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â€œAramina sur Dulciena, you are summoned to be tested for the shawl of an Aes Sedai.â€ The words broke Aramina out of the book she sat studying. She couldnâ€™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? Wasnâ€™t there some sort of notice they gave that you were reaching an end to your life as you knew it? â€œThe Light keep you whole and see you safe.â€ Faerzyne Sedai said, breaking Araminaâ€™s frozen moments. â€œYes, Aes Sedai.â€ She said as she took a deep breath and left the safety of the library table and itâ€™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 didnâ€™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 terâ€™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. â€œAttendâ€ As Faerzye Sedai said the word the Aes Sedai in the room surrounded them. â€œYou come in ignorance, Aramina sur Dulciena, how would you depart?â€ Alive, she thought. â€œIn knowledge of myself.â€ She said calmly. â€œFor what reason have you been summoned here?â€ â€œTo be tried.â€ â€œFor what reason should you be tried?â€ â€œSo that I may learn whether I am worthy.â€ The words were said by rote and the familiarity of that soothed her even further. â€œFor what would you be found worthy?â€ â€œTo wear the shawl.â€ 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 didnâ€™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 youâ€™re doing. Work the weaves and keep moving. Keep your facade and focus. With those words lingering in her mind she stepped into the terâ€™angreal â€¦ 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 â€¦ Into a desert. Heat. She understood heat. She preferred it to the cold actually, but this was insufferable. There was nothing but heat andâ€¦ 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 didnâ€™t understand. FaÃ§ade and focus. Her mantra kept her head up high and her emotions so buried in herself that she didnâ€™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. â€œDonâ€™t leave me Ara!â€ Her steps didnâ€™t falter even if her heart did. She knew that voice. The voice she heard every night in her nightmares. â€œHelp me. I canâ€™t find my way out.â€ Tears filled her eyes, but Aramina blinked them back. FaÃ§ade and focus. â€œAra, please!â€ FaÃ§ade. â€œI need your help.â€ Focus. Take a step. â€œAraâ€¦ Iâ€™ll die here!â€ FaÃ§ade. Step closer. â€œLight forsake you Ara!â€ 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 wasnâ€™t enough and she saw the young woman fall to her knees. â€œAraâ€¦â€ a weak rasp was all that came out. â€œPleaseâ€¦â€ The light was too much and Aramina lurched blindly out of the terâ€™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. â€œIt is done.â€ Faerzyneâ€™s voice and following clap broke through Araminaâ€™s study of the Aes Sedai around her. â€œLet 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.â€ She clapped her hands again before continuing. â€œAramina 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.â€ Done. No, not done. Far from done, but her test for the shawl was complete. Life with all itâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 wasâ€¦ oddly comforting. She hadnâ€™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 Sisterâ€™s led her on for the morningâ€™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. â€œAramina sur Dulcienaâ€ "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 terâ€™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 Aryrlinâ€™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.â€ "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 couldnâ€™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 Araminaâ€™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 didnâ€™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. â€œI would be a Green Sister, if I am permitted.â€ _________________ 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, â€œI would be a Green Sister, if I am permitted.â€ 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 Acceptedâ€™s dress as if it were a silk dress and stepped as gracefully as any royal. I hope she bears disappointment as regally. Siraynâ€™s apartments were well known to most Accepted, they avoided them studiously unless commanded there. Sirayn SÃmeone-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 Generalâ€™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 Dumaiâ€™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 â€¦ 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 nightâ€™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 morningâ€™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 â€¦ an impartial judge, even handed and fair to all, despite her misgivings â€¦ 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 Generalâ€™s office. Ice grey eyes tracked each woman for an instantâ€™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 Ajahâ€™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 â€¦ 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 Ajahâ€™s testing had passed into legend by now. Severe herself, her timeless features set into icy composure, she acknowledged the newest Aes Sedaiâ€™s words with the merest inclination of her head. The dice had already been thrown. It remained to see who would win this gamble. â€œMany have spoken the same words before you â€¦ Aramina Sedai.â€ Scrupulously she granted the other woman her new title, nobody would fault her on her manners, but the grey eyes remained measuring. â€œWhy should we welcome you in where so many others have aspired? Do you bring any skills or qualities which might benefit the Battle Ajah?â€ _________________ Sirayn SÃmeone-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. â€œMany have spoken the same words before you â€¦ Aramina Sedai.â€ The title out of her mouth seemed as a joke beneath those eyes that hunted for weakness and failure. â€œWhy should we welcome you in where so many others have aspired? Do you bring any skills or qualities which might benefit the Battle Ajah?â€ 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, â€œMany have spoken the same words before you â€¦ 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?â€ 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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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 Towerâ€™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 â€¦ 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. â€œI do declare, Aramina Sedai, if I needed somebody to give grave offence you would be the first person under consideration.â€ 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 â€¦ dared â€¦ 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. â€œOne 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 â€¦ every woman in this Ajah could destroy you in ways you donâ€™t even know exist â€¦ and they have proven themselves a thousand times over.â€ 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. â€œYou have spoken passably well,â€ all business now Sirayn moved into her ceremonious speech, if with a twist of sharpness on the words, â€œyet 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.â€ 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. â€œYou are not worthy. I will not accept you into the Battle Ajah.â€