run for it anyway and that’s less for any pursuit to use. But then, I’m getting ahead of myself. How do you plan on convincing Muirenn to do whats best?†“Hit me in public and you’ll feel it a month afterwards.†Rosheen said, giving Aran a mock punch in the arm. She wouldn’t go that far in public. She wanted this to work, after all. “And don’t worry about Muirenn. She either tags along our way, or she stays behind. I am not going to risk the lives of ten tower guards and six Aes Sedai just because some crone can’t get over herself.†“Sounds good, and we have at least a couple of hours for me to think about my speech.†Catching Rosheen’s look, Aran laughed. “Oh come on, I’m giving an acceptance speech. Most of them have a bad impression of me anyway, so no harm no foul if I’m the one telling them that they’re going to be learning to walk and to act the wench. And to think, when all is said and done you’ll be salvation to them when you take back leadership officially, make the journey back for you a lot easier.†“I’d object, but…†Rosheen shrugged. “I’ll just tell them they have to listen to you as much as they can stand, and expect to get slapped if they don’t obey and grovel.†She didn’t think they’d get a lot of trouble from the Tower Guards though. Maybe Daemon would have some problems keeping his sword sheathed around a male channeller, but she didn’t think he’d go too far. He wouldn’t endanger the mission. “So should we swing by the town to get some paints and suitable clothes?†“Nah, wait until Muirenn agrees first, then we can use the tower’s purse strings to buy what we need. I don’t want to spend my coin to then find out Muirenn won’t agree, because without her approval we won’t be able to take the Aes Sedai into the camp we’ll need. I think we’ll need to damage our weapons too, put some chips in them and such. Poor enough to not be able to afford whetstones...†And so the conversation continued until they reached the camp in the early evening. Slapping Rosheen on the shoulder for good luck as the woman dismounted, he took her horse’s reins and went to the picket before dismounting himself. Securing both the horses, Aran wandered over and saw Cairma and Daemon along with Maegan and another Aes Sedai he didn’t know. Taking his ease as he laid down by them, he felt a foot nudge him. Raising an eyebrow at Cairma, it seemed she had questions. “Well?†“Well what?†“What did you find out?†“I don’t like riding horses. Ow! Alright.†Rubbing his rib where Cairma had prodded him none too gently, he spoke of what he and Rosheen had seen while they had been scouting. He chose not to mention what they’d discussed on the way back though, that was up to Rosheen and Muirenn to sort out. Aran Tower Guard
  17. Midnight found The Yards the site of a phantom concerto as crickets played their mournful tunes to whoever happened to be awake at that hour. The clack-clack of a late training session provided the percussion, teacher and student moving from one form to the next in different degrees of expertise and grace. A bull frog called to his mate from his hiding place beneath a bridge crossing a carefully landscaped pond and the wind whistled across the reeds on the far end. In the barracks, trainees dreamed fitfully as their minds danced to the music of the summer night. On the walls, a masked woman found solace in the starry sky, lost in deep thought, and a man lay awake in bed feeding dark desires into the Flame and Void. Every ear that the music touched was caught in silent reverie, all except for two sets. Two sets heard a completely different tune. "I will not be treated like a child who was raised only this morning, Commander," Sheena said flatly from her seat in front of Alin's solid oak desk. The room was well-lit, though there was no disguising the late hour. She hadn't slept much in the days since she'd begun planning this expedition and the note signed by Sariene informing her that a Tower Guard had been assigned to travel with her was the icing on an exhausting cake. Despite her weariness and frustration, the Blue held her temper in check for once as she regarded the Master at Arms levelly. "Again, your concern and that of the Hall are both appreciated, but I have worn the shawl for longer than you have breathed air. I will not be needing an escort on this trip, nor do I have the time or energy to babysit some runt with his mother's kitchen knife." "I am afraid it is not my decision to make, Sheena Sedai." He spoke the honorary with an emphasis that could have meant anything or nothing at all. Sheena ignored it, her mind intent on resolving this issue before her scheduled departure the following morning at dawn. "I have my orders and I intend to follow them. For the last time, there's nothing to be done." Her lips thinned, the only indication her annoyance was quickly turning into frustrated anger. The hold on her temper slipped, only slightly but enough to heat her cheeks. "If you wish to take it up with the Hall, that's your business. I do suggest you refrain from waking them at this hour." Sheena opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke over her. "With all do respect, Aes Sedai, there is nothing left to discuss. If you will excuse me, I am going to be." He stood and motioned towards the doors, his face carved from the hardest of stones. Sheena sat motionless, her eyes icy and her face white and devoid of signs of the flaring temper inside. "Your orders are ridiculous and I will not be inconvenienced by them. You may choose whomever you like to carry out this preposterous act of protection, but do not think I will forget this insult to my character." She cut off her words with all the spite she felt, her indignity flushing her cheeks. Sheena stood from her seat, not sparing the wool-headed buffoon of a man who served as the Master at Arms another look. The concert was cutoff abruptly at the sound of a door slamming followed by muttered curses as Sheena made her was back to the Tower in a fury. She stormed past the few men and women awake at that hour, servants in their livery and Aes Sedai or Tower initiates running some late night errand. The few glances directed at her back were those of people long accustomed to her stormy personality. She ignored those, too, as she headed to her rooms in the Blue Quarters. When she finally lay in bed, she stared at the ceiling until the gray of predawn crept in. She hadn't slept a wink. "Light, please tell me Alin gave the assignment to a mute," she croaked before getting out of bed. "This is going to be a long trip." A sea of dried grass and parched shrubs extended for miles to either end of the River Erinin as Ella's Rose made its way south. The mid-summer sun beat down on its crew and passengers with the fervor of high noon and doing nothing to help with the seasickness that still plagued a few of those unaccustomed to traveling on water. An occasional breeze stirred, doing little more than rustling a loose-fitting shirt. One of the sailors shouted suddenly, bringing Sheena back from her rumination and to the scorching reality of her surroundings. Serena stood beside her, the hood of her pastel-colored cloak pulled up over her head to provide some protection from the sun. While the heat didn't touch either of them, they were both subject to sunburns like anyone else and Sheena's talents in Healing were little better than those her friend. Feeling Sheena's eyes on her, Serena looked over and smiled warmly but said nothing. The two had been friends on one level or another when Sheena was raised only shortly after Serena herself and Sheena was glad to have the woman's company. She smiled back and turned her attention to unscrewing the lid off of her waterskin before taking a drink. Serena's warder stood close by watching everywhere and everything that moved and Rosheen sat opposite of them leaning against a barrel sharpening a knife. Thera was a dutiful woman so far as Sheena had seen, though the two had not spoken much. The way Sheena saw it, a Warder's place was with her bondmate and not conversing with other Aes Sedai. For many years now, she had had only limited interactions with Warders and Thera was no exception. There was more to her aloofness, she was sure, but that was a line of thought Sheena did not wish to go down. Rosheen, on the other hand, did not belong in their party anymore than the red-faced street rat Alin had chosen to serve as her protector, not in Sheena's mind. From the young woman's own aloofness, she was very much aware of how Sheena felt. Sheena had made it obvious to the Tower Guards that they were unwelcome and if they had been offended by her unapologetic stance, they did well to hide it thus far. The White Tower was still within sight when Sheena had put them in their place, telling them exactly what was expected of them. The boy, Aran, was below deck and it was just as well. He had a glint in his eye that Sheena had seen in any number of annoying Novices who found it difficult to shed the airs instilled in their noble roots. If anyone would be trouble, it was him; Rosheen was just another annoyance. She had been allowed to travel with them on the understanding that she had business in Whitebridge. What she would do once they reached that point was none of their concern. In the moments after the first shouts announcing their imminent arrival in Aringill, the ship had burst to life as the crew prepared the ship. Sheena said a silent prayer of thanks as she made her way to the room she shared with Serena to fetch her things, grateful that she had only emptied her stomach the first night they were on water. She could remember days when her stomach rumbled at the very sight of water. To think that she was able to make it all the way to Aringill without any major incident was a good sign. She wasn't sure she could bear the humiliation of clutching the deck railings day and night. What she was sure of, though, was that she was anxious to be standing on dry land and the sooner the better. OOC: A bit long, but it got us pretty far. We're finally underway! Post away ladies and gents! Edit: James here, was on west board but meant to be south the way the map is currently drawn. Sorry Cale, would've told ya but ya'd already raced off :)
  18. Annya stared at the great tower that seemed to dwarf all other building near by. She had longed to be here, even when she had run from home and an impending marriage to a man she didn’t even know. Now face to face with her dreams she was scared and hesitant to put one foot in front of the other. She had longed for adventure, and adventure she had while getting from her home on a farm outside of Whitebridge to here. She had traveled alone and mostly under the cover of night when possible. She had ridden in several peddlers’ wagons in exchange for fixing meals over camp fires and in backs of haymows when she was tired. She had long walked through the shoes she had on her feet when she left, and the dress that she now wore was the only one left that was not full of holes. It would have been a feastday dress back home, but here among the people in Tar Valon it looked like homespun rags. Annya clutched the bundle in her arms like a security blanket. It was all she had left of home and fond memories. In it included two other dresses that had been worn through, the shoes that were shambles and the stockings that she no longer wore because her feet were bare on the paving stones. She had the map she had taken and several books in her parcel as well. They were her treasures, but now looking at the Tower before her she considered them garbage. Excitement prickled along her neck as she watched as soldiers crossed the bridge that she was standing next to and entered into one of the gates. Well, Annya, you have come this far. It would be a shame to turn back when your dreams are so close at hand. Make the step. A small pep talk to herself and Annya let the parcel drop from her arms and watched it splash into the river. It sank from view as Annya straightened her shoulders and took one step forward to the destiny she hoped to have. The wind caught and fanned out the long red hair like a banner behind her, whipping the cream colored dress about her legs. A smile played over her face lighting up her green eyes in anticipation. She had come far, but there was still farther to go. ************* She walked up the white marbled steps and into a chamber filled with people. Many were in white dresses some had bands on the bottom, some did not. Annya absently wondered if that meant anything. She fought hard to keep her hands still beside her as she waited for someone to come to her. A tap on her shoulder almost made her jump and scream, but then she found herself looking at another girl not much older than her own eighteen summers. She smiled at nodded. “Sorry, I am a bit… on edge.†“It’s understandable. Most people are when they first come to the Tower.†The girl with the deep brown hair and eyes said as she smiled. “Now, may I ask your business with the White Tower?†Annya nodded and hoped that she didn’t get laughed out of the Tower for this answer. “I want to see… I want to be an Aes Sedai, and I want to see if I can. My name is Annya Rowan and I come from Whitebridge…†The girl wrote her name on the tablet she carried and nodded, still smiling at her. “Fewer and fewer people come every year wanting that, at least that’s what every sister says in one lesson or another. Well, Annya Rowan, it looks like we need to see if you can even learn. I’ll take you to the Mistress of Novices. She’ll know what to do from there. Follow me.†The girl turned and glided towards one of the corridors off the main hall. Annya hustled to keep up, brushing at her skirts and hoping that no one noticed her bare feet. The hallways were a maze and Annya was glad of the girl that was guiding her. They were silent as they walked down the halls and then stopped in front of a solid looking closed door. The girl smoothed her dress then her hair and knocked.
  19. A scatter of solitary stars up in the sky, touched here and there with fading tints of rose, heralded messages flying to several different folk. Like the spider at the heart of a great web Sirayn twitched the strings she had tied to people of ambition, cunning and wit, devious folk who, like her, would stop at nothing to achieve their ends; and obediently, small spiders in turn, waiting in her shadow to realise their full promise, those summoned came to her call. The seeds of secrecy scattered far across a citadel just starting to fall into slumber. Scarcely a whisper stirred among the ivory white corridors, a spell of footsteps in the silence, a shift of shadow maybe while folk flitted across open spaces, nothing to warn those who lived nearby. One by one the recipients of her terse messages entered her quarters. Installed in a soft white chair near the fire Sirayn watched with a cool grey gaze, fingers lightly steepled, while they came to her; from the youngest only a few decades to the shawl, to some whom she had known for a century and more; Green Ajah in the most part, with a trio to make up other colours, they stood for a great sweep of generations and causes. Their loyalties lay with her now, of course, or otherwise she would not have involved them with this at all. The mission she had in mind for them was not illegal as such; but it required a certain discretion of which she deemed few truly capable, not to mention another uncommon quality, being trustworthy. Few would dare to interfere in her business at all of course. Tradition dictated otherwise and her own standing was strong. Nevertheless, it was with a certain satisfaction that Sirayn noted the arrival of all those sisters she had summoned, from Domani youngsters Lavinya and Christine to Serena, once of Saldaea, Alyria the Mayener and of course her Cairhienin counterpart, Aramina sur Dulciena. Sisters. A slight inclination of her head, fractionally more than she would have granted those of similar rank had they not been sworn to her. Their courage in breaking long held custom deserved respect and, besides, one did not scorn those few one could trust. "Thank you for attending me this evening. Take a seat if you will." A careless gesture indicated chairs set out ready for their gathering. Fire leaped bright and blazing in the grate; its heat warded against the night's cool. "I have a certain task which I intend to trust to you all." Sirayn cut straight to business, though her gaze remained just as sharp on those gathered to her. "There is work to be done over near Cairhien. Something which, shall we say, requires the kind of judgement only Aes Sedai can exercise properly. I shall not be leaving Tar Valon myself and I think you will perform this task commendably in my absence, in which, I trust, you will not disappoint me." "I imagine everyone will know that the city of Cairhien," briefly she looked toward her fellow Cairhienin, both as composed as ever, "is currently held by Aiel and other madmen purporting to be pawns of the Dragon Reborn. The truth of that is open to question; however, what is indisputable is that strife and hardship has hold beneath the Topless Towers at this moment, resulting in a great many refugees. Near this city they have been massing and causing some difficulty to the local town folk. There is, possibly, some danger of an uprising. I am tasking you with investigating this refugee camp, the problems within and restoring some measure of calm to the region. I need not remind you that the whole place is swarming with dangers which may not scruple to target Aes Sedai. This is your official mission. Should anyone trouble you I trust you can think of other reasons. "You will also be visiting a holding in the area. If my information is correct, there is a woman at the Rashad Ranch who is skilled in certain helpful substances; drugs, herbs and poisons, if I may be so blunt, in the supply and use of which I am greatly interested. You will locate her, negotiate with her for a supply of whatever poisons and so on she will agree to send, and otherwise see what you can learn from the area. This is your real mission. You will not fail it." Briefly she paused measuring the responses of those present. These were good women, some harder than others, a few highly skilled at trades she did not herself practise, and all useful to her cause. "The party will be led by Aramina Sedai." She had not yet confided in the other woman exactly what she intended, in her experience it was best to conceal all from Cairhienin as much as possible given their subtlety and cunning, but as expected Aramina sur Dulciena gave no outward sign of startlement. She rather thought this one would make it into the Hall before long. She had that marked out for some others gathered here as well; not that she could overtly place those in other Ajahs, but there were more discreet moves she could make, and lack of caution could frustrate her plans as easily as any other. "Are there any questions?"
  20. Lavinya was alone in her room, practising the weaves that she would have to perform in the test. Each of the hundred weaves had to be performed correctly, and in order. So far she had only succeeded in successfully completing them once. Her room mate Evaida, one of her only true friends in the tower, had helped her, doing whatever she could to distract her as she channelled. She sighed, as she fumbled a weave, and released the source. She was never going to pass the testing. Light, she didn’t think she would be able to bear the humiliation of being sent from the tower, not good enough to become an Aes Sedai. She shuddered. She MUST get this right. Chewing her lip, she embraced the source, only to be interrupted by a knock at the door. Rising, she opened the door, to be greeted by her mentor, Elyssa. A brief flash of panic overcame her, as Elyssa led her to the basement for her testing. Light, she was not ready, she could not do it! As though sensing her unease, Elyssa shot her a reassuring look, and Lavinya firmed her resolve. She had worked too long and hard for this moment, she would not turn back now, and she would not fail. She would have her power and position, as an Aes Sedai. Upon entering the basement, Lavinya noticed that one sister from each Ajah was there, forming a ring around the room. Nynaeve’s voice rang out, loud and clear. “Attend.†All the sisters gathered together, and the ceremony began. "You come in ignorance Lavinya Morganen, how would you depart?" Lavinya swallowed, before replying. She had been through this many times, and knew how to respond, and what was expected of her. "In Knowledge of Myself." She was somewhat disgusted to hear how much her voice shook. She straightened her spine. She could do this. "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?" Lavinya lifted her chin and steeled her resolve. "To wear the shawl." Her voice rang with a confidence she tried to feel. She then proceeded to strip, leaving behind her banded Accepted dress and underclothes, and her Great Serpent Ring, which she carefully laid on top. The sister’s present activated the ter’angreal. She was instructed to complete the 101 weaves, no matter what happened, and to be strong. Elyssa nodded slightly, and Lavinya took courage from her mentor. She could do this. Slowly she stepped forward, into the blinding light of the ter’angreal. Blinking, she found herself in a dim hallway, lit only by a few scattered wall sconces, which cast eerie shadows across the tiled floor. Looking down, she discovered with shock that she was naked. Picturing a sheer emerald gown, she grinned when it appeared. It had been so long since she was able to wear her native Domani clothes, rather than the suffocating white of novice and Accepted. Accepted. That word caused a flicker of recognition, of why she was there. She stepped forward along the corridor, towards the faint light at the end. Emerging into the sunlight, she raised a hand against the harsh light. Across a meadow was a pointed star. Remembering what it was she must to, she stepped on it and began to weave without a second thought. Carefully she wove together a jumble of air, fire and spirit, chewing her lower lip as she concentrated. Something in her peripheral caught her attention and she turned, drawing in a surprised gasp. A large wolf was approaching, eyeing her hungrily. It snarled, vicious white teeth flashing. Forcing down her panic, Lavinya finished the weave, and saw the second star, behind the animal. It crouched, as though to leap, and she hurriedly wove air, stilling the beast in mid air with invisible bonds. Without a second thought she rushed past the animal to the second star. Once on it she began the next weave, an intricate web of water and spirit, with earth twined between. She jumped when she felt the first bite between her shoulder blades and whirled, almost dropping the weave. Light, it was only her second! She could see nothing, and continued, only to feel a sharp sting on her shoulder, followed by more, all over her body. Looking down, she realised she was covered with ants, biting her constantly. Gritting her teeth she kept channelling, until the weave finally fell into place. With a sigh she moved on, rubbing at the welts covering her body. Soon the pain was a distant memory, as she began the next weave, channelling with a dedication she never knew she possessed. Weave after weave was completed, despite the whipping, the stones from the angry mob, and a most embarrassing incident where she was naked in the middle of the warder’s yard, while the trainees pointed and laughed. Her face suffused with heat at the last. There was no reason to laugh, she was attractive! She yelled at them as the weave fell into place, and she ran from the laughing crowd. Stepping to the next star, Lavinya wiped the sweat from her brow and began the next weave. She was over two thirds finished. Her body was numb with pain, and she’d suffered so much pain, in so many different ways. Tears stained her cheeks, and her body shuddered with the effort of continuous channelling. Still she persevered. She must remain strong, and she would. Ninety-seven weaves completed, she moved on, looking for the star. It appeared beneath some trees, and she stepped onto it to begin the complex weave, spirit, air and earth threading together into a huge tangle. A voice she knew and loved called to her, and she paused, faltering slightly. Light, not this! Steeling her resolve, she added another thread. Sweat broke out on her brow again, but she continued. “Please!†Begged the voice. Water was added to the weave, and thick strands of fire. Lavinya desperately tried to ignore the screams from behind her, and her knees shook from the effort. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Elyna, her sweet mentee, bound and suspended over a bubbling cook pot. Lavinya whimpered, almost dropping the weave. Falling to her knees, she gritted her teeth against her sobs and added earth to the tangle. Trollocs appeared around the novice, and Elyna screamed. Lavinya sobbed, echoing the scream as she continued, her heart breaking at the sight and sound of the sweet girl, who had come to mean so much to her, suffering. Without thinking fire launched from her hands towards the Trollocs, but more soon came to replace the ones she struck. Over and over she threw the fire balls, while still maintaining the required web, barely. There were so many of the creatures, too many. Elyna’s piercing screams filled the air, and Lavinya’s chest heaved from her heartfelt sobs. “I’m so sorry Elily†she cried, and the weave fell into place. Lavinya wept into her hands. On unsteady legs, she slowly stood, turning her back on the heart-wrenching sight, and headed for the next star. She knew the sound of Elyna’s bloodcurdling screams would haunt her for the rest of her days. Lavinya completed the next few weaves, her mind and body numb. The tears kept flowing, but she never stopped, never lost sight of her goal. The final weave fell into place, and she dropped to her knees once more, letting the emotion flow from her. Looking up from beneath her bedraggled hair, she realised she was back in the basement, slowly being helped to her feet by Elyssa. She blinked a few times before she understood, and wiped away her tears. She was wet from sweat and her tears, but her skin was unharmed. She tried to straighten her spine. She should feel some sense of victory. She had passed the test. Instead she felt strangely hollow. She allowed Elyssa to help her dress, and headed for the quiet solitude of her room, for her contemplation. __ OOC: Night of contemplation (I use the term loosely in Lavinya's case ) is on a separate thread IC: Lavinya tried to hide all evidence of her tearful night, frowning at herself in the mirror as she applied her various creams and powders. It would not do to look overly dishevelled on the first day she was named an Aes Sedai. Her heart was still aching from her encounter with Nuitari, but she tried to push the painful thoughts aside, and focus on what must happen today. Finally believing her appearance to be acceptable, Lavinya confidently strode from the room, silently saying goodbye to her days as an Accepted. Complete silence greeted her entrance, though all the sitters for the Hall of the Tower were present. The Amyrlin and the Keeper stood, silently and serene before her. Lavinya straightened her stance and adopted the Aes Sedai calm she had practised since her raising to Accepted. The silence was deafening, and Lavinya could feel all eyes burning into her. Tilting her chin, she faced the Amyrlin as the ceremony began. “Who comes here?†The Amyrlin’s voice rang loud and clear across the hall. Lavinya silently cleared her throat, before answering confidently. “Lavinya Morganen.†“For what reason do you come?†â€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.†Lavinya nodded, just a tiny inclination of her head. Forcing her feet to move, she stepped forward, through the ter’angreal. She had come too far to flounder now, had endured too much. A shiver ran down her spine as she stepped through the ter’angreal, as she recalled the scenes she had met inside. Stepping closer to the Amyrlin, she waited for what she knew was to come. Three oaths, that would bind her to the tower for the rest of her days. Three oaths that could not be broken. Lifting up her hands, she accepted the smooth rod, before uttering her oaths. “Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.†She flinched, as the oath was bound to her bones, her skin feeling as though it had shrunk. Light, but it was painful. â€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 tightening sensation increased. Lavinya forced her face to remain calm and impassive, to ignore the pain. “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.†The last oath was uttered, and she let out a small breath she hadn’t realised she held. Her skin felt as though it was too small, from her scalp to the soles of her feet, and the sensation was highly painful. Yet, looking around the room, she knew that she was far from the first to experience the oaths. If the Aes Sedai could handle the discomfort, so would she. "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." Handing back the oath rod, Lavinya stepped forward, to the representatives of the Grey Ajah, one sister standing in front with a Grey Shawl. “I choose the Grey Ajah.†At last it was done. She was an Aes Sedai, of the Grey Ajah, should they accept her. She allowed the tiniest spark of a smile to cross her features as she faced her new sisters. _______________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia Dorian Ayerell - Tower Trainee, Mentee of Yrean Satine Whyre - Acrobat in Simon Jornin's travelling Circus The sun had hid behind a cloud, it was only a few hours after sunrise and Phaedra was up and about, reading through the reports from Andor and sipping her morning tea. She wore a light gray robe over her pale blue nightgown and looked utterly comfortable in the knowledge that she could spend her morning in solitude. Her mind was just waking up and her eyes had gotten over that sleepy look that one had when waking up calmly. She had often enough woken up troubled, after little sleep that had hardly overcome the worry but lately it seemed things were better. Marce was gone for about half a year now and the gossip they had expected had not been as fierce, the story that Freja had come up with had worked. Phaedra had hated how she had come to her position but knew, looking back on things, that it could not have gone any different. Finella had been a great support, she had stayed up many nights with the new Head Clerk to help her organize things and to contact Eyes and Ears hat Marce had had. Her sudden disappearance had left things in a jumble and knowing how the woman had left the Tower, they could not blame it on her for one bit. The Sisters involved had not yet returned from their punishment and would not for another few years. It was not like they were exiled from the Tower, the Trial had been harsh but fair, Phaedra had made sure of that. It had been her first task as Head Clerk to see that the women responsible were punished. Her mind traveled from the reports, back to Marce and that horrible night she had spoken with Freja and Finella about what had happened. And then it moved on to Ophelia who had stepped up and defended the women on trial, to see that justice was done for them. The Ajah had not blamed her, a defender was needed even for those who had hurt the Ajah down to its core and it was good that she had taken that step. It had shown Phaedra that the woman would not let her heart control her, even if her words were a jumble sometimes. A few months later, the Hall had greeted a new Sitter in the position of the Grays and Ophelia had done a good job at it. Phaedra had taken her under her wing a bit, knowing that the woman needed a guide but felt that Ophelia was growing fast and would soon stand on her own with more ease. Finella liked the other Sitter for they were alike so much, Phaedra could not come between that easy-going feeling the two had, but was glad that two of their Sitters at least had the heart on their tongue. One could easily see what the reason was that the Tower had not started a trial against the Ajah, Ophelia and Finella had worked hard on showing that this was an upstart, something horrible that should never have happened, but that was definitely not supported by the Ajah. A smile of pride pursed through Phaedra’s lips when she heard someone knock and enter. “Ophelia, what brings you here this morning?†she asked before turning around. The woman had a tendency of seeing her knock as the call to enter all in one go, but it was something that Phaedra had learned to live with. It was a small flaw and Phaedra brushed off her robe to put emphasis on the privacy of her quarters when Ophelia started to blush and said, “I apologize, the news was important and I had to come,†Phaedra nodded slowly. She hoped it was news that Marce had been found, that Freja had been successful in finding her, but something told her that Ophelia would not have stopped talking if that was the case. The Gray stood waiting for Phaedra to nod and give her leave to speak, a little irritated Phaedra did so and Ophelia started to speak of a young woman who had been tested the day before. “Yes, I know, Lavinya, she has worked with the Grays and there is a lot of potential...†Phaedra stopped mid sentence and said, “Is she?†and Ophelia nodded. “She is, she wants to become a Gray,†Ophelia said. Phaedra nodded, smiling and said, “I’ll get ready, have you talked to Finella?†The other Gray nodded, “She said she would like to speak tonight, she apparently has been preparing for this for quite some time already,†Phaedra nodded. She could have known that Finella had been on top of this for years before any of them had even expected this. When Ophelia left the room, Phaedra started to wash up and brush her dark hair, she let it hang loosely while she picked out a dress for the occasion. It was simple, a black dress with a silver pin on the chest in the shape of the Flame of Tar Valon. Then she placed her low black leather boots on her feet and took the Gray shawl which she placed over her shoulders. Leaving her quarters to get the Shawl that the new Gray would receive she smiled as Finella passed by and gave her a knowing glance. The woman had a talent and Phaedra knew it, she never let it slip passed her that Finella had talent and that she was an asset to the Ajah. As she prepared for the new Gray and asked Nyssa to ready herself for the events to come, Finella returned to the Gray quarters to warn them that the Ceremony was about to begin and they should be going. Phaedra’s eyes went dark and she nodded through a few final comments towards Nyssa, the Youngest would help the Newest get ready. Nyssa had gone through the tradition herself and this would help her to be able to guide Lavinya. They went the three of them with Dawn, Sasra and Nyssa following shortly after. Phaedra pinched Finella’s hand softly and said, “I hear you prepared for this?†and the other Sitter gave her a broad smile, warm and welcoming when she said, “Of course, that is my job,†and Phaedra gave her another soft pinch in her hand nodded. Seeing Lavinya Morganen take her Oaths warmed Phaedra, she could see how the woman stood fierce, ready for anything as she took the Oaths and looked over the faces of the Ajah representatives. The Grays had not taken the entire Ajah, but enough to stand ready for their triumph. When Lavinya uttered the words that she wanted to join the Grays, Phaedra felt a light burst of butterflies erupt in her stomach. It was not all lost, Marce had left and so had Freja, they had overcome the sour time and now it was time for growth. Fresh blood to enter the Ajah and to make whole what had been torn apart. As the other Ajah representatives left the room, Phaedra took a step forward. “Be welcome Lavinya Morganen, you have completed your test for Acceptance to become an Aes Sedai with great strength and will power. You will become one of us, it is a task you have accepted that we are willing to give you. You have earned the right to wear the Shawl, to wear the Great Serpent Ring and to call yourself Aes Sedai, come here and show me you have earned the right to become Gray.†This was in fact the first step in her trial, only Lavinya had no clue of this. She did not know what was waiting for her later that day, for now it was all a dream for her probably. Being accepted by her Sisters and earning the Shawl after years of hard studies. The woman stepped up and then bowed through her knees into a curtsy, Phaedra placed the Shawl over her shoulders and rested a hand on the woman’s left shoulder, “Strenght,†she mused. Then stepped back and let the other sisters accept the woman in their midst. Nyssa would then take her to her new quarters and prepare her for what was to come. Phaedra studied Lavinya’s face as she was welcomed by the Sitters and by the other Grays, it was not a lie. She was one of them, she had just not earned her place yet. But she would, Phaedra was sure of that and turned around to head back to her quarters. There was much work to be done before Lavinya Sedai could be named Gray. Phaedra Eskarne Head Clerk “Be welcome Lavinya Morganen, you have completed your test for Acceptance to become an Aes Sedai with great strength and will power. You will become one of us, it is a task you have accepted that we are willing to give you. You have earned the right to wear the Shawl, to wear the Great Serpent Ring and to call yourself Aes Sedai, come here and show me you have earned the right to become Gray.†Lavinya obediently stepped forward and curtsied, and the long sought after gray-fringed shawl was draped over her shoulders. She smiled triumphantly. She had worked too hard and too long not to enjoy the moment now. "Strength." Lavinya wondered over the soft word. She wasn't sure if the Sister was making an observation or not, but she took courage from it. She had come so far, all her dreams were finally being realised. She looked over the other Gray Ajah representatives, recongising several from various classes she'd undertaken as both novice and Accepted. Now she was one of them. She fingered the shawl at her shoulders, the slight pressure both comforting and awe-inspiring. She once again schooled her features into a calm, composed face befitting an Aes Sedai. It would not do well to appear as a giggling girl on the first day as Aes Sedai. Lavinya tried to maintain her posture, but the Oaths had taken their toll, leaving her skin feeling unbearably tight. She hoped one of the sisters would offer her healing, else she feared she may end up limping for the rest of her days. She hesitated as the sisters welcomed her, not really sure what was to happen next. _________________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia Dawn pinched Nyssa in her arm as the two of them watched Lavinya Morigen take her Oaths. She remembered so well how proud she had been of her mentee and now a new Gray was to join their Ajah. She beamed up at Lavinya when she heard the woman utter the words that she wanted to join the Gray. As the other Ajah representatives left and the Grays were left to welcome their new member. She smiled and looked almost off in dreams, when Phaedra completed the ritual by handing the woman her Shawl. Dawn clasped her hands together and gave Nyssa a soft nudge. The woman looked a bit tensed up and Dawn smiled at her, “It is your task to help her through this,†she knew that it was not an easy task. She smiled and wanted to add that Nyssa would do a great job, but she had already spoken with her former metnee about the matter and ti would only be emphasis of what the Gray already knew. Nyssa would have to guide the woman to what most Sisters considered the worst thing ever, the ritual the Grays used to make sure their Sisters were worthy. As Phaedra and the other Sitters said their welcome to the new Gray, Dawn stood ready to almost jump her. She smiled warmly when it was her turn and hugged Lavinya tight, “You did good,†she whispered and then took a step back. She watched as the other Grays greeted the new Sister and watched as Lavinya started to glow and smile, realizing she was an Aes Sedai now. Her training was done and Dawn knew she would stand through the test they would give her. She watched Finella, she had heard the Sitter would speak up against Lavinya and knowing the Sitter well, this was not going to be an easy trial for Lavinya. Finella was a warm and kind person and Dawn had not felt any reserve towards the woman, yet she was also very perceptive and she would hit down hard as was asked of her. Dawn adjusted her Shawl, gave a last glance over the new Gray and then smiled at Nyssa who would take her to her new quarters. She had a mentee to see, one who might never stand before her as a future Gray. First her work, before the trial would begin and Lavinya could be accepted into the Gray Ajah. Dawn Sedai Gray Ajah Proud to be Gray Nyssa found herself running around her quarters, trying to get things in place for the upcoming ceremony. Of course her part wasn’t all that complicated, but it had to be done well none the less. And since this was a once in a lifetime experience, for her and Lavinya both, she wanted to make the most of it. She donned a pale, lavender silk dress which fell smoothly along her body, and wrapped the gray shawl around her shoulders. It was a comforting weight, as it had been since the first moment she had received it. It would be to Lavinya as well, after she had passed the trial, and could call the shawl her own for sure. Nyssa looked herself over in the mirror one last time before looking at the table, which was already set for a dinner for two. Lavinya would probably be hungry by the time they could finally sit down there. Hungry and aching. Freja had waited until after the trial to rid her of the tight sensation that came with the Oaths. Finella had instructed her to wait as well. Apparently the feeling was a part of the trial. She felt a little sorry for Lavinya as she remembered how uncomfortable she had been during those hours. A knock on her door told her that it was time. She walked out of her room, leaving it ready for when she returned. Outside Finella was waiting for her. “Ready?†the Sitter asked her. Nyssa smiled at the likeable woman. “I’m prepared.†Finella returned her smile. “Good… then let’s welcome our new sister to the fold.†Nyssa walked along side Dawn towards the hall. She could see Finella and Phaedra conversing in front of her. Again she smiled. She had often wondered about the bond between the two. Recently she had decided to let it rest. It was there, and it made them strong, and that was all any sister of the Gray Ajah really needed to know. Silently they watched as Lavinya took her Oaths. Dawn pinched her when Lavinya uttered the words that would make her a Gray Sister, and Nyssa smiled at her former mentor. It was a special day, when Nyssa would give up her role as the Youngest to Lavinya while she guided her through the last hours of her initiation. Finella shot her a glance that could be perceived as a warning. Nyssa nodded at the Sitter. She understood. Lavinya was not to know about the trial. She waited patiently for the older sisters to welcome Lavinya into the Ajah. As the youngest she would be the last to greet her, and the last to leave her side at the Trial. That was the way things worked. She smiled warmly when Dawn stepped aside to allow her to greet Lavinya. “Welcome sister.†She said as she embraced Lavinya. Then she stepped back, taking Lavinya’s hands in her own. “I know the past hours have been trying for you. Come, I’ll show you to your rooms, and then we can spend some time in mine.†She looped Lavinya’s arm through her own, and followed the procession of her sisters out of the Hall. Today would be the first day of a very special life for the new sister. Nyssa would try very hard to make it special. ~Nyssa Sedai Gray Ajah “I know the past hours have been trying for you. Come, I’ll show you to your rooms, and then we can spend some time in mine.†Lavinya gave Nyssa a relieved smile, glad for a friendly, familiar face. Also for the help - now she was Aes Sedai, she was unsure of what came next. Arm in arm, they followed the other sisters out of the hall, into the twisting corridors beyond. Lavinya had not had much reason to venture into the Gray Ajah quarters as a novice or Accepted, but instantly she felt as though she was coming home. Nyssa quietly opened the door to her new chambers, and Lavinya paused on the threshold an gasped. This was fit for a queen, after the cramped Accepteds Rooms. A cheerful blaze was flickering in the hearth of her new sitting room. Everything was decorated with silver touches, from the thick rug on the floor, to the elegant satin pillows littered across her large bed. She sighed quite contentedy. "It is wonderful." She breathed, already making mental notes of the slight changes she would make, adding her personal stamp to the room. After checking to make sure all of her belongings were in order, Lavinya followed Nyssa back out into the hall, towards her rooms. Lavinya was greeted by the delicious smells of a meal waiting for them, and her stomach rumbled hungrily in response. She'd been unable to eat erlier due to her nerves, and someone else she refused to acknowledge, even in her thoughts. Hastily bringing her mind back to present matters, she smiled at Nyssa and took the chair she offered. _________________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia Standing by silently as Lavinya inspected her rooms and her belongings the way she too had done, not that long ago gave Nyssa a sense of joy that was unexpected, but not unwelcome. The broad smile on the younger woman’s face told her enough about how well she liked the rooms, and the exclamation that followed merely confirmed that. Lavinya was home. “I’m glad you like your new rooms.†She said. When she had been raised, Dawn had taken her to her new rooms as well, after which she had asked Nyssa to join her for a quiet dinner for two. They had done that before, as mentor and mentee. Nyssa hadn’t spent quite as much time with Lavinya as she had with Dawn before her raising, but she was still sure that they could fill a few hours with enjoyable conversation. She wanted Lavinya to relax. Her trial would be hard enough even without her imagining all the horrible things that might be said or done. The trial was always a shock to newly raised sisters, or so Freja had told her. Somehow everyone expected that as soon as they received the shawl, their place within the Ajah was secure. It was, in a way. The outcome of the trial merely determined the duration of your try out period. Nyssa herself had been under Freja’s wing for a year before she was allowed to handle things on her own. She hoped that Lavinya’s trial period would be equally short. After another brief inspection of her rooms, Lavinya was ready to continue. Nyssa imagined that she was quite hungry by now. She had been absolutely famished herself, after she had been unable to eat after her test the night before, and had also skipped breakfast. The young sedai took her place opposite to her. For a moment they ate in silence, commenting every now and then on how well mistress Larass had prepared things. Some novices and Accepted had a deep loathing for the mistress of the kitchens, having spent many hours in her presence scrubbing pots. Nyssa found that that loathing passed swiftly as soon as they were raised. After all, one of her meals was exactly what a person needed after a hard days work. Nyssa smiled at Lavinya, watching as the young woman enjoyed the wonderful food on her plate. “So…†she started, taking a sip of her wine. “How does it feel to be raised?†~Nyssa Sedai Gray Ajah Lavinya delicately wiped at the corner of her mouth with a napkin before answerin Nyssa's question. "It is quite a relief, I suppose." She mused aloud. "After all, I have trained long and hard for this day, and now it has finally arrived." She fingered the gray fringed shawl looped around her elbows. "It is like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders." She smiled up at Nyssa, though her thoughts were focused inwards. She let her thought roam back to her early days in the tower, as they continued eating in relative silence. She had always been an ambitious girl, working and striving hard to complete her lessons as best she could. She had stayed put of trouble for the most part, except for one large error on her part that made her shudder. She'd learned the dire importance of maintaining her self-control that day. She held in a shudder. She would still have her revenge on a certain Green Sister. She had also learnt patience. Lavinya had always had an inward struggle, partly due to her ambition, and partly with her own weaknesses. She had been told her potential would only be middling at best, and that was something that grated her continuously. She desired power and influence, and had constantly cursed the creator for not blessing her with the strength in the One Power that she believed she deserved. Still, through sheer determination and will power, she had been raised to Accepted after only seven years. She took a sip of wine and shrugged off the past. She had just acheived one of her biggest goals. She should be looking forward, not back. Last night should have been allocated to reminiscing. A dull ache started in her heart at the thought of what had instead ocurred the previous evening, and she hastily pushed the painful thought aside. She was Aes Sedai now. She didn't need any man, particularly one who rejected her love. She forced herself back to the present, though not without some difficulty, and smiled brightly at Nyssa. "It is a little daunting though. I have spent to long striving for the shawl, and now that I have it, well, I'm not sure what to do with myself." She grimaced. "I am grateful to not have to scrub anymore pots though." She laughed lightly and sipped her wine again. Suddenly she felt so...free. She didn't know how to take that though. Fifteen years of her life had been dedicated to this day. She wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. _________________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia Nyssa could almost see Lavinya’s mind race through the years she had spent at the White Tower as both a Novice and an Accepted. She smiled. Lavinya had spent more time in the office of the Mistress of Novices than she had, but that hardly mattered now. Even though she had been rebellious, she had also been determined. In the end it had taken her just as long as Nyssa to be raised. The dark haired woman knew quite well that that took a lot of effort, ambition and determination. Perhaps it was that similarity between them that made her like the younger woman sitting across from her so much. When Lavinya spoke of feeling a little lost at what to do now she smiled. “All will be well.†It took her some effort to hide the wryness she felt at that. She too had felt a little lost in the beginning. After all, she had reached her goal. What was next? She had wandered into the gray halls with Dawn at her side, not knowing what to expect and what to do next. That had been fixed soon enough, of course. Freja had put her to the test, reminding her of all the things she had done in her life. Then she had thought she was finally accepted fully within the Ajah. And she had been. Freja had taken her under her wing, and forced her to study long and hard, to make her worthy of the Gray Ajah. In the end it was worth it of course, but at the time she had felt much like she had in her Accepted years. She was still running for some Aes Sedai. She smiled warmly when she thought of Freja now. She hoped that her mentor was well, wherever she was. Lavinya finished her meal. Nyssa rose. “I think it’s time for you to meet all your sisters.†Looping her arm through Lavinya’s she guided the young Aes Sedai to the gray halls, where she would have her trial. Nyssa had never seen Finella at work. She wondered what the woman would be like, with her prey in sight. She couldn’t be worse than Freja… or could she? Nyssa had always wondered what the Sitter was hiding behind all that kindness. She would find out soon enough. ~Nyssa Deschain Sister of the Gray Ajah “I think it’s time for you to meet all your sisters.†Lavinya let Nyssa link arms with her, before leading her from the room. She was very grateful to have someone with her to help her settle into her new Ajah. She had met wuite a few of the gray sisters over the years, as teachers in her classes, or even the visits to the Mistress of Novices, but now she would be not meeting them as an inferior, but as a sister, as a fellow Aes Sedai. They chatted amiably as they walked, Nyssa pointing out which sisters occupied the chambers they passed, and sharing a few tidbits about the sisters she had to meet. She was a little surprised that they didn't stop in to greet any of the sisters as they walked past. She was under the impression she was going to meet the other gray sisters. Perhaps they were waiting somewhere to meet her together? Lavinya didn't voice her query, happy to let Nyssa guide her through the spidery corridors of the gray quarters. They paused as the reached the Great Hall, where Lavinya had sworn her Oaths that very morning. They were waiting for her here? Silently Nyssa led her inside, and Lavinya found herself face to face with the other sisters from her Ajah. Suddenly Lavinya felt a little wary. There were many serious expressions on the sisters watching her. She looked at Nyssa quizzically. Was that pity in the woman's expression? She clasped her hands in front of her, uncertain of what was to come. _________________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia Nyssa felt the fluttering of butterflies raving through her stomach as she presented Lavinya to the Ajah. It was a very special moment. The faces were all turned to her, some black, some curious or amused, and some filled with a kind of distrust. She could understand that now, a lot better than when she had been the one these looks were meant for. All these women were waiting to see if the most recent addition to the Ajah was worthy, or if she at least had the potential. In the middle of the Hall Finella stood behind the accusers pedestal. It was strange to see the woman there, dressed in a pale gray dress with a high collar. She looked every bit the judge. Nyssa glanced over at Phaedra. She also looked stern, but somehow more forgiving than Finella. It was strange to see how the roles between the two had changed now that Finella was leading the trail of Lavinya. She straightened her back slightly, and released Lavinya’s arm. With one had on the small of Lavinya’s back she guided her to the accused bench. How becoming it was. How Gray. Nyssa felt a great warmth going out towards her sisters. This was what she loved about them. What she loved about being a sister of the Gray Ajah. She left Lavinya standing in front of the bench, before walking over to Finella. She stood silently next to the Sitter for a moment, as if she had to gether her thoughts. With one small nod to Lavinya, she started the trial. “Good evening, Sisters of the Gray. We are gathered here tonight to bring a new sister into our midst. I would like to offer you Lavinya Morganen. Let us begin her trial.†~ Finella nodded at Nyssa, indicating that the youngest could take her place at Dawn’s side. It was time for her to test the newest. Her look was blank, which was quite a change from her regular, warm look. Even her attire was suited for her role as prosecutor. It would be up to Lavinya to defend herself against everything that Finella could throw at her. The Sitter looked down at her papers for a moment, scanning her notes. Yes. There was enough here. She had missed the trials of both the youngest sister, and her predecessor, but that would not matter now. Silence fell in the Gray hall, as everyone seemed to wait for something. Finella allowed that silence to stretch, before nodding at Phaedra. It was time for the other Sitter to take the shawl from Lavinya’s shoulders. Soon Lavinya would find out that Phaedra was also the Head Clerk of the Gray Ajah. Soon, but not yet. First came the trial, and Finella was eager to see how this promising young lady would do. She almost held her breath when Phaedra rose, and walked towards Lavinya. ~Finella Sedai Sitter of the Gray Ajah Her eyes gazed over the leaflet, it was not of any importance but she liked to study it now, as she knew that evening would be occupied by the Trial of the new Sister. Phaedra tapped a pencil over the parchment, made a few notes and then rose to have a light supper at her table. Finella had stopped by an hour before they had discussed the events of that evening and then the Gray had departed to prepare herself. Phaedra had an idea of the kind of things that would be passing by that evening, but as she had not worked closely with Lavinya, she did not know all the finer details. Her stomach was easily filled with the soup and bread and then it was back to work. The dark gray dress Phaedra had donned on for the Ceremony that morning clung to her skin elegantly, it was a fine cut and she appreciated the shade of gray that made her almost fade off in the shadows. Her hair was tied in a pony tail down her back and she ran her fingers through it before readying herself. Placing the Shawl over her shoulders, Phaedra realized her task. This was to be her first Official task of introducing a new Gray into the Ajah. It was hardest on the new Gray, but there was always a bit of shock and horror that went through the Sisters watching as this trial started. Finella stood ready, Phaedra gave her a nod and then sat down, along with her Gray Sisters. Ophelia came in just before Nyssa and Lavinya and sat down next to Phaedra. The newest was placed behind the pedestal and then it was time to commence. Finella greeted the young woman and Phaedra studied her face, a soft frown fuzzing her brow. Was the woman truly ready? Once had a young woman screamed and cried when the Shawl was removed from her shoulders. Once the woman had left the Tower, burned up a year after she had felt she failed her Ajah testing. Phaedra shook the thought off and rose at Finella’s nod. She gazed over Lavinya’s face and then stood in front of the woman, beaming at her and smiling as Phaedra lowered her eyes and stretched out her hands. She felt the weight of the Shawl and then it was gone from Lavinya’s shoulders. She did not say anything, merely nodded at Finella and then walked back to her seat. The Shawl was easily folded and rested in her lap, it was not until she had finished the folding, that she looked up at Lavinya’s horror struck face. Poor child, yet she would manage, she was strong and Phaedra patiently waited for Finella to commence the accusations. To see if Lavinya could deal with her own past and her own mistakes, spilled in front of the Ajah she hoped to join. Phaedra Gray Sitter Ajah Head Lavinya felt the slight pressure at the small of her back as Nyssa led her over to stand behind a podium. Something twisted in her stomach. This was not at all what she expected. She looked quizically at Nyssa, and received only a small nod in return. “Good evening, Sisters of the Gray. We are gathered here tonight to bring a new sister into our midst. I would like to offer you Lavinya Morganen. Let us begin her trial.†Trial? No one had told her she would be on trial. She straightened her shoulders against the pressure still affecting her after her Oaths. She hadn't even been offered healing. Maybe they couldn't heal the pressure? Lavinya forced herself to focus. She had come too far. She could handle this trial. She could handle anything that came against her. Phaedra smiled at her, causing Lavinya to feel some small sense of relief. That was until she felt her newly acquired shawl slip from her shoulders. She couldn't hide the shock from her face as Phaedra calmly stepped back, folding the shawl neatly in her lap. Snapping her mouth shut, Lavinya forced herself to remain calm. Obviously that was the first part of the test. She would not be shaken now. Picturing a river, Lavinya completed a novice exercise, until she regained her calm. She tried to make her face smooth, but her eyes were sharp. She was strong. She proven that to herself countless times. She would not let that strength fail her now. She waited quietly to see what would unfold next, her eyes flicking back to the shawl in Phaedra's lap now and then. She would have that back. _________________ Lavinya Morganen - Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, Mentor to Elyna and Kilivia
  21. “Aramina sur Dulciena, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai.†The words broke Aramina out of the book she sat studying. She couldn’t seem to move. She knew that she should say something to the Mistress of Novices, but nothing would come out. How had they decided to come for her so soon? Wasn’t there some sort of notice they gave that you were reaching an end to your life as you knew it? “The Light keep you whole and see you safe.†Faerzyne Sedai said, breaking Aramina’s frozen moments. “Yes, Aes Sedai.†She said as she took a deep breath and left the safety of the library table and it’s familiar contents. Books had long become a favored companion of hers and Aramina looked regretfully back at the stack of books she left for others to clear up. She shook her head then, turning back to the matter at hand. The matter, of course, that her mind was trying to avoid by noticing inane things. Like the edge of her slippers were showing wear and would soon need replaced. Or that her left hand had an ink mark from her writing. Or that all sound seemed to stop as she passed through each area and all eyes were on her as she continued to follow Faerzyne Sedai through the Tower. Logically, Aramina knew her mind was diverting her attention, just as she knew sound did not stop, and that any eye that followed her and the Mistress of Novices was more than likely wondering what Aramina had done to deserve a visit to her office. Irrationality made these things large than life to her. Logically. She must think that way now more than ever before. Of course she knew the weaves she must complete. She had practiced until ever her dreams were of practicing. She had asked others to distract her. She had put herself into every place she could think of that would distract her properly. In the beginning she outdid herself 9 times out of 10, having to move to quieter locations to work the weaves, but she had passed that point some time ago. Now she had asked the help of other Accepted to keep her on her toes for the testing. She was competent with the weaves. It was what she didn’t know that worried her, about what would happen during the testing that no one talked about. All these years later a shiver still stuck with her whenever she thought of the Arches and personal truths she had passed through to become Accepted. She prayed the light saw her through this with less trauma than she had felt then. They passed into the bowels of the Tower and Aramina found herself staring through a set of doors at a beautiful ter’angreal. She took a deep breath, and then looked to the Sisters that stood around the room. She drew herself up and brought all the composure she could muster to her attention now. She stilled her hands at her sides though she wanted to dust her skirts and check her hair. She schooled her face to the same polite facade that she was known to be. She forced her breathing to be clam and steady, listening to the beating of her own heart as a guide in her need. “Attend†As Faerzye Sedai said the word the Aes Sedai in the room surrounded them. “You come in ignorance, Aramina sur Dulciena, how would you depart?†Alive, she thought. “In knowledge of myself.†She said calmly. “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.†The words were said by rote and the familiarity of that soothed her even further. “For what would you be found worthy?†“To wear the shawl.†There was no doubt in her that she would end all today. She would come out Aes Sedai or die. Those were the only options left to her. Her own determined nature left no room for anything else. Relief welled up in her at the thought. To die and be with Nat today, or to join the cause she had died for. A small smile graced her lips then as she began to disrobe. When she was clad in the Light, as tradition said, she turned to the Mistress of Novices for continued instructions. "Therefore I will instruct you. You will see the sign upon the ground." As Faerzyne channeled a six pointed star in the air with fire, a sister channeled behind Aramina, touching the back of her head with the weave as she said "Remember what must be remembered." Faerzyne 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." The sister spoke again. "Remember what must be remembered." Faerzyne spoke again. "When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation" Another repetition. "Remember what must be remembered." "One hundred times you will weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure", said Faerzyne. "Remember what must be remembered." It was time. Aramina took one last look at the small pile of clothes she left behind. Not much of a legacy really if she didn’t make it out. She took a deep breath and nodded at the Mistress of Novices. It seemed right, somehow, to acknowledge her hand in her training over the years. As she took a step forward she felt the Aes Sedai watching her closely. Keep your facade, Aramina reminded herself. Keep your attention focused and think about what you’re doing. Work the weaves and keep moving. Keep your facade and focus. With those words lingering in her mind she stepped into the ter’angreal … And into a storm. The trees around her whipped furiously with the wind throwing dead leaves and loose branches into her path. She could hardly see through the force of the rain but something caught her eye ahead to the left. She started walking towards it, knowing without understanding, that she needed to reach it. She shivered in the cold and realized that her clothes were gone. She had no reason to be in these woods, in the middle of a storm, without her clothes. Logic almost stopped her then but Aramina pushed ahead. Get to the star. Answers had to come from there; she knew it, without understanding. Facade and focus, her mantra came to her as she continued ahead again. As she stepped into the circle that contained the star she embraced the One Power and began weaving immediately. Competant, unrushed, she completed the weave and began moving on … Into a desert. Heat. She understood heat. She preferred it to the cold actually, but this was insufferable. There was nothing but heat and… the sun was doing something to her eyes. She thought the sand had moved, but it was far too hard where she stood for it to move like that. She looked up and saw the star that she needed to get to. She took the first step and her feet burned on the rocks underneath. Facade and focus. Her movements were unhurried even though each step felt like walking on coals. Another step forward and she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her calf. She looked down at a small snake that had bitten her. Not poisonous, but certainly painful for the bite it had taken. That would explain the movements her eyes had been unable to decipher, she decided. It struck again as she moved past it. Another was in her way and it took a bite of her too. Each step she took was dodged by the small pains of tiny teeth, but she knew she had to continue. She had to reach that star. As she did she began her weaving again. The snakes moved closer but as she completed the weave they disappeared completely. She took a deep breath and composed herself again, mustering herself to move on with the pains she had already endured. Snow. Tornado. Earthquake. Natural disasters moved onto man-made disasters as mobs came to destroy her, to destroy her family for what she was. Men tried to beat on her, women gossiped behind her back and scowled to her face, her village denounced her. Animals tracked and hunted her. Thorny vines crawled behind her steps and wrapped around her ankles. Physical injuries mounted and she walked over jagged ice and chards of glass , through pools of salt water and mounds of hot coals, to reach her destination. She was chased by shadows and shadowsworn, trollocs and myrddraal. Dreadlords taunted her and draghkar stalked her. She saw life stripped away in front of her for her defiance to move ahead and saw death lay at her feet that she could have saved. Each step hurt worse than the next. Pain blossomed from wounds she knew, but didn’t understand. Façade and focus. Her mantra kept her head up high and her emotions so buried in herself that she didn’t blink as the trollocs made their lunch as she weaved 99. And she founds herself surrounded by fire. The building she was in was in ruins as walls and ceiling began collapsing around her. She knew this. How did she know this? She walked deeper into the building, somehow through the smoke and heat and flames, seeing the star that must be reached. Slow and steady as chunks of roofing came down around her. Slow and steady as voices called out around her. Slow and steady when hands reached her. She pulled away, trying to get to the star. “Don’t leave me Ara!†Her steps didn’t falter even if her heart did. She knew that voice. The voice she heard every night in her nightmares. “Help me. I can’t find my way out.†Tears filled her eyes, but Aramina blinked them back. Façade and focus. “Ara, please!†Façade. “I need your help.†Focus. Take a step. “Ara… I’ll die here!†Façade. Step closer. “Light forsake you Ara!†The young woman began coughing then, the smoke becoming too much for her. Focus. One more. She was in the circle then and began her weave. She diverted her weaves, tired as she was, and began clearing the smoke from the room as she worked the last weave of her test. It wasn’t enough and she saw the young woman fall to her knees. “Ara…†a weak rasp was all that came out. “Please…†The light was too much and Aramina lurched blindly out of the ter’angreal. Aramina barely managed to stay upright as the flood of memories came to her. Each horrible ordeal after another slammed into her and she bowed her head for a moment, refusing to let anyone see the pain that was now written on her face. They had done all of it, these Sisters who sat watching. One of them had known about Natalie. One of them had used the most horrific thing in her life to keep her from gaining the shawl. There was no way of knowing who did it or how they knew. Aramina took a deep breath and looked at the Sisters around her, remembering their faces. It would be a long time before any of them held her trust. Her physical pain could be dealt with, but the emotions she had been forced to play out in her last test were something to be answered for. “It is done.†Faerzyne’s voice and following clap broke through Aramina’s study of the Aes Sedai around her. “Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.†She clapped her hands again before continuing. “Aramina sur Dulciena, you will spend tonight in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on tomorrow, when you receive the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.†Done. No, not done. Far from done, but her test for the shawl was complete. Life with all it’s pain and pleasures still had a long way to take Aramina. A yellow sister came and offered healing and Aramina accepted readily. The snake bites had been a problem since they still all bleed freely. Her steps were tortured from the desert, not to mention what she had walked through to get to the stars. Too many injuries for her tired mind to catalogue, though she knew once she was rested the catalogue would be in the back of her mind anyway. In a moment all pains were washed away, though the Yellow Sister had to hold Aramina up for a moment after the healing. She was led back to her room then, where food sat waiting for her return. She took a sniff of it, but ravenous as she was, she couldn’t make herself eat when her mind swam around one trap. Only one truth had come to her tonight. She had loved Nat with everything in her. How then, had it been possible for her to leave the girl to her death? Not once, but three times. Her Arches had shown her doing that twice. She had clung to Nat that night and told her that she would never leave her. It had been a lie then; one that Natalie had later given Aramina back. A lie neither of them had been able to understand as a lie. Aramina took a deep breath and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her one truth. She was no longer Aramina sur Dulciena. Years of study had made something more of her, and something less. Aramina sur Dulciena did not leave friends to die. The woman looking back at her in the mirror, however, did, had, and would again. She was about to become Aes Sedai and the woman she was now, was not just a simply woman anymore, but a tool of the White Tower. It was… oddly comforting. She hadn’t understood back then but she did now. Just as Nat had understood when she had left the White Tower and died in its service. A sense of pride filled Aramina then as she looked back at her plate and picked up the bread that had been left. Her appetite was ready after all. The next morning found her tired, but ready. Her brown hair lay in perfect curls around her crown and down her neck and back. She walked in silence as the Sister’s led her on for the morning’s ritual. She was brought before the Amyrlin then, her keeper at her side. "Who comes here?" She asked from beside the ter'angreal. Aramina held her head high, her voice steady, and her expression as calm as an Aes Sedai. “Aramina sur Dulciena†"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." Aramina walked at the same measured pace she had in her testing through the ter’angreal and knelt in from the Amyrlin. The Oath rod was placed into her hand and she channeled a small about of spirit into the end of the slender white rod. With the Aryrlin’s nod, Aramina was ready for her Oaths. "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." With each Oath, Aramina had felt the words settling into her bones. It was like snakebites all over her body. Like poison oak that she couldn’t scratch. Like a spider had laid a web on her bones and had tightened it as each word was said. It was disconcerting but she kept her face steady. "It is half done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones." The Amyrlin said as she took the rod out of Aramina’s hand and placed it back on the pillow. "Rise now, Aes Sedai, and chose your Ajah, and all will be done that may be done under the Light." Aramina rose then and curtsied deeply for the Amyrlin and her Keeper, then turned to look at the Sisters present. She didn’t know if they knew where she was headed, but she took her time as she took a deep breath. She had thought of a million things to say as she approached her intended Ajah, but at the moment not a single one of them came forward to her mind. She walked steadily until she stood in front of the Green Ajah. “I would be a Green Sister, if I am permitted.†_________________ Aramina Sur Dulciena Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah She molded the clay, working it between her hands, wishing that she could meld people in such a way. The vase took shape in her hands and her hands moved gracefully upwards, slimming the vase as she went. Jade supposed in a way they did meld the Green recruits that came to them wanting be Green. They wanted it with all they were worth and they denied them, denied the thing they thought was their right. Jade had had her day at being denied and she had survived that task and many others that had come before her in her time as Aes Sedai. Denial was something she was well used to in fact, it seemed these days that she was denied everything she wanted. Denied her lover, denied a chance at love with anyone else, denied the right to sanity, denied the Ajah Head position. She sneered and thought of Sirayn Sedai who had everything she wanted, not by any means other than being smarter, brighter, and better. Jade looked down as the clay in her hands snapped at her and crumbled. She knew better than to let anger consume her while she was working the clay but these days she seemed to have no control over her emotions or the way they swamped her. The worst was the little voice in her head that kept whispering things to her when she was alone in her room. It was quiet when she was in the room, but when she was alone in her room it tore at her soul and took her apart piece by small piece. She made the motions with the clay and began to reshape the vase that she had been working on, it was a present for a friend and she wouldn't let her anger stop her from doing something that pleasured her. Time passed and she floated in the Void, devoid of any emotion and she worked on the vase. Adding details would come once it dried some. With a loud sigh she stopped the wheel and carried the vase to the workbench. Tomorrow she would add the details and then she would fire it in the kiln that had been built in the Green Quarters. Turning to the basin she washed the clay from her hands and face. She groaned and messaged the sore spot in the center of her back, missing the days when she could go back to her quarters and share love with someone. When Seia would message her sore joints and muscles and Jade would do the same for her. Jaydena smiled softly as she remembered the love they had shared and wished that it had never ended. She walked from the pottery room and made her way down to her quarters. Embracing the source she removed the weaves from around her room and stepped inside. On the floor lay a sealed envelope which she recognized well. Another chit was going through the testing and had passed, tomorrow the girl would be raised to the shawl. She sneered and laughed as she thought that if the girl chose the green she would find out that she would have no shawl til she was molded like clay. The next morning she woke up quickly and began to dress for the day, she washed her body and long auburn hair with rose hip soap. She rubbed lotion on her body and wondered why it mattered if she dolled herself up. There was no one there to care anymore anyway. Just the big empty bed that she had to make by herself every morning, for she wouldn't leave it for the servants. For if they didn't know that she slept alone they would look at her with sympathy in their eyes. Jade slide her legs into the silk stocking she wore and hooked the garters. She stepped into a emerald green sating dress with the Aes Sedai symbol embroidered along the hem and neckling. A matching gold belt cinched her tiny waist and an emerald necklace given to her by her first Gaidin went around her neck. The matching earrings and bracelet completed the outfit. She let her auburn hair fall down her back and hooked her shawl with a pin. Her feet slid into a pair of green slippers and she walked from her room. Giving her gaidin a smile she ignored the worry in the woman's eyes, the worrry that was always there and always in the bond. The woman feared for her and wondered when she would crack. Jade knew it and ignored it, she would never crack and she would never give up. She ate her breakfast in silence and looked up absently as her gaidin kissed her forehead and walked from the room. The worry still pulsing through the bond like a living thing. Jade finished her breakfast and walked out of her quarters, setting the weaves that protected her rooms from unwanted eyes and hands. She walked through the quiet halls and soon reached her destination. Taking her place beside the other Sitters she looked on as the ceremony began and a new sister joined their ranks. Soon the young woman was finished and she walked toward the Greens. So it was to be that way, another broken spirit. The new sister approached them and spoke, “I would be a Green Sister, if I am permitted.†Jade nodded and spoke, "We will take you to our Ajah Head Aramina Sedai." She motioned to the other Sitters and they made their way from the room. They walked through the Halls with soft foot falls and soon reached the Green Quarters. Their feet fell on the green sword inlaid tiles and Jade knocked loudly on a matching door when they reached it... _________________ Jaydena Sedai Sitter of the Green "We will take you to our Ajah Head Aramina Sedai." Aramina Sedai. It took everything in her not to smile at the title. She had worked years for it and though her emotions were still raw from the previous days trial, she felt relief and pride at hearing herself named Aes Sedai. She nodded to the Sister and followed along as they made their way through the Tower to the Green Quarters. Most people that knew Aramina wouldn't be able to tell by her appearance that she felt any different today as she followed the Sisters. Her sisters now. Her head was held as highly as she always held it, her posture as good. Her steps were firm and unhurried. No fluttering of hands or impatience gestures to show her excitement. No flush of skin or tear of joy showed on her face. Not even a smile to show that everything she had worked for in all her years had been attained, as she walked towards her meeting with the Head of the Green Ajah. Inwardly Aramina was a mess. Her carefully placed facade that took no more effort than breathing was taking all her concentration now. She worked to keep the corners of her lips from turning up or from trying to hurry the other Sisters. As the Aes Sedai came to a halt Aramina took a deep breath and waited to see if her Ajah would take her in. _________________ Aramina Sur Dulciena Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah Kareja followed Jaydena and Maechalla matching her step to the newest Green Recruit, Aramina Sur Dulciena, studying the young woman from the corner of her eye. She looked as calm as the full Sister she thought herself to be, her face expressionless as any Aes Sedai. The ageless look was of course missing and it would take years to work its way into her features but she wore her Accepted’s dress as if it were a silk dress and stepped as gracefully as any royal. I hope she bears disappointment as regally. Sirayn’s apartments were well known to most Accepted, they avoided them studiously unless commanded there. Sirayn Símeone-Damodred was not known for her patience with Novices or Accepted, Kareja thought wryly, though she could be kind Kareja knew. But still Aramina showed no hint of expression. Jaydena knocked sharply and they stood for a moment before the Captain General’s voice bid them to enter. The rooms reflected the woman. Sparse but elegant, a richness and depth with a hard edge of effeciencly. Sirayn sat at her desk studying the four of them silently as they approached. Jaydena gestured gracefully toward Aramina, "We have brought Aramina Sedai to you, Captain General. She wishes to speak of becoming a Sister of the Battle Ajah." Kareja had watched many supplicants to the Green quail before that gray eyed gaze but Aramina still stood expressionless, her hands at her sides, her gaze as equally unreadable as Sirayn's. Is the poor thing in shock? Or is she really so inscrutable? Kareja Niatari NSW Green Sitter She had looked into these eyes before and seen anger, heard scorn and debasement in her words and tone. Today there was no trace of emotion that she could see. Aramina sur Dulciena stood before Sirayn Sedai, barely having taken her vows and wanting nothing more than to go back to bed, to sleep away her memories of the night before and scrub the bone tightening words from her body. It was unsettling and the last thing Aramina needed at a time like this was anything that distracted her from her true goal. She needed to be more prepared. If she had known who she would stand before she would have spent the night in earnest preparing for the confrontation instead of trying to erase the memories that closed around her. She had lived with her haunted memories for years. One more night could have waited. This was not just another Sister she was stepping up to. Her other meetings with Sirayn had made her use her wits in ways that she hadn't since she had first began learning the Great Game. In a way, she was learning all over. As a child she had learned from her mother who was quite skilled. By her death Aramina no longer saw her mother as a master but simply as one who had supplied her with the basics she needed to get to the next level. In Sirayn Sedai, she saw a true Master and one that she desperately wanted to learn from. She wanted to clutch her skirts to keep her hands from scrubbing at the oaths in her bones, but she didn't allow either. She didn't let her own need to learn show in her eyes. She was not a Master yet but she knew well how to control herself and she wasn't about to give any chance away to Sirayn Sedai. She bowed her head slightly, acknowledging that she was indeed the supplicant in these matters. "As you know, I have passed my test for the Shawl and have been named Aes Sedai. I come to you today so that I might join the Green Ajah in it's fight against the Darkness. Will you have me?" She asked, her eyes soaking Siryan up for any sign of reaction. _________________ Aramina Sur Dulciena Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah All her life she had wanted to be a soldier. Nothing less than the wild life out beneath immense and turbulent skies, all the world her hunting ground, called to that solitary part of her that remembered stalking her quarry through Dumai’s Wells amid sparks and mud and madness. Being bound to this city burned in her like fire; so many concerns required her presence, not only in the north but way over in the land she called home where Aiel burned the Topless Towers, that it frustrated her all over again to be trapped here within these walls. On mornings like these when pale sunlight blazed across a city glittering like spun glass the open road seemed all the more tempting. Instead she stood before a window locked tight inside the white citadel. Stone walls closed in on all sides. A narrow frame shut in her view through leaded glass panes. If she had not been a sister she might have permitted herself a moment of discomfort, might have remembered how much she despised being restrained even in the smallest measure, but her folk could never be less than perfect. Rather than look out any longer at a life now forbidden to her she turned her eyes downward and contemplated instead her surviving hand laying lightly on the stone window sill … small and still, fragile as a white spider, the price of her independence. She coiled that pale hand into a fist and made herself remember nothing about fire and darkness. Like reeds and rushes those images trailed about her waiting to drag her down. Nobody was ever going to control her again. The hour wound onward while she brooded like a novice turned down for a dance. Such innocence was beyond them all in these dark times; the world was harder now and they had to be as iron. Light spilled in through a clear window and gleamed along planes of polished wood. Mechanic in her movements she set the office to rights, cleared up the evidence of another night’s hard study, returned papers to hidden places where only she might examine them. So new to this rank and already she had come to master a few of those secrets which had once belonged to her predecessor. If only she could master being Ajah Head the same way: through scanning papers, making notes, analysing; holding everything distant enough that it tested her intelligence and nothing of any more importance to her. This meant more to her than she could possibly express. Half a commitment might as well be none at all. Sometimes she figured she had forgotten how not to be Aes Sedai. At other times she remembered only too keenly. This morning, seated in a patch of bright sunlight in an office made for better women than she, Sirayn reflected on half a hundred hours she had spent as a tiny novice staring, in fear and wonder and something near to worship, at all the grand Green Ajah soldiers in their fine garb. Those soldiers now followed her every command. Her summons brought them, her orders guided them, her will guarded them. If they fell their blood stained her hands. If they succeeded the Battle Ajah ascended still further. The thought was at once thrilling and infinitely terrifying. A hundred years would never be enough to sort out everything this meant to her. Instead she focused on the morning’s black work. First petitions were possibly the most challenging part of her duties so far; even applying a little discipline, a tricky affair for one not best acquainted with the orderly process, was firmly rooted in the knowledge that the offender deserved every inch of what she was getting. Taking bright children new to the shawl and smashing apart their dreams was a filthy business. Blood and chaos in another raising not long before now had only steeled her determination to play the perfect Ajah Head … an impartial judge, even handed and fair to all, despite her misgivings … but she did not care for this at all. Outside a steady hand tapped at her door; keeping cool tones she bid them enter. One by one the party filed into the Captain General’s office. Ice grey eyes tracked each woman for an instant’s space, measuring the subtlest cues written into them, from fabulously beautiful Jaydena to diminutive Maechella only a fraction taller to herself to polished Kareja with her determination and her schemes: and for an instant pale light trapped the three Banner Captains together and she knew a brief moment of pride. These serene and iron willed women were the Green Ajah’s shield. And this child with them illustrated the brightest generation of recruits they had seen in many years. Aramina sur Dulciena. Their meetings had been intermittent to date, and neither had let anything slip beyond composure, but Sirayn counted herself intrigued by this particular raising. In purely economic terms somebody possessing all the qualities of cunning, discipline and Cairhienin heritage that came along so rarely made for a sound investment. She predicted a bright future for Aramina in the Battle Ajah … and given the auspicious way rank and age had fallen out it presented a unique opportunity for she herself to make a move. Her policy was to pick out only the stars of each generation and bind them to her cause; if she let Aramina sur Dulciena pass by, as she had let one or two slip through the net in earlier decades, it would be a great misfortune. Had she but known it a place already waited for Aramina upon her second petition. All that depended on successful testing: and the rigour and sometime cruelty of the Battle Ajah’s testing had passed into legend by now. Severe herself, her timeless features set into icy composure, she acknowledged the newest Aes Sedai’s words with the merest inclination of her head. The dice had already been thrown. It remained to see who would win this gamble. “Many have spoken the same words before you … Aramina Sedai.†Scrupulously she granted the other woman her new title, nobody would fault her on her manners, but the grey eyes remained measuring. “Why should we welcome you in where so many others have aspired? Do you bring any skills or qualities which might benefit the Battle Ajah?†_________________ Sirayn Símeone-Damodred Head of the Green Ajah - 999 NE White Tower RP Co-ordinator Her outer stillness was a perfect mask ask she watched Sirayn Sedai, watched her appraising eyes and found contempt in her voice again. “Many have spoken the same words before you … Aramina Sedai.†The title out of her mouth seemed as a joke beneath those eyes that hunted for weakness and failure. “Why should we welcome you in where so many others have aspired? Do you bring any skills or qualities which might benefit the Battle Ajah?†Aramina took a deep breath to still the anger that rose in her. She had taken the light forsaken test, had stood her night of vigil, and been put to the oaths. What more did she need to know about her? Oh, this wasn't someone who forgave or who easily put aside the past. Sirayn Sedai might say the right words at the right time, but there still lurking between them were the incidents that had brought Sirayn Sedai close enough for Aramina to know her. Perhaps she had not been so controlled on their first meeting as she had thought. Perhaps a hint of her anger at the Aes Sedai's denouncement of her had come through. There was always a price to pay. Today, petitioning for her Ajah, was apparently her day to pay the piper. Or perhaps this was to make her atone for asking her of the strengths and weaknesses of the Green Ajah. To display before all her own strengths and weaknesses. Aramina looked at the other woman again. Or perhaps she was just cruel in nature and thus taunted her for her own glee. She passed on that thought. The words so far had brought no satisfaction that she could see and Aramina refused to give her a response that would give her one. "Does any woman reach the shawl without something to give her Ajah?" She asked back, her voice serene and cool. "No woman that takes the Test is without gifts Sirayn Sedai, which you well know. I am stronger in the One Power than some in the Green Ajah," The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. It wasn't appropriate to talk about strength and in it she made the error she hadn't meant to. If Sirayn noticed, she would surely know that Aramina's calm was only surface level. Well, she made no mention of names, but the point was certainly made. She had no choice but to continue now. "So I have met any requirement you seek there. I am intelligent and play the Great Game as well as many I have met in the Tower, yet I know there is much to learn there, if perhaps there was a greater teacher. I handle a sword well, though I have known no battles. I am certain the Battle Ajah will see to it that I am not long a novice in this regard. These are the strengths and weaknesses that I possess, laid out at your feet to pick up or tread upon. Beyond these, I have the will and determination that you seek in your Sisters. Neither words, nor pain, nor grief, nor distance, nor time will sway me from my purpose here today and forever more." She looked at Sirayn Sedai, her chin up and her voice as stead as always. No sign indicating that she had been unraveled enough to speak inappropriately to the Green Ajah Head. Only the calm, collected expression that she always wore. "Tread on me if you will, or pick me up and send me to Battle." _________________ Aramina Sur Dulciena Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah As the rough and gravely voice called for them to enter she swung the door opened and closed her heart against the pain that wrenched at it each time she set eyes on one of the women she loved. She nodded her head to the Captain General, also known as Sirayn Sedai and then spoke, "We have brought Aramina Sedai to you, Captain General. She wishes to speak of becoming a Sister of the Battle Ajah." Sirayn barely moved her head and never quite locked eyes with her. Jaydena pushed down the pain at the rejection and took her place at the desk. Aramina faced them all and spoke in a controlled voice though her eyes showed the desperation she must be feeling. "As you know, I have passed my test for the Shawl and have been named Aes Sedai. I come to you today so that I might join the Green Ajah in it's fight against the Darkness. Will you have me?" Jaydena kept her eyes straight ahead and steady, just wondering if this one would cry her eyes out, yell and rage, or try and kill herself. Her lips curved in a smile as she wondered if she should expect a trend in the green recruits after that foolish move by Christine. Sirayn spoke in her controlled voice, “Many have spoken the same words before you … Aramina Sedai. Why should we welcome you in where so many others have aspired? Do you bring any skills or qualities which might benefit the Battle Ajah?†Jaydena noticed that Sirayn addressed the woman by her title and Jade knew that Sirayn must be feeling slightly cheerful to even throw her that small bit. Aramina stood for several moments as though considering her words and eyed each of them in turn before she began to speak. "Does any woman reach the shawl without something to give her Ajah? No woman that takes the Test is without gifts Sirayn Sedai, which you well know. I am stronger in the One Power than some in the Green Ajah." Jaydena's eyebrows shot up at those words and she almost laughed out loud. Not only was in rude to talk about strength in power front of anyone, she had picked entirely the wrong Green to say that in front of. Sirayn Sedai was one of the weakest in the power but what she lacked in the power she made up for in many other thing. The girl would soon learn her lesson for uttering those words in front of the Captain General. "So I have met any requirement you seek there. I am intelligent and play the Great Game as well as many I have met in the Tower, yet I know there is much to learn there, if perhaps there was a greater teacher. I handle a sword well, though I have known no battles. I am certain the Battle Ajah will see to it that I am not long a novice in this regard. These are the strengths and weaknesses that I possess, laid out at your feet to pick up or tread upon. Beyond these, I have the will and determination that you seek in your Sisters. Neither words, nor pain, nor grief, nor distance, nor time will sway me from my purpose here today and forever more." The girl had recovered quickly, but nothing would save her now and especially after that little comment. "Tread on me if you will, or pick me up and send me to Battle." Jaydena almost cackled in delight as she waited for Sirayn to take this little upstart down a few pegs... _________________ Jaydena Sedai Sitter of the Green Ooc: I was kidding that I should take Aramina down a notch for every point her One Power score was higher than mine … then I noticed that her potency is only 3 points higher. ;) In her two centuries Sirayn had weathered a good deal of provocation. These days she played a cautious game, laid her schemes behind the scenes and brought them to light only when her own position was assured; the gambling days were behind her and she certainly hoped that matters would never again become so desperate that she had to risk everything … but nevertheless, despite her best attempts at composure, there were certain topics which could still strike past her best defences. Another woman present in this office had discovered only to her cost that one did not ever call Sirayn Damodred a coward. Their youngest companion had, perhaps unwittingly, touched on another subject which caused immediate and serious outrage. By some trick of fate she had come into this world as nobody. Common born, illiterate and far removed from the kind of courts she now frequented, she had been possessed of scarcely enough strength to be worth the Tower’s time.. Any less and she would have been put out of the city and told never to return: a fact many had delighted in telling her many years ago before she got old enough and cold enough to make them regret it at length. She had scraped to the shawl only by a whisper, spent decade after decade clawing for power, exerting every ounce of her iron will to get to her current illustrious position. Nobody had given her anything. Everything she had she had earned through drive, determination and courage: all qualities she possessed in spades and which even perfect porcelain dolls like this one could not be gifted through their rich families and influential connections. She had never forgotten being the feeble one, the failure, always at a disadvantage. And nobody was ever going to use that against her again. Hence why that insult pushed her a long way toward the kind of wrath she had not unleashed since a certain other incident not so long ago. Insolent wench! Quick as a striking snake she wanted to lash out in response but to show the full extent of her fury in front of so many untrusted folk would undoubtedly be a mistake. A scathing retort was on her tongue; only with a great effort did Sirayn manage to control herself, to smooth out the impulse to teach this one a little respect. Inwardly she seethed. Had everything always been served up to this child on a plate, was life truly so easy when strength and beauty and everything else came as second nature, had she ever had to work for anything in her life? Burn her if she knew where Aramina sur Dulciena got the cheek to speak to her as if she had any right to confront an Ajah Head on her own ground, as if she should not be kneeling right now, as if that might even save her. No amount of kneeling was going to get Aramina newly Sedai out of the hole she had dug for herself. Her anger was getting out of control. Easy, she told herself in the calmest tones she could muster, easy. The other Sitters watched her with the tension ordinarily reserved for something caught caged and prone to bite; they knew, firstly, how unseemly it was to speak of strength so openly and, secondly, that that had been a direct and open taunt; how a mere scrap of a child newly raised to the shawl got the gall to speak so to her Ajah Head escaped her completely. None had seen her properly furious before, with the exception of one Jaydena Sedai, and she did not intend to give them that hold over her … but Light did she mean to make Aramina sur Dulciena regret her indiscretion. By the time she spoke again she had herself under tight control so iron it let no hint of feeling escape. “I do declare, Aramina Sedai, if I needed somebody to give grave offence you would be the first person under consideration.†Dark brows lifted a fraction in icy query. Those few cold words communicated a great deal: that her taunt had been registered and remembered; that she did not intend to let it pass; that if Aramina dared … dared … to speak to her in the same manner again it would be long and long before she opened her mouth around an older Aes Sedai again. “One does not speak openly of strength in public. That is not fitting to our station. As a side note, should you be interested in hearing it … every woman in this Ajah could destroy you in ways you don’t even know exist … and they have proven themselves a thousand times over.†Intensely she wanted to say more. Given her unprecedented strength in one particular element she was willing to bet that she could put on a show to silence any doubter; her skills were so concentrated in a narrow field that in many others she was useless but few matched her for causing massive destruction. Yet to make such an offer would be a crude attempt at intimidation and there were subtler, more acceptable ways of getting her revenge. She had honed those particular skills on a certain rival and as that woman might testify she had got very good very fast at keeping people down. “You have spoken passably well,†all business now Sirayn moved into her ceremonious speech, if with a twist of sharpness on the words, “yet I am not satisfied that you are ready to be Battle Ajah. I am looking for soldiers; you are but a child yet, young and green as a new leaf.†She derived a certain satisfaction from going through these now well known phrases; although she had turned people down before, it was usually a hard task rather than something she vindictively felt that Aramina Sedai deserved. The young sister before her had made a very grave miscalculation in crossing her Ajah Head. “You are not worthy. I will not accept you into the Battle Ajah.â€
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