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She knew what the solitude was for – it was a time for contemplation, for meditation upon the oaths and the duty she was about to bear – but Senette spent a good portion of the night in a state of numb shock. After all the years of study and sacrifice, of training and chores and character building and repetitive revision, at last the final goal had arrived. She’d managed in quite good time, from what she could determine, which was a tribute to her hard work and quick mind, as well as her studiousness. All the years had been preparation for this point, and now it was here…. blank. It wasn’t like her to not be mulling over the words of some ancient text, or pondering the properties of a mineral or even mentally dissecting a new botanic specimen. And yet, here she sat upon her narrow cot, staring at the same spot of chipped paint upon the wall, her brain in stunned silence. Really, she should be considering the weight of the oaths that would be written into her marrow in the morning, or coming to terms with the direction her life might now take with the combined freedom and duty that came with being raised to Aes Sedai. But no, she sat, and she stared. She had closed her eyes for a few moments despite knowing she was not supposed to sleep, but the weaves she had learned for the testing were ever burned into her memory and had begun a maddening revision behind her closed lids, now with the addition of the disturbing distractions that had tried to thwart her during the testing, and it had caused her to hastily reopen them. She didn’t think she could bear to see a snake ever again, no matter how interesting the specimen might be. The Tower was still and quiet in the pre-dawn hours, and Senette found a certain serenity in it. Her mind was cast adrift, attaching to nothing in particular, for once still and silent. Mayhap this was the true purpose of the night, to grant a reprieve before the structures of duty took hold, and a blessed respite from the bustle of life as an Accepted of the White Tower. Images of distant family came to mind, momentarily she took mental note to send them word of her achievement before her mind cast off again, flitting over books and sketches and samples, skimming ahead to the unknown future where her imagination conjured amazing discoveries and scholarly revelations. A small smile touched her lips at the picture as it became more focused, turning into one of her favourite daydreams as she rediscovered forgotten mysteries from the Age of Legends to great acclaim. She didn’t really long for recognition, but the notion did warm her in the secretes of her fantasies. To be renown for her work would really be quite lovely, she decided, but only if those discoveries served a greater purpose, she added loyally. She hadn’t always had a direction or purpose for her studies, but she knew she would find it now, with the backing of her chosen Ajah and with the newfound freedoms of the shawl. That was, of course, assuming they accepted her. She gave herself a slight shake, drawing her mind back from its meandering. Dawn was approaching, and with it, her destiny. How very dramatic. She had been moulded and guided for years now, though she’d only truly recognised it after that fateful encounter in the library when the Blue sister had questioned her motives and how she flit so readily between subjects of study. Since then her work had taken on a whole new perspective and a surprising passion – how will what I learn benefit the Tower and the world at large? What good can I do with my research and enquiries? If she was to leave a mark on world, let it be for making a difference. Putting aside her thoughts, Senette rose from where she sat and began preparing for the day, dressing for what would blessedly be the last time in the banded dress of the accepted. Not one for vanity, Senette still thought it would be exceedingly nice to choose her own wardrobe for a change and wear something other than barely relieved white. Her dark hair she carefully twined into two fat braids that she drew over her shoulders. Pondering her reflection in the small oval mirror, she hesitated, hand wavering over the small wooden jewellery box that owned what meagre pieces she possessed. It would be fitting, today, she thought, extracting two small silver bells that were engraved with tiny nightingales and gave of a subtle, harmonious chime when shaken. These she attached to the ends of her braids with small lengths of white ribbon, turning her head to and fro to both admire the look and sound. Resuming her position sitting on the edge of her cot, Senette returned to her daydreaming, eyes vacantly locked onto the same chipped spot of paint, a single taper now burned low in its dish flickering in the corner of her vision. It seemed only moments later that a knock sounded on her door, confident in its rapping. She stood, taking one last glance around the sparse room and schooling her expression into one she hoped displayed appropriate calm before opening the door the Aes Sedai – one from each Ajah – who summoned her. In silence she followed, the anxiety that hadn’t touched her all evening now gnawing on her empty stomach so that she felt slightly ill with nerves for what was to come. Stay calm, perfectly calm, she chided herself, doing her best to maintain a serene façade as her slippers trod quietly against the smooth tiles underfoot, undulating about the halls of the tower. The journey slid past in a blur, so that Senette was almost startled when she found they had arrived and had to force her mind to the task at hand, knees dipping into a habitual curtsey when she found herself in front of so many Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin and Keeper in particular. Should she have not done that? Was that amusement she detected in the eyes of the Amyrlin? She couldn’t tell and a blush pinkened her cheeks though she fought to maintain a smooth face. “Who comes here.” She lifted her chin a fraction, swallowing. “Senette Nadari.” “For what reason do you come?” “To swear the three oaths and thereby claim the shawl of an Aes Sedai.” Was that truly her voice, strong and true? Remarkable. “By what right do you claim this burden?” The Amyrlin continued the ceremony in ringing tones. “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.” Oh, she dared. She knew in theory what would now happen, knew the words by rote. Her eyes were focused forward, taking in the oath rod where it rested reverently upon a velvet pillow. The entire hall was arrayed around the room but she paid them no heed. This was the moment, the pivotal moment where she left off the past and stepped into all the future held in store for her. She exhaled a short breath. This was who she was meant to be, and by the light she would be the best servant of all she could be. The rod was cool in her hand and it sparked a curiosity in the back of her mind which she did her best to quell. Now was hardly the time to indulge her desire to examine closely the artefact, she had oaths to swear. “Under the light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.” Senette’s eyes widened in surprise at the sensation that came over her with the firmly spoken words. She had been told something of what it would be like but it was more uncomfortable than she had reckoned, like her skin was suddenly too tight. “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.” With great difficulty she kept from grimacing, the invisible net pulling closer, squeezing her into a smaller space. “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.” Senette clenched her jaw - tight, so tight! – and her spine was rigid but ahh, she had done it, and she felt her oaths as though they were burned into her very marrow. She was bound, by her word and by her duty to serve, and if she felt she might burst with pride, well it surely wasn’t out of place in this moment, was it? A smile tried to come to life on her lips but she denied it, despite the joy now thrumming through her veins. Aes Sedai. At last the title was hers. “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.” Despite her efforts, a smile flitted across her lips as she looked to the sisters arrayed in a semi-circle, shawls held out for her taking. It was for show, she knew it was part of the ceremony, but it made a pretty picture, like the decision was still not yet certain. Stepping forward, she approached the Blue Sisters, accepting the shawl of her station with gratitude and another betraying smile as the other Aes Sedai melted unnoticed by her from the room. Senette Nadari Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah