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  1. 8th of Aien, 998 - Winternight **************************** The waves of the Errinin splashed gentled through Tar Valon's southern harbor as the noon day sun ceased its ascent to the mark the days apex. The sun burned brilliantly its rays chasing away the last vestiges of winter and illuminating the shining white spire of the Tower at the city's heart. At this time, on this day as it did only one other time each year the sun seemed to float perfectly overhead and for a moment the shadow of the Tower disappeared. And yet back at the southern harbor a man walked in the Tower's Shadow. Though the sun cast its raidance across his path, he did not walk in the Light. It was early. As Devin cast his gaze across the harbor, searching for a ship that was the one thought on his mind, it was too early. Squinting against the sun's glare on the water he finally gave up on finding his target, all the boats looked the same to him no matter how many times he'd made this kind of trip. Wandering over to the harbor master's stall he called out to the official in charge of tracking the moorings, "Where would I find the Redfish?" The clerk quickly checked a sheet and replied back, "Third dock from the end, first berth." He gave Devin a second look, likely marking his face in anticipation of his return. Devin had the appearance of a merchant and that meant he'd be back soon to pay the tax on whatever goods the ship was set to receive from the boat in question. Devin nodded, adjusted his coat and started walking through the crisp afternoon air towards the dock. In any other city he'd have flipped the man a coin in thanks and to grease the wheels on his return, but not in Tar Valon. Here that smacked too close to bribery and while the Aes Sedai weren't so harsh either man would face criminal charges for such a meager act, the clerk wouldn't hold his position for long. Devin of course, didn't need any extra scrutiny on his trip to the harbor. The redfish had a shipment of Tea for Devin's shop and that shipment had a set of correspondence secured inside it. News from his fellow Friends, news for for mistresses. Such things were well hidden, placed between the the double walls of the tin crates the tea traveled in, but scrutiny led only to bad outcomes. Careful of the wet stones of the wharf, Devin walked to the Redfish and hailed a sailor working on deck to come aboard. From there the process went quickly and efficiently as it always did. Devin met the captain in his quarters, papers were checked, coin was exchanged, and one of the carts that hung around the docks was hailed. After that a quick stop back with clerk saw a near repeat of the performance. Papers were checked, coin was exchanged, and the cart proceeded through the streets to Devin's shop. The tea was unloaded in the alley by the back door, the last bit of coin needed for the day's errand was shared, and then Devin carried the crates one at a time into the shop. He took them through the back room and down into the cellar. There he kept a room to store and process his wares. Dark and dry the tea would last months here even without the added measure of the sealed tins. Safe from prying eyes, he hung his coat on a hook, washed the gentle smile from his face, and removed the metaphorical mask of Devin Malasan, tea shop owner. Beneath that mask was another simple seeming man, though his eyes lost there friendly warmth in the dim light of the basement, hardening like water freezing into ice. This man was Kalen and he too had work to do this day. Sitting at a workbench Kalen lit a flame and set a blade upon it, letting it slowly heat. Once the blade began to glow he took it and slowly dragged it across the flux sealing the tea crates inner lining and outer form. Separating the two a cache of documents sat waiting for his consumption. They were written in code of course, but it was code he'd long ago memorized and he read them quickly. Finishing the last he grimaced, the letters contained little of value. He'd need to make a report but those he served would not be pleased by the lack of progress. There was little he could do in this case, he was just the messenger, but those he served wouldn't care. Amongst the Friends of the Dark failure always had consequences and those that deserved the blame were too far away to face those consequences. Too far away at least for today, Kalen felt soon he'd be traveling south again to relay his own message. He finished by burning the missives and reassembling the tea crates. Finally, he donned his coat and his countenance once more. Blowing out the candle Devin left the basement. He'd completed his shipment and it was about time to open his shop. Humming to himself the tea shop owner began the day, while beneath the surface the Dark Friend quietly brooded.
  2. It was done. Viviane sat kneeling on the ground before the small table in her room, a single candle glowing before her. Shadows danced along the wall as the flame flickered too and fro. There was no detectable breeze, but there must be some unseen draft with the candle's behavior. Everything was silent in the hallways of the Accepted’s Quarters; most of those girls would have found sleep for the night. Not Viviane. She was contemplating her future… And how tired she would inevitably feel come the morning. Not that Aes Sedai let fatigue touch them, oh no. At the very least, Viviane sat alone with a full stomach. The kitchens certainly had outdone themselves on that meal. Smoked salmon on a bed of buttered greens. Warm honey oat bread and clear bone broth. Candied bacon and roasted potatoes. Custard filled tarts and several types of sugared berries. Wine that had not been watered. Tremalking black tea. Viviane’s mouth began to water at the thought. She pushed it out of her mind as quickly as she could. There would be time to eat whatever she liked once she had gained the shawl. It was a great injustice that one was not administered the Oaths as soon as they passed the test, but the White Tower was nothing if not traditional. There was nothing for it but to focus on the flame that danced before her. Viviane did not really want to contemplate her testing. It had all come flooding back to her as soon as she had stepped out of the Ter’angreal. Light, would she have to face such trials if she lived to see the Last Battle? She would be prepared if such was the case. At least she would never have to deal with any of the horrible situations involving her family… Hopefully. Her mother still lived. Best to put that out of her mind. The Tower was her home and the Sisters were her family now. She would be bound to them for eternity once she took the Oaths. Oh, she would certainly remain in contact with Mother, but it might be best if she never went to Camelyn to call on her. Mother could come here to visit. There would be less risk of anyone noting that the two were related, and then no one could use Mother against her… If it ever came to that- the Light forbid. One had to consider the possibilities when one had decided upon the Red Ajah. So strange. Years and years ago, Viviane had decided upon the Blue. It wasn’t until a certain Red sister took a liking to Viviane that she had started to doubt her convictions of Ajah choice. Viviane had grown up on the rougher side of Camelyn. She had seen what it was like for the poor and the destitute. Upon entering her name in the Novice Book, Viviane had vowed to herself that she would become Aes Sedai if only to help ensure that the people of the land were taken care of. Blues were obsessed with their causes and they held more than a little sway with many nations. It seemed so simple at the time. The Reds, however, were literally the sworn protectors of the world. They were the force that stood between humanity and the Shadow. They protected everyone that walked under the Light. Yes, they hunted and gentled men that could Channel, but that was only a small fraction of what it meant to be a Red Sister. People only focused on that mission because those same men were the biggest threat to the world. There hadn’t been many wars between the nations in recent memory. Light, even the Battle of the Shining Walls could be chalked up to the vanity of a single ruler. To be Red was to be flexible. To be Red was to be a guardian. To be Red was to be selfless. To be Red was to hold as much love in your heart as possible! If that were not true, why would so many women take up that shawl and vow to themselves to protect humanity from the horrors of the world… And even to protect humanity from itself. Viviane’s mission had never changed. It was only her view on the world that had changed, and thus her plans to achieve her mission. She would strike out and go to- A knock sounded at the door. It was time. Viviane had no need to school her face, she had already felt like serenity incarnate. So lost she had been in her own thoughts, she did not notice that the candle was almost burnt out. The sky was turning from black to a deep shade of violet outside of her window. Dawn was approaching. She rose from her spot on the floor with ease and went to the door, not hesitating to open it. She knew who lay on the other side. Seven sisters watched her as the door slowly swung back. Viviane was not surprised to find her favorite Red, Jagen Sedai, amongst them. Not a word was spoken by anyone. Viviane stepped out into the hallway and the seven women surrounded her, forming a sort of mock-honor guard, and they walked off into the dark hallways of the Tower.
  3. Ooc ok let's get some partying on, been way too long since last. Liitha shook the dust of her cape, she looked forward to being inside, she hoped the wind of the mountain would soon turn and take the smell away. She had spent the afternoon helping out patrolling, and by now normally would be heading back to the Brown quarters, but not tonight, Cara was busy with her books. Liitha wasn't sure what it was she was investigating and with the mood she was in she was not about to ask. She knew to stay away when she was in this mood, so she was heading for the nearest inn to get an ale, and see if there was some better company to find. She folded the cape up over her arm as she headed in to one with jolly music going on, seemed just what she was in the mood for tonight. After getting an ale and ordering some stew she headed over to a table in the middle to sit down and wait to see who else would be wandering in after a tiresome shift.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Following this: **** Aiden had gone to the Master at Arms following the ironic situation of the fight with Giles. He was an idiot. He had no proof. And his mother was a well known Warder, his father too. Bloody people think he could be a darkfriend? It didn't matter that it was true, but not in anything other than word of mouth. The Dark Lord hadn't called him specifically to do anything yet. Though there was always that possibility. But he was a nothing, son of a darkfriend. No one even knew his mother was bad. Very few had found out who she was when she was here last. That was so long ago. She'd been dead most of his life now. And it was sad. He and the Master at Arms went to Mistress Loari in the forge and the daggers were presented. She had looked at them fondly saying I remember them. She looked at me and laughed. His belongings were given back to him pending a formal investigation, but so far his words spoke the truth. Aiden didn't know what would happen next but it didn't matter. It was back to business as usual until then. Aiden was sure people had heard all about it by now, and he wasn't looking forward to explaining himself over and over again. It sucked Tayln had gotten caught, he'd never really met Taylor's brother, but the idiot had gotten caught. So stupid!
  7. There was not a single black thread in all of Tar Valon. It would not be found on a seamstress' thread rack in a housewife's basket. Aes Sedai did not wear black at all, and that tradition carried into the grand city itself. No one wore a lick of the color, not in lace nor cord nor thread. Yet, Tar Valon had men dressed in black coats not only in the city itself, but the White Tower. Well, their uniform was black, but they certainly weren't wearing it now. But it didn't change the fact that it was their uniform, marking them. Oh, they had not walked through the city, no, but remembering it made her head ache. Jagen wanted to rub it away, but she stayed her hand. She could feel Aslan there. A man, bonded to her. A man who had bonded her. A man, using saidin, had… Jagen looked up at the sky. It was overcast, and for this she was grateful. It matched her soured mood. She had been trying to calm herself since that… incident. She had had one other meeting with that man, one that was shorter than me expected, perhaps. But today, that had to change. If she was to be bonded to him, whether she liked it or not, she had to get to know him. It had taken her a week to finally decide to have a second meeting. She did not wear her shawl today which, though she had been Aes Sedai for a long time, was unusual for the woman when she met with visitors or guests who were not of Tar Valon. She smoothed her dress, one of maroon and cream brocaded clinging silk, walking down a main corridor in the Tower. She had sent a message through a White Tower servant to Aslan, to have him meet her at the Tower's main grand entrance. The Taraboner—in her people's style of dress, with her hair in dozens of braids and a veil over the lower half of her face—inclined her head towards an old couple, perhaps petitioners who were seeking Healing or some other matter. Well, in truth, Jagen was older than them, but she was always grateful not to look the part. She passed through the main hall and made her way to the Red Quarters. From here she chose a sitting room available to the sisters who did not want to meet in their rooms. The room held a dozen comfortable chairs and had two marble fireplaces. A servant was tending a single, lit fire when she entered. Jagen dismissed her with a short word. Now she would wait. The Sitter pursed her lips, her jaw tight; it was not the waiting she minded, but the thought of being in a room with a man who could channel. Oh, she could, if she really wanted to, sever him on her own. But such a thing was against Tower law, and she'd be severely punished. Perhaps even stilled herself, and sent to a farm for the rest of her life. It was not worth it. Not unless she deemed him dangerous. At least here, where novices, Accepted, servants and visitors went about their daily tasks, she would not be alone in meeting him again. In public she felt more at ease and more in control. Soon enough, the Asha'man entered. Jagen turned to face him, standing regally. Jagen needed to appear strong; she was strong, she reminded herself. "Enjoying the city, Aslan?" She asked in a way of greeting. It wasn't a friendly tone, but neutral as she could make it.
  8. OOC: This is a WT approved Retro-RP taking place after Kathleen Sedai takes over Elessar Gaidin’s Bond from Carys Sedai IC but before they head out on their Borderland-journey in the previously posted RP “A Bond of Emerald Grace”, and much before Elessar’s later adventures. The Prologue below (which consists of several re-posted former IC-posts) sets the stage for this new Retro-RP. PROLOGUE To Pass A Bond: Part 1 ►▼◄ Elessar’s life was filled with dreams. Or so it felt. Much more so than normal. And he wondered why. Perhaps it was all a result of his constant restlessness these days. His feeling of stagnation as a Warder in the White Tower. His need for some action.. to do something. Anything. His worry about Carys. Thinking about her, made him aware of the emotion that was her at the back of his head, and as so often these days she felt weary to him. He shook his head in concern and placed his sword, which he had been sharpening, beside him on the bench there at the outskirts of the Warder’s Yard. Clouds were spreading across the sky above Tar Valon that early afternoon, mirroring his troubling thoughts. A soft wind was rising from the south, making the banners atop the Tower walls slowly ripple, and it seemed that a storm was coming. Looking up at the grey sky, the Gaidin waited. ● He was a man six foot three tall with a fairly dark complexion, short dark hair and hard dark eyes. He had a strong build (a result of hard physical training over many years) and also some battle-scars, most prominent was one across his abdomen. In fury over the death of his mother and his inability to prevent it, he had shaved off his forked beard (so common in Kandori men) long ago and had never re-grown it. Touching his bare chin, as his eyes roamed the heavens for a long time looking for the bird of prey he seeked, he wondered if he ever would re-grow his Kandori forked beard. He did not think he would. He had made his choice and he would abide by it. There! High above, coming in from the east, he saw the bird float on the currents high above the Aes Sedai city, as he had seen it on several occasions in the past three days. He followed it with his eyes as it flew off into the west. A bird of prey. A free soul. A small smile touched his lips and he reached for his blade. To be out in the world again. Doing his Warder duty. Carrying out his sworn service. Outside. Where he could contribute. That was his inner wish. To feel needed. ● Carys. His thoughts often stayed on her. And on them. On their Bond. On his worries. On his frustration that there seemed nothing he could do to change things. He was dutibound to serve Carys in whatever capacity. Part of him felt it was wrong to even question this. Wrong to complain. Do your duty and stop whining! that little voice in the back of his mind said. He listened only partially to the voice. This was complicated. As things often were in life. It had been days since he’d last seen Carys - a quick hello as she was instructing an Accepted on how to set a broken bone - but it felt like months in truth. If he were honest with himself, the closeness that they’d acquired on their travels had now melted into an awkward acquaintance type feeling. The distance between them was palpable and he didn’t know how to fix it. So, in a way, it seemed to him that they avoided each other. She stayed busy in the Infimary - and he spent his time…anywhere else. It was, Elessar thought, almost as if the memories of their time together - their travels and adventures in Cairhien, Ebou Dar, and with the Sea Folk - had happened in another life. And, he supposed, perhaps it had. It was different then, he thought, as he stared silently out at the ever darkening sky from the window in his Tower room. Out on the road, I was needed. I could carry out my duty and service - and I did not feel restrained. She needed me back then. He truly missed those days. With Carys at his side, as it had been with Leandreen many years before, he had felt as if he could make a true difference in the world. That he could excel as a Warder. Now, trapped in the Tower, he felt almost useless. That was, perhaps, an unfair notion and he would never say anything like that to Carys, of course, but recently he had struggled to suppress the feeling. ● Shifting his gaze to a pair of young Warder-trainees going through the forms some way off to his left, his mind returned to the present. To his concerns. To his tension. To his growing unease. His mind was occupied with heavy thoughts that burdened him and so he turned away from the trainees, taking with him the blade he had trained with that afternoon, and headed resolutely for his room. It is going to be awkward. The thought bustled in his mind as he walked. For both of us. He and Carys were going to dine together this evening. She had invited him. And he had known straight away that this was going to be more than a mere meal shared together. They had avoided each other for too long and it was time to speak out. She had not said as much, of course, but he felt sure this was the case. They had, after all, not spoken for what seemed ages. How did we drift so far apart? he wondered for the hundreth time. When did we stop confiding in each other? Inside he knew the truth. He had admitted it to himself a few times, but still part of him denied it. Her work in the Tower takes all her time now. And I cannot function well locked up. I need to be outside. In the open. Only there can I do my duty: to protect and serve. That is my life. Even so, he was bound to Carys and his duty lay with her. I swore on my life. I will not break my oath. It seemed hard, very hard indeed, but there was nothing to do but grit his teeth and steel his heart and serve as he was honour-bound to do. ▀▄
  9. For PART 1 of this RP-thread see ->> ----------- PART 2 .. Revisited by Memories and Wounds that never Heal .. ►▼◄ Elessar was lost in Dreams and Memories.. ● The days had passed by, one day flowing seamlessly into the next, as they had waited at the ‘Ocean Mistress’ inn, in the city and Capital of Tanchico by the Aryth Ocean, for new orders from the White Tower. They had certainly needed the rest after their months of travel and hardship, facing Darkfriends and Whitecloaks alike, their persistent efforts leading to the successful freeing of the imprisoned Green Sister from the Whitecloak stronghold not long ago. By now, however, both Elessar and Myrrhi, his Bonded young Aes Sedai, were becoming restless and ready to get on with their next mission for the White Tower. Since they had been ordered to wait until further notice, it was apparent that they were not returning straight away to Tar Valon. The Warder had ambivalent feelings in that regard; part of him had looked forward to getting back to the White Tower after their many months of strenuous travel and adventures, but another part knew very well that he had always been happiest as a Gaidin on the road, away from the restricting Tower and Warder grounds, on missons and adventures with his Aes Sedai(s). It was difficult to know how Myrrhi felt, she did not speak about it during their talks and he did not press her, but as the days passed Elessar found he looked more and more forward to receiving word of their next mission and waited with anticipation for the Tower messenger to arrive with instructions. ● A strong southern ocean wind beat insistently against the windows of his room at the inn one late evening, a forerunner of a coming storm, darkness enveloping the skies in all directions as night embraced the region, but the Bonded Warder heard or sensed nothing of this as his mind was back in the Borderlands, deep in memories of the past, re-living a visit made years before.. ● .. A strong morning breeze makes the colourful red-on-white background, star-illustrated Telcontar Banner beside the Estate Main Gate ripple with abundant life - as Elessar Gaidin and Kathleen Aes Sedai of the White Tower ride through the imposing gate and onto the front grounds - almost as if welcoming a lost son home... Memories.. ..Elessar, in his distinct Warder colour-shifting cloak, and Kathleen Aes Sedai, his Bondholder, in her green formal riding dress with a green fringed shawl around her shoulders depicting her Ajah, entered the manor house together and received respectful bows from the members of the Telcontar family. “Welcome to our house, Aes Sedai - we are honoured”, said a tall broad-shouldered man in a friendly and respectful voice, beckoning them inside. Valdherien Telcontar, lord of this manor, was a hospitable man. He wore silver chains over a formal dark-blue coat cut in the Kandori fashion, muted silk trousers and Borderlander footwear. His beard was in the distinctive forked style of his countrymen, he had two jewelled earrings in each ear, there were some gray patches in his dark hair, and his jaw protruded a little more from his tanned face than was the case with Elessar, but even so it was not difficult to see that the two were brothers. They clasped shoulders in heartfelt welcome, though Valdherien’s eyes were slightly hesitant, a look which the Warder returned. The moment passed and they joined the others - Valdherien’s wife Leonorah, a tall beautiful Borderlander woman who wore a stylish Kandori dress with a necklace made in an intricate pattern known as the ‘Kandori snowflake pattern’, and their two daughters, leading the way - as they headed down a hallway and into the main lounge. “Father?” Elessar asked his brother, in an uneasy voice, as they rounded a corner, and Valdherien, with a sigh he was unable to repress, replied that their father was out in the gardens. Elessar nodded and said no more, but inside he was debating with himself whether it would be wise to postpone the confrontation with his father, or simply get it over with. He had not decided by the time they reached the main lounge and his older brother bade them seat themselves in the ancient-looking chairs in the room and have a drink. On the walls were old paintings depicting Borderland history - scenery, towns, Borderlander warriors and battles -, paintings that Elessar knew from old had been passed down through several Telcontar generations. His age-long interest in history and battles had been born in part due to these old paintings and the small but distinct library of history and story-books that resided in a different part of the manor. ● After drink and some polite conversation Elessar excused himself, with a quick nod at his Aes Sedai which was returned, and headed out into the gardens. His unease increased as he walked toward a lonely figure standing some way off, tension he was sure Kathleen would feel through the Bond, but he had to get this over with. He had been in doubt whether to wait or - possibly - avoid the confrontation, but in the end had decided that this was the only way. He had to deal with his father at some point and he was tired of this chasm of anger and distrust which had developed between them. As he neared the lone figure, standing by an apple tree, he recognized his father’s features and posture. The old man turned around and faced his son in silence. He looked just as Elessar remembered him from his last visit several years before, though perhaps a touch frailer. Saamlin Telcontar, a proud man of dark skin with angry dark eyes and a hard face, stared angrily at Elessar but said nothing. Of all the brothers Elessar had always resembled his father the most, also becoming the martial son his father had always wanted - and nurtured. Elessar, however, thought it might be this very sameness - almost like a mirror image - that had driven his father from great pride in his son, as he had travelled to Tar Valon to become a Warder of the White Tower, to great, unyielding anger at him - and perhaps himself - for Elessar being unable to save the youngest son Vehran from drowning. It had happened on his first visit home a few years after finishing Warder training, during a forest trek in one of Kandor’s several valleys. Vehran and he had gone swimming in a Borderland river there, the currents had been strong - stronger than they had anticipated - and Vehran had accidentally slipped and knocked his head on a rock, disappearing flailing into the rushing water. Elessar had heard his brother’s scream but had been too far away to do anything, and by the time he reached his brother’s body, carried by the frantic stream further downriver, and got it out of the water, it was too late. His father had never forgiven him for not saving Vehran’s life. “You were the older brother, it was your responsibility to take care of him, Elessar! How could you not see the danger!? How were you, a trained Warder, unable to save him!? It is on your head. You are no longer a son of mine!” The harsh, bitter words rang in Elessar’s head still, even after so many years. And perhaps his father was right. He blamed himself for his younger brother’s death, even if perhaps unfairly, another sin weighing down on his soul.. ● Elessar tossed and turned in bed from the painful memory. He was swiftly drawn back to that time at the Telcontar Estate, back to the painful confrontation with his father.. ..The Warder turned away from his father’s accusing stare. He stared silently into the orchard of apple trees, flowerbeds and grassy grounds that enveloped the estate. Compared to other Kandori estates, of greater noble families, this was a fairly modest sized estate. Even so, it would have been considered a fair sized estate in some smaller countries and to a young Elessar it had, at the time, seemed the world. It was the world to me, he thought. For a while. In his mind’s eye, memories flowing, he was back in these gardens on a beautiful spring afternoon, the sun shining from a cloudless sky, a young Borderlander boy running freely around in play, face full of boyish glee, his two brothers at his heels - one older, one younger, but all three in many ways the same - none of them with any cares in the world.. ..Screams of delight and childish banter between brothers reaching out from the past, echoing in Elessar’s head.. ..”Wait for me, Elessar!” screams Vehran as he tries to catch up with his two elder brothers. “Faster, Vehran!” shouts Elessar as he tries to get to the Tree before a panting Valdherien. “Elessar, I will beat you..!” shouts Valdherien as he runs shoulder to shoulder with him. “Never!” screams the ever competitive Elessar back, as he storms ahead for the narrow win. Soon all three brothers lay laughing, gasping for air in the grass before the Climbing Tree .. ● Fond memories.. the Calm before the Storm.. Without turning, his eyes fixed on the Climbing Tree of his childhood some way off, Elessar said in a clear, strong voice. “Father, I am sorry.. but we must end this!”. His voice cut through the wall of silence between them. “This anger, this hatred.. will not bring Vehran back.” Vehran, I am sorry, he thought. My brother, forgive me. “Blame me all you wish.. I blame myself also, though I did what I could.. but please, let us end this strife. It’s been too long. It is destroying our family!” It is destroying you, he added in his mind. He clenched his fists and calmed his thoughts, trying to find the Flame and the Void. It was a struggle due to his inner distress. His father remained silent and Elessar could feel his eyes boring into his back. Seconds stretched into what seemed forever, the Warder waiting for the outburst that would surely come, but there was only silence. Just as Elessar was certain his father would not respond, the prolonged silence was broken by a malevolent curse. His father spat another curse and leaving obscenities in his wake he stomped off toward the manor without looking back. Elessar sighed, shaking his head sadly, and turned in time to see the figure of his angry father in the distance, closing in on the manor buildings. I tried. He thought in abject misery. Blast! But I tried! He had known that his attempt at reconciliation might not succeed, that this ..chasm.. between them was perhaps yet too deep, but he had hoped.. Perhaps his father simply needed more time. Perhaps.. ● When he returned a little later to the manor’s main lounge and exchanged a quick glance with his brother, the other man shook his head slightly, in that way letting Elessar know that their father was not there but gone for the time being. The Warder nodded resignedly, releasing some tension, putting the matter aside for now, then turned to his Bondholder. Meeting her eyes, his mood lightened. “Will you join me, Kathleen Aes Sedai”, he asked, using her formal title to give her added recognition and respect, “in the gardens. I will show you the Telcontar family estate.” There was pride in his voice and in his step - pride in his family and in her - , the pain of the confrontation and the loss temporarily put aside, as he led his Bondholder out onto the grounds.. ● When he woke early the next morning, with soft light from rising sunlight barely escaping the very dark clouds in the horizon and rain, pushed by heavy storm winds, hitting the window of his room hard, Elessar was in a daze, his head heavy, echoes of his aching, ever difficult dream-memories swirling in his fogged mind. The pain of the past at the Telcontar Estate up in his native Borderlands was a lingering memory, a painful moment - and part - of his life, one that had intermittently revisited him over the years, and he wondered not for the first time if that emotional wound would ever heal. ▀▄
  10. Tar Valon. Merdyn could hardly believe that he was finally here. The sacred city nestled on the banks of the River Erinin, Dragonmount looming dangerously on the horizon. The second largest city in the Westlands; the seat of Aes Sedai power. Men and women came to this Ogier-designed city for petitions, healings, and guidance. As an Asha’man, Merydn felt a tinge of guilt over his awe at the sight of the brilliant white buildings. Being the son of one of the High Seats of Andor, Merdyn should have visited this place long ago; but life had never steered him in this direction. Merdyn Gilyard was a man that had a Talent for Traveling; boring a hole into the Pattern, he had found himself stepping out just a few yards from the Shining Walls that enclosed the city. The walls in question were said to be impregnable; oh, they looked like Cuendillar, but Merdyn knew better… Although one never did know what the future held. Perhaps a Sister here wound find themselves with the Talent to create such a thing and then, perhaps, the city of Tar Valon would be truly protected from any outside forces. Merdyn pocketed the thought for later, it would be a handy suggestion to offer up to the Red Sister he was slated to meet with today. He had all sorts of those ideas stowed away. Asha’men were ‘new’ to the world, true, but youth often sprung innovation. Merdyn had vowed to himself to prove to the Sisters just how useful the Black Tower could be, if only in their ideas for the future. It had taken the better part of an hour or two, but before long, he was stepping into the White Tower itself. The city that surrounded the Aes Sedai stronghold had reminded him of Camelyn. It made him homesick. One of the other brothers back at the Black Tower had estimated that Tar Valon had housed over 500,000 citizens, not including the Sisters; a number that put the population of the Farm to shame. Oh, the Black Tower was thriving, and more came seeking refuge every day. It would take another generation or two, probably several or more, before their numbers reached even half of that, but still, it was something to think on. Nox had not come with Merdyn; his heart ached at being separated from his true love, but as an Asha’man, there would be times where duty would separate them. It was moments like these that Merdyn had wished Nox would consent to the Warder Bond… At least then Merdyn would always know that Nox was safe, alive, and where he may be; they would never truly be separated again. Now was not the time for emotions. Now was the time to act the professional gentleman, putting his best foot forward to represent the Black Tower. With a stiff upper lip, Merdyn entered the Tower and was lead off by a young Accepted wearing the typical stark white dress banded in the colors of the seven Ajahs. The M’Hael had named Merdyn the official liaison between the Black Tower and the Red Ajah. The thought scared Merdyn slightly; the two groups had enjoyed tense relations at best. The Reds were known for Gentling men such as Merdyn, it had been a shock for everyone when the Ajah had bowed to their ideals and started Bonding men of the Black Tower. It was something that spoke of the Ajah’s commitment to the Final Battle. If they were to overcome any of this, they would have to work together. There had been a time that Merdyn would have willingly been Bonded to a Sister, even a Red, but that time had long since passed. He had Nox now, and although it would’ve done wonders for relations between the Towers, Merdyn would no longer allow such a Bonding to happen. Nox held claim over his heart and soul, if there were one person in the Pattern that held the right to Bond Merdyn, it was Nox. Today, Merdyn was to meet with a Jagen Sedai. She was a high ranking member of the Red Ajah. The plan was to enter into talks concerning both group’s mutual interests and how they may come together to work better as partners on this hellish road to Tarmon Gai’don. Merdyn was the face of the Black Tower so far as the Reds were concerned, and he relished in the opportunity. He was a tad nervous, but life as a noble and being groomed to become the next head of the Great House of Gilyard… Well, Merdyn was more than equipped to deal with these talks. The M’Hael had made the right decision in naming Merdyn liaison with the Reds. There was no doubt in his mind that the talks would go well. With any luck, they would wrap this all up over tea and he would be back home in the arms of Nox before nightfall. Merdyn was genuinely good-natured, there was nothing to hide here, and he honestly hoped for the prosperity between the two Towers; surely this Jagen would see all of that. And if all else failed, Merdyn had brought seven fat chests of gold with him, to honor each Ajah.
  11. Heart racing, Edana rolled out of the way of the blade falling towards her head. She lifted her sword defensively to block the kill-shot to her skull, the hard stone floor bruising her knees as she scrambled for enough room to find her feet again. Something caught on her foot, and she tugged on it to pull it free, only to feel it tightly wrapped in whatever had caught it. She growled in frustration, unable to look away to see the cause as her attacker, a tall, dark haired swordsman with no small amount of skill, started swinging at her, again. She parried them all away, by the end, swatting at the sword to unbalance it as fatigued pulled at her arms. He hacked down on her, heavy blows that bore her to the ground as exhaustion took over her limbs and she dropped to the floor under them. She panted from exertion, sweat beading her brow, and a scream of frustration and pain filling her lungs as the blade came down one last time, pain exploding in her head. Wish a gasp, Edana jerked herself awake, her fingers touching the pain in her forehead as she opened her eyes to take it in the room around her. It was her room in the barracks, a spartan space with very little furniture. She'd cracked her head on one of the four pieces she owned, a small set of drawers that stood next to her bed that contained her maintenance kits for her weapons and a few odds and ends she'd picked up over the last few years here in the Yard. She cursed, realizing she'd fallen off the bed, the blanket she'd been sleeping under wrapped around her foot, trapping it. She eased it off her foot and rolled to sit on her backside, her knees bent and her forearms braced upon them. The moon glittered off of a blade laying on a table on the other side of the room and she grimaced, looking away quickly. It was a heron-marked sword. The smooth double edged blade was heavier than she liked her blades and the hilt was a hand and a half for a normal sized man. It wasn't balanced or fitted for a woman. It wasn't made for her. She'd taken it from a dead man three months ago. The nightmares had haunted her ever since. The Captain hadn't believed her capable of defeating a Blade Master and he'd questioned her and checked her story with Kynwric multiple times before giving up and accepting that she'd done what he'd considered impossible. She'd killed a Blade Master. She'd gotten lucky is more like it. She'd never admit it to the Captain, but she felt like a fraud every time she held that sword. As if he knew it, the Captain required her to add it to her nightly kit while she was on duty. He said it gave hope to the others, that if Edana could manage it, anyone on that wall could do it, too. She had worn it every time she'd left this room ever since, mostly to rub salt in his wounds about it. He didn't have to know she felt like a fraud. It was bad enough she was living with it. She rubbed her eyes and looked out the window at the pitch black sky and sighed. There was no way she was getting back to sleep, now, and only one way to make sure she was exhausted enough to catch a nap before her shift on the wall came due. She rose and dressed quietly, taking time to wrap her legs to keep the pants from flapping on top of her boots and her forearms to keep her shirt from tearing under her vambraces. She laced her armor steadily, finally lifting the dreaded sword from the table and sliding it home into the sheath at her hip before walking out of her room, out of the barracks, and out into the yard to find a pell demanding death. The pells were far enough away from the sleeping quarters that she wouldn't wake anyone and maybe, just maybe, she could convince herself that she was good enough to have earned the sword she was using to destroy the thing. She stood in the moonlight, closing her eyes and feeling the air move around her. She pictured a stream, smoothly bending and moving along its banks and moved through sword forms without touching the pell in front of her. She made the movements more of a meditation, a function of breathing more than fighting. She searched for peace among the comfort of the shifts in muscle and weight and, when she found none, she stepped forward and brutalized the pell, instead. She heard movement behind her, but didn't stop until she was sure the movement was drawing closer. She turned, sword slashing in a flat arch from her hip to ward off whomever was wandering the Yard at this unfathomable hour. She pulled the shot short as Kynwric stopped just out of her reach. She straightened a bit awkwardly and slid the sword home again, swiping her hands at her face which bore the tell-tale tracks of tears she hadn't realized she was shedding. "Master Kynwric, to what do I owe the pleasure? Don't you have a wife to keep warm on a night like this?" ~Edana
  12. The night had been long, or it had felt like it. But it had also given Corin a great deal of time to think and make some decisions. A few of which he did not like the answers even though he knew there was little in the way of options open to him. Some he was not sure he ever would accept again; no matter how much faith she had in him. He still did not understand or comprehend how a person could control another’s dream or what this dream world that Lavinya had spoken of was. But he did know the fear that was on her face and in her voice. A very real and petrifying fear that had gripped her like he had never seen before. How he was suppose to fight and protect her against something he couldn’t understand or even touch was a puzzle he would need a lot of time to work on. It had taken a goodly portion of his mind all night and his only solution to date was what he had laid out around him. The small court yard in the rear of the Inn to which they were staying in was not the Tower training grounds and had little in the way of offering beyond that of a small patch of green in which Corin presently sat. He had left as soon as Lavinya had awoken and seemed comfortable enough with the light to let him go. He had made one stop in his room to collect a few items and one where the Red Guard was camped to collect a few others. That had made for an interesting conversation with the captain, but in the end the man had relented with his request. All that thinking and morning bustle had born the fruit of his present placement in the yard and the array of deaths edges that fanned out from a point centered directly opposite him. At the moment they served no purpose, not until his new unaware student arrived. While he waited Corin sought peaceful contemplation in the one place he found beneficial for such a quest. Sitting cross-legged on the grass and enveloped in the separation of the void, Corin took the time to go deep into the void as he had when he was learning from one of its masters. When it came to need for fighting and the Great Game, one only need immerse themselves shallowly in the void: enough to separate from the distractions of the body and mind to accomplish the required task. But the master of the void who had taught Corin had also introduced him to deeper levels. Places where contemplation became easy and the connection with the world around began to blend into one entity. He never reached the same depth as the master that taught him, but he had spent far less time in its study and embrace. This deep level of separation he had not visited in a long time, allowing the chaos of life to interfere with his daily journeys; journeys that would now require a great deal of clarity and thought. He had passed quickly through the separation of emotion and thought, through the flame into itself. All came easy and natural to him now, rarely did he even think on the process. But this morning he had. He had taken the time to walk the passage into the void slowly and deliberately. His goal was a deeper depth, a place he had not visited in a long time. Breathing in deeply once more Corin let the blackened quick of the candle grow to surround him; blackness and isolation. Everything was nothing and nothing existed in the center of that darkness. He breathed again deep in his chest as if his very heart drew the breath on its own. Felt the flow of air fill his nose; a cool pooling behind his eyes. The pressure of it pushed at the walls of his lungs and diaphragm as if to remind him of his limits. For a lasting moment he held the breath within, savouring the growing warmth in his chest as his body heated the air; then released it in a long slow silent sigh. As the breath left his body it carried away the last vestiges of self and internal chaos. In the emptiness that remained he floated as if a stick on the surface of the ocean. Here there was nothing and everything. The wash of sunlight across his face held the gentleness of a butterfly kiss and the warmth of a lover’s lips. The smell of the grass and the dirt beneath it a solid earthy anchor to hold him steadfast and offer him a sure footing. This was the levels he sought. The place he had not visited in far too long a span. The jumbled puzzles that plagued his mind once more slithered across the glassy dome surrounding him. He watched each one with fascination; a child’s curiosity. The world outside held so many complex and meaningless requests of him. Why did it have to be so? Misplaced trust flickered on the outside before fading back into the abyss. He had placed a great deal of trust in Sirayn. Too much in fact, allowing himself to be distracted from true purpose. If he had resisted the worlds follies of that relationship and listened more deeply to what was not said would she still be here with them? Even deep within the void, an answer to that question would never surface. That was the work of the Wheel as it was with all things. Once the wheel had spun out the fate there was nothing mortal man could do to reclaim it. It was an acceptance he knew he would have to accept even thought for now he could not. Soon he would have to close that chapter of his life and allow the Wheel to use him as it needed once more. As much as he continued to fight the thought he was slowly beginning to realize that the Wheel had not finished with his thread and it’s interweaving with Lavinya. His only hope now was that it was not his intense wool headed stubbornness to accept the new path the Wheel was trying to weave him to that had cause the remove of Sirayn’s thread. Even deep in the isolation of the void Corin could feel another part of his heart slowly die and harden. He made a poor offering for Lavinya but the Wheel did not seem to see it the same way. In answer to his unvoiced questions, his skin brought note of movement in the flow of air. Small currents and eddies announced the movement and the slight floral scent tinged with vanilla named it Lavinya. Without opening his eyes he indicated to a place across from him centered on the fan of bright edges. There was a pause before he felt movement again; the brief cast of a shadow across his face. To what reaction she might have had to his silent indication he did not know. It was not necessary, only that she was here and kept an open mind. He took a few more moments in the peaceful separation to mentally prepare himself for their dance. They had found a measure of common footing and last night seemed to cement their present truce even more. He Hoped it would last, she would probably not believe him if he were to say it, but he hated fighting with her; especially with her. “I see you have found my note, are you ready to learn?” Corin opened his eyes, his face was soft but traces of emotion and exhaustion were beginning to edge his features as the tranquility of the void slipped from him.
  13. A girl sat on her bed in the Accepted's quarters in the White Tower on the island of Tar Valon surrounded by the Erinin River in the northeastern corner of the Westlands. She sits with her legs folded under her and she is closely examining a Great Serpent ring - her Great Serpent ring. She turned the golden snake over and over in her hands, feeling every detail. Jasmyne was frowning at her ring. She had worn this ring for at least ten years. She had actually lost count. How much longer would it take for her to get the second piece? She wanted a shawl. She didn't care what color it was, unless it was White. She would have taken nearly any color as long as she got a shawl. The striped dress was growing abhorrent. She brushed her hair out of her eyes. It was getting longer now: it was down past her ears. However, she looked a bit boyish in it, and felt it too. Her door opened without a knock and permitted an Aes Sedai. She could not tell who for her candle did not quite reach that far. Unsurprisingly, the voice she heard was most certainly belonging to Larindhra, the Mistress of Novices. However, it was unlike her to appear this late. It was past curfew. From her shadowed face, the most shocking words she ever heard came. She had just been wishing for those words, but it was so shocking to actually hear them. "Jasmyne Ceres, you are called to be tested for Aes Sedai." She quickly got up and followed after the Red. She was thankful that she had decided to stay dressed for a while. She trotted after the Aes Sedai. She sure hoped she was ready for this. She couldn't afford not to be. This Hallway went further than she had been before. She was led into a large room much like the one for the test for Accepted, but the ter'angreal was significantly different. It was a single oval shape. There were also many more Aes Sedai than before. One spoke. “You come in ignorance Jasmyne Ceres, how would you depart?” “In knowledge of myself.” She responded as confident as she could muster. Aes Sedai were always strong, even if they were nervous. “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,” She was then quickly briefed on her instructions. Small glowing pad to weave on, weave the correct weave, etc. she nodded, undressed, and then glided into the oval. She emerged on the other side in a very fine and expensive dress. At a glace, it appeared to be woven gold. The irony of this was that she was nearly waist deep in a swamp. A very muddy swamp. She looked around and saw the glowing mark a little ways off on top of a tree root sticking out over the swamp. She started to work her way over, but it was a rather difficult task. Her legs were short and by the feel of it, the hem of the dress was very narrow and movement constricting. The branch was higher than before once she got to it, or perhaps she was just deeper in now. She looked down and it was definitely above her bosom. Short little arms reached up and took a firm grip of the monstrous root. The muddy water held her in down quite well and she didn't have the upper body strength to pull free. She would have to muck her way over to the tree base. It was a rather slippery tree, but she got up on it with much grunting. The idea of ripping the constricting dress ran through her head many times. It would have been much easier to get up if she had. She put her arms out and balanced over to where the symbol was. It seemed as soon as she set foot on the pad, the entire marsh came to life with the worst possible wildlife. Alligators covered the top of the swamp water. Mosquitos, bees, and all sorts of annoying and biting insects filled the air. Every kind of snake were suddenly dropping out of the overhead branches and crawling towards her. She started her first weave, and then proceeded to deal out punishment to the creatures that wished her harm. She wove a large wave into the swamp and deterred the alligators for a moment. Her training with Jagen Sedai had certainly paid off. She wove fire into the Air and a wave of Flames consumed many insects, but they just replenished themselves quicker than anything should have. The snakes were awfully close to her, so she decided a air shield around and below her would suffice, while a fire shield hovered above that to keep her air supply semi-constant. Cobras and adders struck at the shield and bounced off, the she was losing oxygen. The fire was using hers up. A thought came to her. These were all cold-blooded creatures. She strongly wove a simple weave and the temperature suddenly dropped to below freezing. The alligators retreated into the swamp, bugs dropped from the sky, and the snakes hissed in disgust. She quickly finished off the absurdly complicated and useless weave, then was suddenly gone. She appeared in another setting. It was brightly lit and plat. The pad was on a hill in the distance and she could see it clearly. She looked down and she was in her birthday suit and up to her shoulders in briars, nettles, and itchweed. And….there were ants in it. Very possibly also mites and biting beetles as well. She must remain calm. She must not scratch. She walked forward with her fists balled up beside her, the itching getting worse with every step. Needles brushed against her constantly and she could not imagine a less comfortable situation. Sweat poured down her face with concentration to not scratch herself. She increased her pace and finally got out onto the hill. She itched like mad and her eyes were tearing up. The glowing pad lay in front of her and she stepped onto it. She started the second weave and a strong wind filled with cottonwood fluff blew past her. There was so much that it was blinding and it kept getting in her mouth and sticking to her sweat. It was gone as fast it came, but then the most peculiar phenomenon occurred. It began to rain…vinegar? GREAT LORD! That stings! It was very hard to keep straight posture and not scratch. She wove a bit quicker. It rained harder. Her eyes began to burn. Must weave faster! Discreetly faster. The weave was done and she was gone. This is exhausting! She thought as she appeared in the last world she would have to face. The creativity of the Aes Sedai working the ter'angreal was commendable. Who knew that large housewives trying to force-feed you could be so horribly distracting? What were they up to this time? It was the grand finale, so to say, so they would have to outdo themselves for this. She was in a simple garb and where she was appeared to be a barren wasteland of solid rock. Her symbol was only a few feet away and there was nothing out of the ordinary that she could see. She stepped carefully and nothing happened. She stepped onto the pad and waited for the bang. Nothing. She started to weave and it happened. The ground all around her shook violently and cracked open. Lava and steam exploded into the air and was falling around her. Hastily she wove a shield to block the large pieces of molten rock that were intent on landing on her. Hot steam then shot right up her dress and burned her legs and waist while scalding her torso. She concentrated hard to not scream or jump or run or something foolish like that. She was far too stubborn to give up now and she knew it. A weave of air deflected the steam away from her and she continued her weave. The ground shook harder and she nearly lost her balance. She wove a pair of rock bands around her feet so she wouldn't move from the spot. Her weave was nearly done. Another burst of steam shot into her face and she very nearly lost her weave. She deflected that one, crying from the pain. The weave came together and she was gone. She emerged into the room and found herself completely unblemished in any way. The itching was gone too. Just a faint memory of it all. The other sisters were quiet and she donned her Accepted dress, then returned to her rooms for reflection. The candle she had left burning before had gone out in the time she was gone. She left it that way. She needed time to reflect and the darkness was far less distracting. She lay on her bed, absentmindedly scratching her arms. She wasn't itchy, but the memory of it made her feel like she was. Her mind was so lost in thoughts that she eventually just faded into a restless sleep. She awoke to a knocking on her door. She rubbed her eyes and there were seven Aes Sedai standing in her room, one from each Ajah. Interesting enough, they were in alphabetical order by Ajah name from left to right. she did not know the Blue sister, Cara Sedai was the Brown, Alitacia the Gray, Janine the Green, Larindhra the Red, Lillith the White, and Respa the Yellow. "The time has come, Jasmyne Ceres, for you to swear the Three Oaths and become an Aes Sedai. The Amyrlin awaits. They all left and she followed them. Butterflies filled her stomach, worse than the night before. Why was this more un-nerving? They were back in the room with the strange oval ter'angreal. The Amyrlin was standing on the opposite side of the oval, and the Keeper was beside her holding a tassled cushion containing another ter'angreal. The Oath Rod. The Sitters of each Ajah stood in a semi-circle behind Kathana plus the newest Aes Sedai of each Ajah holding a shawl. A shawl that each one wanted to place on her shoulders. She only recognized two of them Jagen stood with the Reds and Kabria with the Greens. Those two were the only two she had ever really considered, and she had decided which one wins back when she made another major decision. She confidently stepped through the oval ter'angreal and approached the Amyrlin Seat. The Keeper gave Kathana the Oath Rod and she spoke. “Your time has come, child. Speak the Oaths and seal yourself to us forever.” She placed the thin white rod into Jasmyne's tiny hands and wove Spirit into it. "Under the Light, I swear to speak no word that is not true." Her eyes widened as she felt something constrict onto her skin, like a second skin. It was the oddest feeling. It was tight. "Under the Light," she continued, "I swear to make no weapon with which one man may kill another." This one was just as tight over her skin. She hoped they would not crush her. "Under the Light, I swear never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last defense of my own life, that of my Warder, or that of another Aes Sedai." That last one came just as the other. She almost held her breath in expectance. "Jasmyne Sedai, it is done. You have sworn the Three Oaths, and may now petition your Ajah." The Amyrlin took the Oath Rod and put it on the cushion, then stepped back. She stood and eyed all the Sisters over. She wanted to make sure she was right. She lingered over Jaydena Sedai, Eadon Sedai, and Loraine Sedai. She lingered over Raslyn Sedai, Shevara Sedai, and Zarinen Sedai as well. With a deep breath she stepped forward towards Jagen Sedai. "If it pleases you, Aes Sedai, I seek admittance into the Red Ajah" She heard a gasp, then a thump. All heads in the room turned to see the Mistress of Novices sprawled on the stone floor. She had fainted in shock. Respa tended her and she awoke, then all the other filed out of the room. Just her and the Reds.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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?”
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. "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.
  21. 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.
  22. "I've been hunted, captured and neutered. What could you possibly want from me?". Nynaeve considered the man for a moment. Sympathy surfaced, yet she knew that what was done to him had to be done. There was no way around it. Channeling men couldn't be allowed to roam around free. They couldn't be trusted with the power they possessed, whether they had high potential or not. The faintest use of the power could be lethal in the hands of a lunatic. They had to be denied of Saidin at any cost or otherwise they'd spread destruction every way they turned. "I want to study you, Joseph. For that, I need your consent. I wouldn't be able to do it properly if you fight me." Joseph's bitter laugh rang in Nynaeve's ears. His face was hollow and his eyes were emotionless. The combination sent chills down her spine. Joseph was condemned by the White Tower to a life without Saidin. It was a well known fact that most men didn't survive long after a gentling. Taking away their access to the source seemed to take away their will to live as well. Nynaeve hoped to find a way to prevent that through her study. She refused to believe that doing the right thing had to result in death. Even if it was not immediate, gentling and stilling seemed to be a death sentence. "What could you possibly learn from me? I'm nothing but a shell of the person I once was. Thanks to you and your kind." Nynaeve wrinkled her brows. He was resentful. But it was a defeated hate. She had no doubt that the man that was standing in front of her was only a speck of what he used to be. With his spirit broken and what he cherished the most taken away, he didn't seem to want to carry on. Could she blame him? "You will not cooperate, then?", Nynaeve inquired. She didn't usually beat around the bush and liked to go straight to the point. If the man refused to help, pressure would have to be applied. It was in everyone's best interest for him to be persuaded. And even if Joseph would never have believed it, she did not wish to put him through more grief. He went through enough as it was. Joseph never responded. Was that a reply in itself? "Your family came looking for you earlier." An emotion passed over Joseph's expression like a shadow. "Tell them I'm gone. Dead and buried." His eyes burned of remorse, yet they were determined. Nynaeve smiled. "No." His empty eyes locked with hers as fury washed over them. "If you meet me on a daily basis for sessions, I will arrange for them to leave, ignorant of your presence here. If you refuse, you will have to face your wife and children and tell them that they're simply not important enough for you to want to carry on living. Your wife's name is Jusie, correct? She's a stunning woman. And little Toby has the biggest crystal blue eyes I've ever seen. The way they shine up when you….". Nynaeve's words were cut off as the man hurled himself at her, his hands going to her throat. Weaving some air threads hastily, she stopped Joseph, who was now only inches away. She knew his family would be a risky card to use. But he left her no choice by refusing to help her. She could not stand aside and see so many men die when their only crime was to be cursed by two things. Being able to channel and being male. There had to be a solution and Nynaeve had to find it. It was time for everyone to realize that Yellows could heal more then just wounds. They could heal lives as well. "No need to get agitated, Joseph. I was simply complimenting your lovely family, that is all." Nynaeve eyed him for a moment and then released the weaves that surrounded him. "I'm trusting you here, Joseph. Care to return the favor?" Joseph's expression seemed pained. He was thinking of his family, no doubt. Tears started to slide down his cheeks. He leaned against the wall and slid slowly down, his knees giving away. "You will tell them…the shame….I love them but….I can't….". Nynaeve rested her hand on his shoulder. "It will be taken care of. Rest now. We'll speak again tomorrow." Nynaeve left the room, pleased at her progress. If Joseph only knew that their session really started when she first stepped into the room. Nyn Yellow
  23. Thwack… A shimmering silver blade flew through the air and pierced through the slick oil painting, lodging itself into the wall behind it. Glowing at the end of the hilt was a shining sapphire that resembled the flame of Tar Valon. Not now, though. It appeared to be too much like a tear drop. “Hah! A tear drop! I’d be cursed by the Dark One’s own luck if I shed another bloody tear!” An enraged voice pierced through the silence. Thwack… Another blade, another scream, another hole in the wall. The small hands that wielded the knives were pale, almost ivory in colour, and shook with the anger so accustomed to her people. Saldaeans were known to erupt in a rage; however, it was usually over something petty like being jealous of another woman. No, this was nothing like that. Emptiness, loneliness, darkness, and pain that none but an Aes Sedai could endure, flowed through the blood of this tiny woman. For Ages and Ages, the female channellers of the White Tower had been dealing with the death of their Warders, many of them made it through the suffering alive, and lived on to Bond another. No… not this… She pleaded with herself. However, usually, the Aes Sedai would remain with the Gaidin or Gaidar for quite some time, before the time would come to release their mortal shells into the depths of the earth, the last embrace of the Mother. Not this Sedai. Her wounds cut deep, and seemed to bleed eternally. Thwack… The blade seemed to shake the entire way towards the painting, and when steel met wood, the hilt wobbled from the force behind the throw. The painting could handle the thrusts…but could she? Could Serena Morrigan, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah, bear the loss of a fourth Gaidin? Could she handle the stabbing pain in her chest, the un-ending nights of waking to gasping sobs, and the re-occurring notion to destroy everything that crossed her path? Let alone, keep herself alive? Thwack… Granted, two of her Bondmates were still alive. One, was slowly going mad, although he would surely deny it; and the other... Oh, Thera…Why? Serena’s chest heaved as she felt a sob building. It seemed to wash over her body like a wave exploding from her heart. Was it possible, that having a beloved Gaidar, whom you loved more than anything, marry a man and forget all about you while you were busy trying to save blasted lives, be worse than all of the others? Light, she was still alive; yet, Serena pined for the woman like a bloody lost puppy. Yes, their bond had been broken, but that did not mean the woman had to move on. Did it? The slow creaking of hinges broke Serena’s concentration, and she turned towards her door quickly. Without thought, she lifted her hand to the side of her head and thrust her last knife at the door. A familiar face glared back at her. To her dismay, the Saldaean Aes Sedai did not hear the comforting sound of the steel penetrating the wood. Instead, it hung in the air, mere inches before Estel Liones. “A few years late, don’t you think?” Light, it was a good thing she’d been on her toes coming in or else she’d have a nasty hole in her chest. While a knife imbedded in one’s body certainly made a fashion statement, they were hardly the most comfortable of accessories; idly the Domani ran a finger along her forearm where an inch-long scar stood testament to one of the many rather miserable days the Blue had experienced. “What have I done recently to elicit this sort of welcome?” Considering the Red Amyrlin and recent change in Ajah leadership, coupled with the return of its least favourite member, the sound of periodic thunking was hardly an uncommon occurrence in the Blue Quarters these days. Nastascia, at least, no doubt spent countless hours of the day thunking her head against her desk and Light knew the reason for her frustration spent excessive periods of time thunking the brandy bottles she was no longer allowed to drink against the walls. With the threat of Tarmon Gaidon looming over their heads, younger Blues spent as much time as possible thunking their Warders (or each other) today, lest they be thunked on the head by a Trolloc tomorrow. However, today’s source of thunking came from a particularly familiar room that hadn’t been occupied since Estel’s last escapade from the Tower. Serena had left shortly after the Watchers group had been released from their Bonds and, at the time, the younger Blue had been in no condition to talk to anyone – least of all her “babysitter”. Some two months later found in her in a... if not healthy, at least more balanced state of mind. Besides, she and Lavinya had an incredibly tenuous agreement concerning Order Members. Therefore she’d gone to investigate, and barely survived, her one-time friend’s return to the Tower.
  24. 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
  25. 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.
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