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  1. Kiyi's fingers moved rhythmically, deftly, in the manner of one doing a thing so habitual that they no longer need to pay much attention to their task and indeed, her mind was occupied elsewhere. Embroidery was one of many skills she'd been taught by her mother, and it was her mother she thought of as she worked now. It was so often the case these days; wondering whether or not Margaere had completed her journey to Amadicia safely, how she was faring there, and did she miss her daughter much? Kiyi tormented herself with that last, still ambivalent over her mother's choice to go to the one place Kiyi herself could not safely go. With a sigh, she inspected the wooden hoop and its contents, checking the floral pattern gradually taking shape on the taut canvas. The colours were vibrant, pretty, reminiscent of a summer's day. It was to be a gift for Carina Sedai's study... a poor recompense for all the Sister had done, but Kiyi hoped she would like it anyway. The previous day had been exhausting. Bone deep tiring. Hours and hours of practising the weaves required during the test for the shawl. All 100 of them. In order. Just as she had done dozens of times since her Arches. First under Carina's watchful eyes and then under Nynaeve Sedai's gimlet gaze. A fond if rueful smile curved Kiyi's mouth as she considered those two very different women. Not people to be trifled with. Hard some might say, in their own inimical ways, and those people would not be wrong. But there was such depth and complexity to the Sisters that few knew about. Kiyi wasn't entirely sure how she would have survived her years in the Tower without them, conscious as ever of a deep seated gratitude to both the Brown and Yellow. "Still," she muttered under her breath, "they make the most conscientious task masters!" It had been late in the evening before Nynaeve had allowed her to return to the Accepted Quarters, and the bed she'd been yearning for; yet knowing that there were too few hours of sleep until she had to be up and at her tasks again. A sudden perfunctory rap on her door was swiftly followed by the entrance of the Mistress of Novices and Kiyi stood hurriedly, dropping a precise curtsy. Larindhra Sedai's ageless face considered her in silence for a moment and then she spoke the words Kiyi had waited so long to hear. “Kiyissalle Chevra, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe.” The woman turned on her heel without waiting for any response, already heading off down the corridor, and Kiyi hastened to catch up. It wouldn't do to be judged and found wanting for something as silly as tardiness or inattention. Not now. Not when the world was suddenly within her grasp. She schooled her face to stillness and calm as best she could, breathing deeply and refusing to let her fingers curl into the material of her dress despite their instinct to do so. She was not an inexperienced Novice any longer. Somehow, she had to wrap herself in serenity and calm before she reached their destination.
  2. Viviane pushed the potato hash around on her plate with an air of dejection. Oh, she maintained the serenity expected of an Accepted, especially one that had spent ten years wearing the banded dress; but that didn’t mean she couldn’t explore her emotions privately. It was lucky for her that none of the Sisters could hear her thoughts, otherwise, she might be treated like a Novice again… Five, that was how many girls had been tested for the Shawl in the past three months, and all five of them had been raised to the Accepted after Viviane and had obviously spent less time wearing the banded dress. It was unfair, to say the least. Viviane was leaps and bounds ahead of those girls in terms of her studies and her mastery over her own abilities. Why she had personally helped all five of those girls with their work before earning the ring! What were these Sisters thinking!? Viviane had grown used to the idea of never attaining the Shawl. She knew the Hundred Weaves, practiced them every single day… There was no question at all that she could pass whatever test the Aes Sedai had cooked up, but still, she was made to wait. Perhaps the Sisters thought that Viviane had done such a good job at mentoring Novices that they would keep her in this bloody white and banded dress forever! A punishment for her family and their ‘minor transgressions’ against the Tower from generations ago… Viviane let out a sigh despite herself. She knew none of that was true. Why she had never even heard any of the Sisters bring up her family’s history more than once or twice and that was always as an afterthought. It was clear that the Accylon women had made it a bigger deal than it was. Most of the Sisters didn’t even recall the incident. Even Viv forgot it most of the time… Twenty years in the Tower had done much to reconfigure her brain, at least that’s how the Browns put it. Finally giving up on the plate, Viv admitted to herself that she had little appetite for dinner tonight. She may very well regret that later, but she still had a few chores to do before it was bedtime. If she was really that hungry, she’d bribe one of the servants for a day old crusty roll or a bit of cheese; and then pray that they did not rat her out later. Viviane dutifully cleaned up her meal, rising from the benches, when her eyes finally left the table and fell upon a woman entering the dining area. Her breath caught in her throat, the tray almost crashing to the ground. It was the Mistress of Novices and she was wearing her Shawl… Oh, Light! Can it be…!? Viviane thought flustered as she schooled her face to remain the perfect picture of serenity. The Mistress of Novices was indeed moving in Viviane’s direction, all eyes in the room turned to stare openly at the woman. Viviane’s right hand shook slightly before she caught the twitch.
  3. Aureli watched her students file out of her classroom and gave a few of them some nods, acknowledging that they had done a good job. Now, they had to go and finish their compositions, and all she had to do was sit back and relax while she wrote the lesson plans for the next class of advanced grammar. She tucked her notes from this class into her pouch, and made to stand up. Before she started to walk to the door, however, she saw Valeri standing in her classroom door, her shawl draped over her shoulders, and Aureli's heart jumped into her throat. "Aureli Yenda, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe." It seemed all at once that the gravity of the situation settled itself onto her shoulders. Instead of hiding, she stood up straight and glided over to the Mistress of Novices, hiding her anxiety and misgivings. This woman had seen her go from a scared young girl from Tear to a capable Accepted, and if she had faith that she could pass this test, Aureli did not doubt that she could. The next time my students see me, I'll be Aes Sedai... The thought of it gave her courage to follow. The path they took around the Tower's corridors was only slightly familiar to Aureli, as she had only gone this way once, to pass through the Three Arches. As she descended the stairs with Valeri, she suddenly felt an urge to start rambling, reminiscing, telling her her fears and anxieties, but she knew that it was looked down upon to speak until her turn came. And, so she entered the bowels of the White Tower with the guiding light of the sparse lamps and torches showing them each step as they went further and further down. Valeri stopped in front of the largest doors Aureli had ever seen. For a moment, her heart started beating faster and faster, but she calmed herself, making herself breathe slowly and readying herself for the moment that they would open. Valeri embraced Saidar and opened the door with Air, as she had done on Aureli's first day in the White Tower. The doors, even though they were enormous and ancient, opened silently because of the constant maintenance to the White Tower and every detail of it. She wanted to take in the whole room, but all she saw was the ring-shaped ter'angreal in the middle of the room, hovering about the gorund, waiting for her. Before she could admire the complexity of it, the Mistress of Novices said, "Attend." A group of other sisters took that as their cue, and made a ring around the both of them. "You come in ignorance Aureli Yenda," Valeri said. "How would you depart?" "In knowledge of myself," she answered 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." "For what would you be found worthy?" "To wear the shawl." After saying this, Aureli began to disrobe. She began as she always did, by untying the knot that covered her right shoulder, letting the world know that she was missing an arm. The Mistress of Novices continued on as she prepared to be clad in the Light. "Therefore, I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground." As she channeled, Valeri drew a six-pointed star in front of Aureli. Unexpectedly, a sister began to channel behind her. She wasn't told that was going to happen, but she wasn't told much besides what to say and when. The sister behind her sent a small weave into the back of Aureli's head. She felt unsure for a moment, but these were women who would be her sisters if she could pass this test, so she took this as an exercise in trust, and kept her composure. The channeling sister said, "Remember what must be remembered." Remember? Of course she would remember. Most of her training in the White Tower had been about memorization. She let the chanting of the words continue, however, as Valeri continued. "When you see this sign, you will go to it immediately, and 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." Aureli burned the image of that star into her consciousness, remembering every detail. Would there be decoy stars with five points? "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." The small weaves caressing the back of her head felt strange, but she ignored it, listening to what she heard as she finished disrobing. She felt the weave settled onto her head, and the sisters stood around the ter'angreal in a circle, and knelt down around it. They embraced Saidar, and began weaving, making the colors in the ring shift and change rapidly. It was beautiful. Aureli was finally completely undressed except for her ring. It hadn't left her finger since the Amyrlin put it there, all those years ago. With her little finger, and her thumb, she eased it off, and placed it atop the rest of her clothes. It wasn't until that was gone that she truly felt naked, but she kept her embarrassment tucked down and away from her face. At this point, the colors of the ring had changed so swiftly that they were a bright white, and the ring began to rotate slowly. She approached the ring, watching the golden sides as it rotated away from her, and when the opening came back to her, she stepped into the light.
  4. Ay’Lira took her book and snuggled into her bed. It was a complete account move-by-move battles in the Trolloc Wars. And she definitely deserved the time to read it. At least she thought she did. She had written a good thesis about three Amyrlins raised from the Gray. And now, she could enjoy her favorite subject in history…battles. She opened the book to the first page and only read the first two words before her door flung open. She lowered the book and looked up to find Valeri Sedai wearing her shawl. Any questions she had in her mind waited for the Mistress of Novices spoke. “Ay’Lira Sonoran, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe.” So, she wasn’t in trouble. No, it was something much more grave than that. All the work she had done over the past couple of decades or so was about to be put to the test. No, it was something much worse. Closing her book and setting it down, she stood up and following the Aes Sedai out. Much like when she had gone down to the bowels of the Tower for her test to become Accepted, the room where she would take the test for the shawl was far down a spiraling staircase under the Tower. Every step, every second before they reached the room seemed like a year! She soothed herself, reminding herself that Valeri wouldn’t have summoned her if she wasn’t ready. Finally, the Mistress of Novices stopped at a pair of double doors and opened them with a weave of Air. There were so many details about the room that she couldn’t take them all in before it began. But she did notice all the power going into the slowly spinning in the in the middle of the room. “Attend,” Valeri said in a strong voice. Seven sisters, all in their shawls, one from each Ajah, stood around the Mistress of Novices and Ay’Lira. “You come in ignorance, Ay’Lira Sonoran. How would you depart?” Valeri asked. “In knowledge of myself,” Ay’Lira answered. “For what reason have you been summoned here?” “To be tried.” “For what reason should you be tried?” “So that I may learn whether I am worthy.” “For what should you be found worthy?” “To wear the shawl.” After that, Ay’Lira began to disrobe. As she did, the Mistress of Novices continued. “Therefore, I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” The Aes Sedai channeled and traced a six-pointed star with her finger in the air. Oddly enough, as she demonstrated, a sister began to channel behind Ay’Lira as she continued to disrobe and lightly touched her head with the weave. Strange, that. She didn’t let any surprise show, though. To become an Aes Sedai, she had to trust them whether or not she knew their reasons. “Remember what must be remembered,” the unseen sister said. “When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power. The weaving required must begin immediately, and you may not leave that sign until it is completed.” “Remember what must be remembered.” “When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation.” “Remember what must be remembered.” “One hundred times you will weave, in the order you have been give and in perfect composure.” “Remember what must be remembered.” Ay’Lira soaked every word as it was spoken to her, even the “remember what must be remembered” part. The weave the sister was weaving settled in, and the seven sisters surrounding the ring. As she continued to undress, she felt all seven of them begin to channel, and channel complex weaves at that. She didn’t show any hesitation or falter at all as she finished, placing her Great Serpent ring on top of her folded clothes. She waited calmly for the signal from the ring ter’angreal. When she saw the air in it gleam completely white, she stepped through… Looking around, Ay’Lira decided she was in an empty manor. She saw no one, heard no one. The unfamiliar surroundings made her want to hide, but she had to keep perfect composure. She had to keep calm. Walking forward, she wondered why she was nude, and where her clothes might have gone. As she moved through the grand parlor, she spotted a simply cut but elegant silk dress, shift, stockings, and slippers. Not hurrying, but not hesitating either, she walk to the table that had the clothes and dressed at a steady pace. Once she was properly covered, she continued to walk, striding down the hallway connected to the only door in this unusual place. As she walked, she began to hear people move around. Even though she was dressed for this place, she felt very unwelcome, very out-of-place. But she kept her discomfort down. It did not show on her face. She couldn’t let it. The population of this once desolate place grew denser and denser. People cropped up out of nowhere now. Where under the Light were they coming from? As she moved down the hall, they began to cover amused smiles while looking at her. They snickered and murmured. She wondered what they found so amusing about her. But she kept her eyes forward, gliding down the hall until she reached a large ballroom. Lords and ladies flitted about, some dancing, some talking, but most still looking curiously at her. She wanted desperately to stop and demand what amused them so. But she kept walking, weaving through dancing, talking, and amused nobility until she saw it. There was a six-pointed star in the middle of the dance floor. Couples swirled and twirled around and atop it. She kept her shoulders straight and her face bare of any emotions as she made her way through the throngs of people. This time, she didn’t weave, she asserted her unusual authority, and people backed away, embarrassed to be seen with a creature as strange as her. As soon as her feet were planted on the star, she embraced Saidar, and as soon as she began to weave the first required weave, the music she hadn’t noticed before changed tune, and all the party-goers began to dance in a uniform motion. When she saw the immediate uniform movement, she immediately split a weave and made a wall of Air around her, making sure the couples wouldn’t knock her off the star. Once the weave was complete, the music died down again, and the people spread out, paying her no mind whatsoever. She left the star and headed toward the new one now hanging over the door leading out… Ay’Lira’s bare foot stepped on something that made a distinctive squish sound. She kept moving, but also looked down to see what she had stepped in. It was mud. But it wasn’t mud that one simply saw after rain. This was mud that was filled with decades of rotten plant fodder. It was green and black, and it stank of the Blight. Her face did not twist, her nose did not twitch. But she did keep a keen eye on the surroundings. The Blight did not accommodate to anyone. She did wish she had some clothes, though. As she thought that, a pair of trousers, a good shirt, and a coat appeared on some unusually clean branches of trees, some good boots hanging along with them. She dressed steadily and headed out again. The trees were black, not with death, but with decay. The plants were the same, but they seemed to have oddly-colored spots on them. Whenever something made a noise, she followed it with her eyes, but usually found nothing. She walked until she found a six-pointed star marked out in twisted sticks left in the mud. Stepping into the star, she embraced Saidar and began to construct the second weave. As soon as she brought out the barest amount of Air, Fire, and Earth, a Myrdraal appeared in front of her. It smiled at her, but before its smile could reach its eyeless gaze, she split the weave of Fire and burned its head off. The thing thrashed on the ground, scrabbling for its sword as she continued to weave her required second weave. The thing was grotesque and demanded her attention, but she ignored it. She added the Spirit and finished the second weave. The gnarled and decayed branches of the black trees formed the same six-pointed star she had just left. She walked under the branches, and… Her home felt so strange without anyone in it. And she felt stranger standing in her kitchen bare of clothing. She didn’t know where her family had gone, or how she had gotten to the kitchen without a stitch of cloths. But she knew she had to find the six-pointed star, weave the third required weave, and keep a completely calm exterior during all of it. Her simple preferred clothes appeared on her kitchen table: good woolen trousers, simple boots, and a good shirt. She dressed herself and walked through her house. The star was not here, and neither was her family. So, she went outside. She headed from her house toward the Seven Towers. Her father might be at work, or her mother. But more importantly, the star would be likely to be there. But as she walked through the streets, she saw it etched out in stones right in front of the main entrance of the Towers. When she reached it, she began to weave Air, Earth, and Spirit. In the corner of her vision, and in one of the arrow slits of the closest Tower, she saw movement. She split the weave of Air and sent a long weave to her target while keeping the complicated weave in its place. The extra weave of Air grabbed the arrow aimed at her and the bow that was about to shoot it and likely others. The bow and arrow dropped harmlessly to the ground, and a curse came out of the arrow slit. The assassin probably wasn’t done, but she kept weaving. Air, Earth, and Spirit began to look like a circle of lace. Ay’Lira was almost finished when the lone assassin came running out of the tower and rushing at her with a sword. She dispatched of the sword in much the same way she had the bow and arrow, but he kept running, now with a brandished knife. This time, she just tied him in ropes of Air and tied off the weave, finishing the required one. She turned around and saw a six-pointed star above an inn. The assassin shouted curses and obscenities at her as she walked away, saying that he had killed her family, had killed her friends, had killed anyone she loved, screaming her name. His voice sounded familiar, but she didn’t turn around. She didn’t want to confirm that this was her innocent little brother. She walked under the star… Ay’Lira was beginning to feel tired, but she didn’t let her posture or her face show it. She had to be calm, and keep going at a steady pace. Her bare feet hit rocks. Not stepping stones, but large pieces of earth. Looking up, she saw the top of a mountain. But, the tip wasn’t there…was it a volcano? Looking down, she saw nothing but forest. She looked up and saw the six-pointed star up the mountain, not very far away. As she began to climb, she found a simple woolen dress and boots. A dress wasn’t the best thing to climb in, but it was better than her skin. She dressed and headed up again. The vague pathway up the mountain slowly went away during her ascent, and she was forced to climb on all fours, but she still kept her face smooth, and her pace steady. It was hard to keep her breathing steady, but she managed it. When she finally reached the star, she stood on steady feet. She had to keep her feet apart, but she still stood. As she embraced Saidar, the ground moved and the mountain did indeed prove to be a volcano. She began to ready her weave with weaves of Air, Earth, Water, and Spirit. She split the weave of Earth and sent it into the volcano. She raised the earth around her to divert the oncoming lava at a wide angle. She wove the weave, careful to watch the lava, making sure that it didn’t go over the wall. Light, but it was hot! Her breathing became labored, but her face didn’t show the strain. As she expected, the lava did come over the wall of earth, but she sent split weaves of Water and Air at the molten earth until it hardened. Wanting to sigh in relief, she kept it away and finished the weave. When it was done, she looked around and noticed the lava around her was all hardened. There was also a good wide path leading to an opening of a cave with the six-pointed star on it. As she stepped over the hardened lava, she was glad for the boot. It was no longer hot enough to kill, but she could still feel the heat. She stepped off the lava and walked into the cave… Ay’Lira found herself in a small room in the Seven Towers. Next to her was a beautifully cut blue dress, a shift, and slippers to match. She dressed herself, and stepped out of the room. She had to find the last six-pointed star, and weave the hundredth weave. Stepping out of the room, she found herself in the servants quarters. She had spent so many happy days here with Benna. As she scanned the halls, she saw dark residue on the walls. Was it blood? Turning down the hall, she moved toward the main galleries and found that it was dried blood. The fall. She hadn’t been here since the fall. If she had, she would have gone into the Blight. Bodies were scattered everywhere. But not fresh ones. They were all decaying, not quite skeletons, and they all smelled terrible. She did not to look at the faces to see if she knew anyone. She just kept walking, dust and dried blood beginning to collect on her skirt. She was drawn to the throne room where the floor was absolutely littered with bodies. Some of the bodies were Trollocs and Myrdraal, but most of them were human. She tried not to think that her father would likely be one of them. In the middle of the floor, she found a six-pointed star etched out in black tiles against the predominant white. Ay’Lira wove around the bodies, keeping her eyes on the star. As she approached, she heard someone running toward her, shouting her name. Looking back, but not startled, she found her younger brother Teru. He was dirty, had a beard growing, and tears in his eyes. “Lira, you’re back! What are you doing here?” he asked as she continued to walk. “I have a purpose here,” she said simply, still moving to the star. “A purpose? What is it?” “I need to complete something.” “Well…can I help?” “No, this is something only I can do.” “When you’re finished…you can come live with us again. We’re living in Fal Moran now. I’m one of the defenders against the Blight, can you believe it?” There was a touch of excitement in his voice. The same little boy she had played with and taught archery to all those years ago… She bit back the tears. “No, I cannot. Tell mother and Benna that I love them, yourself as well,” she said as she stepped into the star and wove the last weave. When it was done, there was a spray of colors… And she was back in the room of the testing. She stumbled, but didn’t fall as she walked toward Valeri, but she didn’t go very far. She couldn’t believe how different Teru was. Out of all those memories, her brother as a desperate assassin and her brother as a proud defender of Fal Moran…which one had he become? Valeri’s clapping snapped her to attention. “It is done. Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.” She clapped again. “Ay’Lira Sonoran, you will spend the night in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on the morrow, when you don the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.” With that, she clapped yet again, and left the room. As the seven Sisters crowded her, they asked if she would like a Healing. Looking down, she saw herself covered in scrapes, cuts, and bruises. The Yellow Healed her after she accepted it, and almost let out a shout of the surprise of coldness. She dressed herself in her own clothes, putting on the ring first. The sisters escorted her to her room. It was late at night, and everyone was asleep when she came back to her room. After she ate the food left for her, she tried to pray and contemplate, but she was far too tired. She drifted off to sleep, not bothering to cover herself with her blankets, and not bothering to strip to her shift… Ay’Lira woke up perhaps three hours later, by her guess, and brushed her hair out, smoothing out of skirt. She drank some water, checked herself in the mirror, and sat back down on her bed. A smile crept up on her lips. She had passed the test. She passed! The enormity hadn’t quite hit her last night. But she woke up now, excited for what was to come. But she knew she still had to maintain her calm, so she allowed some of her pent-up giggles to escape. She caught her breath, schooling herself, and waited. A few minutes later, there were three knocks on the door. Standing, she walked to the door and opened it. A Red sister stood with six others, one for each Ajah. They stood in silence, but didn’t have to wait long for her to join them. They left with her and escorted her back to the room where she had tested. The Sitters from each Ajahs were there with one other sister there, holding a shawl. She couldn’t see all of it from where she stood at the doorway, but she knew the ceremony by heart. They were all shawled, and the Amyrlin and Keeper were stoled. “Who comes here?” asked the Amyrlin. “Ay’Lira Sonoran,” she answered. “For what reason do you come?” “To swear the Three Oaths and thereby gain the shawl of an Aes Sedai.” “By what right do you claim this burden?” “By right of having made the passage, submitting myself to the will of the Tower.” “Then enter, if you dare, and bind yourself to the Tower.” Ay’Lira entered, keeping her countenance, serene and confident. She walked through the now still ring, but when she walked through, she was still in the same room. She had halfway expected another test. She found her way to the Amyrlin and knelt. Now with the Oath rod in front of her, she channeled just a bit of Spirit. “Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true. Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will not make one weapon for one man to kill another. Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will never use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme of defending my life, or that of my Warder, or another Sister.” Ay’Lira noticed that as she swore each Oath, her skin tightened. But again, she wasn’t surprised with the unexpected effect. She handed the Oath Rod back to the Amyrlin. The Amyrlin said, “It is half done, and the White Tower graven on your bones. Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah and all will be done that may be done under the Light.” Ay’Lira rose, now an Aes Sedai. No longer a “child”, and walked among the rows of sisters. When she had finally chosen her Ajah, she wondered to herself what took her so long to make that decision. But now she knew, no matter what hesitations she may have taken. And now she stood in front of the Greens, awaiting their words.
  5. Talina found her working in a small study alcove, deep in the Tower Library. She had four different books open, each one by a different author trying to explain how the nations fragmented after Artur Hawkwing died. Each theory seemed like a partial explanation, while none seemed to explain the entire situation. To Gera’s thinking, the only thing that could unite the theories to explain the thoroughness and duration of the collapse was a unifying direction that oversaw the entire collapse. Most scholars disregarded that possibility because the collapse lasted several centuries, but they did not account for the extended lifespan of a channeler. If an Aes Sedai, or Light forbid, a Dreadlord chose to intervene they could easily orchestrate the entire collapse. When Gera looked up and saw the Mistress of Novices standing there, she quickly got to her feet and curtsied to the appropriate degree. Ever since that rather thorough punishment for rudeness to a Sitter, Gera had respected the old biddy... even while she longed for the day when she would be her equal. “Gera Mondwin, it is time. You are called to be tested for the Shawl and ring. Are you ready?” There was just a hint of a challenge in her tone, as if she expected the older Accepted to fail, to ask for more time. “Yes, Talina Sedai, I am ready.” She put steel in her voice, respectful steel. “Then follow me.” The Mistress lead Gera deep into the Tower, along a similar path to the one she took a few years prior for her test to be raised Accepted. Inside the large room, Gera saw seven sisters waiting for them, all wearing their shawls proclaiming their ajahs. “Attend,” Talina’s word seemed to fill the chamber as the Aes Sedai formed a ring around the Mistress of Novices and Gera. “You come in ignorance, Gera Mondwin. How would you depart?” “In knowledge of myself,” was the only acceptable reply. “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.” Gera knew that she was worthy of the shawl. She had to be. If she failed now, she would simply be an old spy mistress cast out into the world by the Tower. It was either succeed here, or relegate herself to a life of faded joys, her failure overshadowing everything else. She was worthy. “For what would you be found worthy?” “To wear the shawl.” Gera knew that hers would bear a blue fringe. At the word, Gera began disrobing, as she knew she must. Let the sisters in the room see her over-round flesh. She had lived her years. “Therefore I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” Talina spoke, even as Gera stripped. She channeled, and a silver, six pointed star appeared in the air. As Gera nodded, she felt another woman channeling behind her, and a weave of spirit settled into the back of her head. It felt much like Healing. “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.” That voice coming from behind was a minor irritation, but Gera ignored the irritation and focused on the instructions. “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 will you weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.” “Remember what must be remembered.” Gera felt those words had been etched onto each inch of her skull. She would not forget, the instructions or the words. Moving without signal, the seven sisters walked to the ter’angreal and knelt at its base. The pattern they wove of the power was incredible, and Gera felt a small bit of joy at the skill they obviously had. A task well performed was always a joyful thing. As the Power flowed into the ter’angreal, it began to rotate, slowly, colors flashing across the opening... faster and faster it moved, until suddenly the opening went solid white. That was her cue. Gathering her dignity, despite her nudity, Gera entered the ring. She was standing before the Amyrlin Seat, wearing her banded dress, all around Sitters glared. For some reason, they were deadly angry at her, and nothing she could do would change that. A quiet voice spoke behind her ear, “Remember...” Scanning the room, Gera found the six pointed star and walked toward it. A part of her heard the Sitters anger rising, but the more dominant part simply kept walking to the star. When she arrived, she began the appropriate weave. When it was finished, a blue coin appeared in the air where she had been weaving. Suddenly the Sitters stopped speaking, and Gera turned to walk toward the shining star. When her foot touched it, she found herself wading through hip-deep mud. She had never been in such a place, but she knew she hated it. There was a six pointed star to her left, so she walked toward it. With each step, she felt new disgusting things touch her, crawl on her, or attach themselves to her body. At the star, which was carved into a tree trunk, Gera wove the mandatory weave... and when it snapped into existence, she sighed. Had she made a mistake, she would have received a painful shock, which would only be made worse by the mud surrounding her. The next star was higher up in the tree, so she hoisted herself out of the mud and climbed for it. As her hand touched it, she found herself covered in mud in the middle of a ballroom. All around her were her friends, allies, and enemies. They were all dressed for a standard Cairhienin ball, but there she was wearing nothing but a thick layer of mud. In the center of the room, tiles described the six pointed star. Gathering her courage and the shreds of her dignity, Gera walked to the center of the room, ignoring the stares and snickers of the crowd. No one said anything to her directly, but she burned with the shame of walking in front of their stares. As she neared the star, their snickers and stares erupted into full laughter, and Gera’s shame burned brighter on her cheeks. She kept walking though, slowly and evenly. At the star, she wove, holding back tears. It went on. Each circumstance was worse than the last. There were some with physical pain, but Gera ignored those easily, so they stopped coming. It was as if someone noticed that the shameful scenarios caused her the most distress. In fact, during the 76th weave, she found herself in a bawdy dance hall, surrounded by girls and women wearing dresses so revealing that their cleavage ended a hand above where the slit in the skirts started. With each new scene, Gera forgot the details of why she was there and how, but a part of her remembered the shame. The weight of the shame kept growing. With each scene, her blush deepened, and it became harder to keep her composure. Shame was growing close to breaking her. The calm she wore on her face was a thin, brittle shell, but she still looked calm. She wasn’t sure why, but every part of her being was focused on maintaining her calm expression and steady pace. The shame and pain from each of the previous tortuous scenes had her wanting to weep, but she refused. She would not give up. The 84th weave came and went, with stinging nettles lashed across her back. The 96th involved walking through her son’s bedroom... while he bled to death. As soon as she reached the star and began that weave, she wove what little healing she was able to... but it was not enough. 97, 98, and 99 passed with simply variations on embarrassing situations in front of large crowds. Apparently, seeing her son die in front of her was enough to inure her to the shame. Weave number 100 created a fountain of sparks while Gera pulled a carriage by her own strength. Having a driver whipping her on added insult to injury... and yet more injury on top of the insult. Somehow, she managed to walk forward at a steady pace, despite pulling the carriage behind her. Gera suspected it might have been sheer willpower at that point. Once she finished the final weave and stepped onto the final six pointed star, the world around her vanished in a blinding light and she was back in the bowels of the Tower, surrounded by the seven Aes Sedai and Talina Sedai. The memories of the 100 different scenes suddenly crashed down on her, and Gera burst into tears. She cried in a way she hadn’t since she was a child. The Aes Sedai clustered around her, hugging and offering her their sympathy. One Healed her, without asking, but Gera was grateful anyway. Though physical pain was not their favorite in her tests, they still had used it. With a clap, Talina called the sisters back to attention. “Sisters, do you agree that Gera Mondwin, Accepted of the White Tower, has passed her test to prove her worthiness to wear our shawl and call us sisters?” Each of the women nodded, some more quickly than others, until the last held still. She was the Red sister, a bitter old thing, if Gera guessed properly. The Cairhienin woman knew she had blushed and that she’d nearly been broken, but she’d kept the appearance of calmness throughout the test. And the appearance was all that mattered, at least that is what they were taught. You could be a quivering wreck inside, so long as you kept your face neutral and your pace steady. An Aes Sedai must always be poised and ready to handle whatever situation came before her. It was much like playing Daes Dae’mar... just you were always surrounded by enemies and could never relax. It would be a hard life... but it would be hers. She had earned it. She had worked hard for years and passed this horrid test. It was a formality, waiting for the Red’s vote. The others had all agreed, but still every vote must be counted. Finally, she nodded, and Gera knew she would be Aes Sedai. The rest of the evening was a blur. Talina lead her back to her rooms, where a meal waited for her, and she was instructed to pray and meditate on her new life. After eating the meal, Gera decided to meditate by closing her eyes and laying down peacefully. Hours later, a knock interrupted her meditations, and she climbed off her bed. Outside her door was a group of Sisters, the Green, Blue, Yellow and Grey from the previous night’s testing. Silently, they formed a ring around Gera, and then all five began walking. The path was the same as it was the night before, but the room was markedly more full this morning. Inside were the Sitters of all seven Ajahs, the Keeper, and the most powerful woman in the world... the Amyrlin Seat. Despite having stood in front of her for judgment in both her tests, Gera had never actually met the woman. Today, the Amyrlin would welcome her home as one of her Aes Sedai. Passing through the ring, Gera moved to the Keeper and the Amyrlin. Words were spoken, but she didn’t remember them. Then it was time to take the oaths. Taking up the rod, held on a pillow by the Keeper, Gera channeled Spirit into the appropriate end. “Under the Light and by my hope of rebirth and salvation, I Gera Mondwin swear to speak no word that is not true. Under the Light and by my hope of rebirth and salvation, I Gera Mondwin swear to make no weapon by which one man may kill another. Under the Light and by my hope of rebirth and salvation, I Gera Mondwin swear never to use the One Power as a weapon, except against Darkfriends or Shadowspawn, or in the last defense of my life, the life of another sister, or the life of my warder.” With each clause, each phrase, Gera felt an invisible layer of power tighten down on her. She was truly bound now. After she set the Oath Rod down on its pillow, the Amyrlin and Keeper left, quietly. Looking at the groups of Sitters, Gera sighed. Now, to make another life changing decision. Really, there was only one choice for her. None of the others fit her properly, though the Grey and Red came close. She would be a Blue. As soon as the other Sitters recognized her intent, they dispersed, leaving Gera alone with the Blue Sitters, and one other sister. Gera recognized her as a rather recently raised woman. Smiling, Gera knelt in front of the women. “I seek to join the Blue Ajah. May I be admitted?”
  6. The weave of Spirit formed easily for Elin, as they almost always did, and Elin split her flow into a second weave designed to slash other weaves, then a third, a shield, designed to cut another channeler off from the source. Her lessons with Rochel Sedai had inspired the Accepted to continue her work with Spirit, especially shields and defensive uses of the Power. She was alone in that quiet garden near the Red quarters, and she let the weaves dissipate. Sitting on a marble bench, she stroked the bands at her hem. Those seven stripes were dear to her, and she had worked to earn them. She had been an Accepted for many years, and she had passed her thirtieth birthday here in the Tower. Soon she will have spent more years in the Tower than she did in Amadicia. Back home, her brothers and sisters had probably married and had children of their own. Of course, Elin couldn’t visit them. She had obviously slowed, and it would be noticed if she came home looking a decade younger than she had any right to be. They were out of her life now, and the most she could do would be to look out for her family from a distance as much as she was able. The sound of a slipper on the stone of the garden pulled her out of her reverie, and she looked up just in time to see Valeri Sedai standing there, wearing her shawl. “Elin Hawes, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The light see you safe and keep you whole.” Without a word, because any noise from her would be a failure, Elin stood and followed Valeri. The path was familiar, and it felt like just the other day Elin had followed this woman along this same path to pass through the arches ter’angreal that marked her as Accepted. It was more than just days, though. In fact, years had passed, and in those years Elin had grown into a woman. When she had arrived at the Tower, she had been afraid, timid, still traumatized by the death of her twin. Becoming Accepted had forced her to face the harsh realities that she wasn’t just leaving her brother behind, but her whole family. She made her choice, and she was sure that she had made the right choice and she had bound herself to the Tower. Her face smooth, Elin followed Valeri into the solid stone chamber where the oval ring sat. Every Accepted knew the purpose of this ter’angreal, and Elin worked to keep her face smooth. This test would make the arches look like child’s play. Barely noticing the massive doors or the almost blindingly white walls, Elin only had eyes for the ter’angreal. It was shining silver, then pearl, then white, then gold, and yet more colors as Elin watched it. Around the room stood several Aes Sedai, all wearing their shawls, all judging her. If she so much as let a single crease show across her brow, she would fail. “Attend,” Valeri’s word seemed to fill the chamber as the Aes Sedai formed a ring around the Mistress of Novices and the Accepted. “You come in ignorance, Elin Hawes. How would you depart?” The ritual answer came to Elin’s lips without thought, “In knowledge of myself.” “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.” In her heart, Elin knew she was worthy. She had to be. If she failed here, no one would seek out those poor souls being put on sham trials and executed simply for being suspected of being able to channel. “For what would you be found worthy?” “To wear the shawl.” The word filled Elin with a sense of pride. She would have a lovely crimson fringe on her shawl. As the last word died in the stillness of the air, Elin stripped out of her Accepted dress, watching as Valeri continued speaking. “Therefore I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground.” She channeled, and a silver, six pointed star appeared in the air. As Elin nodded, she felt another woman channeling behind her, and a weave of spirit settled into her skull. “Remember what must be remembered.” Elin resisted the urge to arch an eyebrow. This was not part of the ceremony... or at least what the Accepted were taught about it. A small part of Elin’s mind wondered about that weave. It was sure to be mostly Spirit, and it likely could be altered... Elin cut off that train of thought. She would ask to learn the weave once she wore the Shawl. Valeri was speaking again. “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.” That voice coming from behind was a minor irritation. The least the woman could do was speak from in front so Elin could see her too. “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 will you weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.” “Remember what must be remembered.” Elin let the urge to mutter about that phrase sink into her and pass without acting on it. One hundred weaves that every Accepted learned and knew by heart. It was time to perform them, not being tested by her friends, but with real sisters judging her. Suddenly, the weave she felt behind her settled into her flesh, and she fought the need to shiver. Moving without signal, the seven sisters walked to the ter’angreal and knelt at its base. They all began weaving a tapestry of the five powers, more complex than most weaves. The oval began to increase the speed of the flow of its colors, and suddenly the opening flashed white. The last bit of covering she had was her Great Serpent ring, and without showing her pain at giving it up, Elin set it atop her pile of clothing. Then she stepped into that blinding light, and was suddenly somewhere else. She was naked, but she knew she could not react to that fact. There was a comfortable, black dress sitting on the ground next to her, and she calmly bent to gather it and dress. Once she was clothed, she saw a six pointed star inlaid on the hardpacked ground. With a small smile, Elin began walking toward the star. As she walked, the dress became tighter and tighter. Each step brought the seams in tighter. The high neck was suddenly a cinch around her neck. Despite the fact that she was being strangled, she kept her face smooth and merely walked to the star. When she arrived, the dress was cutting off the air in her throat, the blood to her arms, and it felt like it would cut her in half at the waist. Ignoring those facts, she channeled the first weave, the only weave her mind would let her channel. A blue coin popped into existence, and suddenly the dress was the correct size again. To her right, a six pointed star sat above an archway. With her hands held at her waist, Elin walked to the arch. The second she passed under the arch, she was wearing a ball gown in the most comlex of Cairhienin styles. Elin was surrounded by a horde of angry women, their hands turned to claws. They each screamed vile words and phrases at her, some were so bold to reach for her dress and tear the slashes that denote rank clean off her dress. These women obviously did not think Elin deserved to claim the rank the slashes spoke to, and so they were tearing her down, literally. Ignoring them, Elin walked through the room at a stately pace toward the tiled six pointed star, and once she reached it, the tangled web practically sprang into existence. This weave was difficult for Elin because it involved so much Earth, but she kept her face serene while the women tore the gown off her back. Once the weave was formed, Elin smiled. She hadn’t been shocked. To her left was a door in the shape of a six pointed star, and Elin walked toward it. In the next room, she was somewhere else again. She was still naked, and still had some of the scratches... but she didn’t know why she was scratched. There was a dress sitting on a chair next to her, so she put it on, along with the slippers that sat under it. Across the room was a pattern of wooden slats in the floor, in the shape of a six pointed star. Walking to it, Elin felt the cool air on her ankles. That was wrong, but she didn’t let her confusion show. She knew that she had to remain entirely emotionless throughout... whatever this was that was going on. Suddenly, there was a drunken man leering at her, and she felt the air blowing on her shins. What had been a full dress now ended at her knees. With each step, more fabric disappeared, and more men appeared. At the star, she barely had a collar of fabric anymore. As she began to weave the lacey mixture of Air, Earth, and Spirit, even that small collar disappeared. She couldn’t help but blush at that moment. Situation after situation passed. Some were merely embarrassing for her, like the disappearing dress, while others were hazardous to her health, like a pitched battlefield she had to cross without letting a single emotion show be it fear, concern, worry, or any other fleeting feeling that might want to cross her face. Every time her mind blanked, she found herself somewhere new, but she still had any injuries she’d received previously. It definitely confused Elin to find herself nude with scratches, gouges and bruises all over her body. After 99 weaves, Elin found herself standing in her village square in front of her family’s mill. Part of her knew that almost two decades had passed since she had left that village, but another part saw the wood piled up at the base of a stake. Tied to the stake was her brother Nile. The fire hadn’t caught yet at the woodpile, but Elin knew she could stop the fire from catching at all... but she could not channel until she reached the silver star marked out in stones in the middle of the road out of town. She was wearing the traditional dress and bonnet, even her baking apron, and as she walked, her back to Nile on the stake, she heard his cries. She heard the crackle as the flames caught on the wood. She smelled the scent of roasting flesh. When she reached the star, she began channeling the required weave. Turning back to her brother, she could see that he still lived. Splitting her flows, she continued the required weave while also creating a large ball of water that she let fall onto the flames, dousing them. Nile wept with mingled relief and pain. As she finished the final weave, it erupted into sparks. Down the path leading out of town, Elin saw a pair of trees tied together to form an arch, with a shining star high in their branches. Walking down the path, Elin kept her face smooth even though she heard Nile calling for her again, knowing that the villages wouldn’t let a single doused fire stop them. When she passed under the arch, she found herself back in the basements of the Tower outside the oval ter’angreal. Suddenly it all crashed down onto Elin. Every person she had walked away from, every pain inflicted on her, every shame. Then she saw Valeri Sedai. “It is done. Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.” She clapped her hands. “Elin Hawes, you will spend tonight in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on the morrow, when you don the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.” When Valeri left, Elin stood in the center of the seven sisters who all offered her Healing for her many wounds, and Elin knew that they had created the scenes she had lived through. A part of her wondered who had put Nile onto the stake... but she set that part of her aside. These women were now her sisters. Dressing in her Accepted’s dress for what would be the second to last time, Elin slipped her ring back onto her finger and was escorted back to her room by the sister from the Red and a sister from the Blue. At her door, she smiled at the women, and nodded to them. She had passed her tests, so she no longer had to curtsy. In her bed, she knew her body was exhausted, but her mind was reliving the test. She finally fell asleep, her fingers twitching as she imagined weaving the hundred weaves again. The next morning, she woke early and tidied her room for the last time. When the knock at her door came, she smiled and set down her brush. Her black curls were shining, and she was ready. Outside her door were seven Aes Sedai, one from each Ajah. She nodded to them, and they formed a circle around her. No one said a word, and Elin knew that was how it was meant to be. They retraced the steps from the night before back to the ter’angreal room, when the door opened, the seven sisters left Elin to walk through on her own. Inside the room, there were thirty women in the room waiting for her. The three sitters for each ajah, the Keeper and the Amyrlin. Elin had never had cause to wait on Shevarra Sedai. The Amyrlin tended to keep to herself. The remaining seven women were the newest members of their ajahs, and they each held a shawl with their bright fringes. Elin stepped through the ter’angreal again, knowing that nothing would happen to her this time. With a smooth face, but pride in her heart, Elin walked to the Amyrlin. “Who comes here.” Shevarra’s voice filled the chamber. With a loud, clear voice, Elin spoke her named. “Elin Hawes.” “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 come, if you dare, and bind yourself to the White Tower.” Elin stepped closer, and took the Oath Rod from the plush pillow it rested on in the Keeper’s hands. While it was in her hands, Shevarra Sedai channeled Spirit into the end with the Old Tongue numeral, and Elin knew it was time. “Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.” As soon as she finished the sentence, she felt like her skin was suddenly tighter than it had been moments before. “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.” When the words were finished, the invisible screws that were tightening her skin ratcheted another notch, pulling her skin even tighter than before. “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 Darkfriends and shadowspawn, or in the last extreme of defending my life, or that of my warder, or another sister.” Elin knew that she would have to live with this oath as close as a lover if she wished to live the life she had planned, despite its mention of a warder. She would be a Red, and they had always eschewed warders. When the Oath settled into her flesh, Elin rose to her feet and handed the Rod to the Amyrlin. With a small smile, the Amyrlin spoke again. “It is half done, daughter, and the White Tower is graven onto your bones. Come now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah and all will be done that may be done under the Light.” Elin curtsied to the Amyrlin, as was proper, and then turned to the assembled Sisters. She smiled at the Green and Blue sisters, knowing that if things had happened differently, she might have found a home there, but she turned her back on them and walked past the Yellows, Grays, Whites, and Browns. She walked Home to the warm embrace of the Red Ajah. It was time to deal with the formalities. She would be a sister of the Red Ajah tonight. There was no other option.
  7. OOC: Being called to the Testing -- It's really long, so I'm breaking into sections, each one is preceded with the topic of each post so you can skim to the parts you want to read if you don't want to read it all at one (or at all ;) ) Kathleen was sitting in the dinning hall enjoying a late lunch. Most of the room was deserted with a few small pockets of Novices who had been busy during the main part of the lunch hour, most likely bringing some Aes Sedai their lunch. Kathleen sat alone but she wasn't upset. She was not in the mood to be around people. She had a bit of rough day and was starting to feel her afternoon slump settling in. She was hoping the soup and roll she had gotten would be enough to give her the boost she needed to get her feeling like normal again. Just as she was finishing the last little bit she saw Pia Sedai enter the dining hall. At first Kathleen paid no attention, it was not unusual for the Mistress of Novices to take a late lunch but there did seem to be something strange about it today. As the Gray got closer and Kathleen took the last sip of her drink she realized what made her feel so strange, Pia was not heading toward the food, but directly toward Kathleen, and the Mistress of Novices was wearing her shawl. As Pia reached the table Kathleen was suprised at she said, "Kathleen Vandiar, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai. The Light keep you whole and see you safe." The novices across the dining room all stopped their conversation and stared as Kathleen slowly took in what the Aes Sedai had just said and rose to meet her. Kathleen followed the Mistress of Novices out of the dining hall and down into the depths of the White Tower. They walked in silence but Kathleen's mind had never been more a buzz. She had known this day was coming for some time, but she was not expecting it today. As they walked underground through the surprisingly large and well lit corridors Kathleen hardly even took in the magnificence of it all as she tried to settle the bundle of nerves settling into her stomach and slow the stream of thoughts and worries that filled her head. She was quickly going through the list of 100 weaves in the order she had memorized over the last few years, just to review one more time, when they arrived at the extraordinary doors. At first Kathleen didn't know what she was looking at and it wasn't until she really looked that she saw what she thought was an impossibly large polished gate far under the Tower. Just as Kathleen was trying to figure out how to get in she saw the glow of Saidar encompass the Mistress of Novices and to Kathleen's surprise the massive doors silently opened. The chamber that opened up to them was large, circular and domed. The walls were white stone and ringed with stand-lamps whose light was reflected onto them making the chamber glaringly bright when compared to the halls they were leaving. In the center of the room directly beneath the dome, there was a large oval ring standing on its end. At well over a span in height and around a pace across at its widest point it was the largest ter'angreal Kathleen had even seen. It seemed to change colour over and over and always showing a new colour, sometime the colours even seemed to mix. Just as Kathleen noticed that it was somehow standing unsupported and wished she could study it up close she heard the Mistress of Novices say, "Attend," and Kathleen noticed the 7 other women all dressed in a different coloured shawl, one for each Ajah, rise and move to form a circle around Pia and Kathleen. As much as Kathleen's thoughts were all over the place she had held her posture and composure since the moment she had risen from the dining hall table. She knew the immense amount of importance there was in the way she carried herself so she tried to stay composed and calm and hold herself as the Aes Sedai she would hopefully soon become. As the Sisters completed the ring around them Pia said began the ceremony as she spoke and Kathleen knew how she was to respond and the dialog rolled off the women's tongues almost without having to think about it. "You come in ignorance, Kathleen Vandiar . How would you depart?" "In knowledge of myself." "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?" "To wear the shawl." As soon as the required words were spoken Kathleen began to undress. Pia continued, "Therefore I will instruct you. You will see this sign upon the ground." She said as she channeled and drew a six pointed star in the air with her finger in front of Kathleen. While Kathleen watched Pia draw the star she felt a Sister behind her embrace Saidar and when Kathleen felt the weave lightly touch the back of her head her heart fluttered in surprise but the girl barley blinked. She hadn't been expecting that, but Kathleen knew that almost all of the process tonight was to see if she could keep her composure when put to the test so even though she wasn't expecting this she knew the Aes Sedai wouldn't hurt her and she didn't let her surprise show. When Pia had finished drawing the star another Sister spoke, "Remember what must be remembered." and Pia continued saying, "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 other Sister spoke again, "Remember what must be remembered." And Pia replied, "When the weave is complete, you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation." The other Sister replied, "Remember what must be remembered." And Pia spoke again,"One hundred times will you weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure." One last time the other Sister spoke, "Remember what must be remembered." When the words were spoken Kathleen could feel the weave the Sister behind her had been channeling settle into her and all the Sisters, save the Mistress of Novices, began to take their places kneeling in a circle around the ter'angreal. When they were all kneeling on the stone floor Kathleen saw them all embrace the Saidar and begin to channel and each made the same complicated weave of all five powers. As they did the colours in the ter'angreal began to shift ever faster until it was flashing like a kaleidoscope. As the others left to begin this formation around the ter'angreal Kathleen continued to remove the last few articles of clothing. She was still uncomfortable disrobing in front of others, but she had done it for her Arches and she would do it for this a million times over. She noticed the Mistress of Novices leering at her and she was embarrassed as the last article of clothing was removed but much to her surprise she managed not to blush or show any sign that this was making her uncomfortable and as she folded her stockings and set them on top of her neatly folded dress she noticed the Great Serpent ring she wore on her finger and she slid it off and placed it on top of her clothes. With all of her worldly belongings out of her contact Kathleen calmly stood to meet the eye of the Mistress of Novices. As she stood the ter'angreal in the center of the room turned a solid white, and the air in the opening of it glowed with all the appearance of true pure light. Then the ring slowly and more curiously, silently, began to revolve on its base. No one spoke and Kathleen knew what must be done, it was time and with out hesitation she slowly began her steady walk toward the revolving ter'angreal, it is really time, she thought as approached it and carefully and confidently stepped through the center of the glowing structure.
  8. It was a sickle moon that hung in the night sky, disappearing on occasion behind the drifting clouds that threatened rain. It was a quiet night, the grounds of the White Tower seemed subdued in comparison to the recent celebration of Bel Tine. Most of the litter from the celebrations had been cleared up and much of the inhabitants of the White Tower were rejuvenating from a week long party of dancing. A patch of blackened grass was the result of a giant bonfire that had blazed, roasting various game that had been the reason for full stomachs. In the Accepted quarters, the buzzing of daily chores was still going on. For there were never true days of rest for the girls who aspired to be Aes Sedai. Dressed in banded white, Accepted imitated the grace of the Aes Sedai to the best of their abilities, maintaining smooth, serene faces as they went about their- "Ouch." ... went about their- "Ouch. Burn you!" ... their activities. "Ray-ray, I hardly touched you!" Regalia sighed and released Saidar. Her face was flushed and her hair was wet from sweatiness. She shut her eyes tightly to stop the dizziness that threatened to make her vomit. It wasn't enough though. She clapped her hands over her eyes and rubbed at her temples wearily. "My head hurts. Sorry Amadine. I've dripped sweat all over your carpet. And I'm too tired to embrace Saidar right now." She sat down suddenly. Her shift was stuck to her back and her legs felt like jelly. All in all, it wasn't a good night. But it was important. The hundred weaves they were practicing were totally useless and seemed much more trouble than they were worth, but failing any of them resulted in failure. Something Regalia would never allow for herself. Her hands trembling slightly, she tried to get up, and promptly fell on her bum. "Ouch." "I think you should rest, Ray-ray." Regalia looked at the only other Accepted in the room. Amadine was a pretty girl who had a smile that could light up a room. But tonight, her face was marked with weariness and her hands trembled slightly from exhaustion. Neither had had much opportunity to join the Bel Tine celebrations, opting instead to hole up in their rooms to focus on the Aes Sedai test. A few of their peers had gone for theirs and it terrified both of them that while two of their friends had passed and gained the shawl, others had disappeared into the night without a trace. Whether it was because they had left the White Tower voluntarily or that their tests had somehow gone wrong, noone knew. But understand the failure in what happened made both Accepted terrified. "Let me go and change out of this shift, then we can chat a little before bed. I think both of us had had enough." Regalia glanced at Amadine's side where a bruise had begun to form from her channeling. It hurt Regalia to do it, but they both needed to pass. And her own body was battered with wounds. They would succeed. Regalia would be Blue. And Amadine herself had chosen the Yellow. There would be no other way about it. Pulling herself up with the aid of the bedstead made Regalia wince in pain. Later there would be Healing of each other. And then it would be over for the night. Regalia stepped out of the room quickly and wiped herself off. She longed to take a quick bath, but it was far too late, and she was far too tired. Changing into a fresh nightdress, she stepped back over to Amadine's room and waited as her friend changed as well. She was just glad to have someone to share everything with.
  9. "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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. “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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