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For all her claimed ‘worldliness,’ Viviane had never visited the Black Tower. Not until today. The large black stoned wall loomed before her, it’s heavy doors surprisingly open. Men in black coats sat watch, to be sure, but it was still a shock to see. The openness implied freedom and welcome. The White Tower had made peace with this group, but that did not mean there were not hushed whispers in the hallowed halls of the Tower; whispers about the madmen of the Black Tower and their tainted Saidin. Codswallop is what that was. If the Red Ajah could get over their past prejudices, then so should the other Sisters. If only more of them would come and see for themselves that there was nothing to fear. In truth, that was why she had come herself. Viviane Accylon still held some prejudice in her heart, but Light, she was determined to banish those feelings. She supported the Tower’s decision to play nice with these boys, and yes, she also accepted the new role her Ajah would play… She just never thought that Saidin would be cleansed… She never thought that the Last Battle would actually occur in her lifetime, but these were strange times. The Dragon Reborn walked the land and all things would be remade in his passing- once the Dark One was dealt with. Prophecy said as much. The Gateway winked out behind Viviane, not one she had Woven, she was unable to unaided; two Tower Guards remained as an escort. It was bad form, Viviane knew that, but most could understand her unease. As a sign of good faith, the pair would wait here for her, once she decided to make her return trip to the White Tower. Despite what the escort may have said to the observer, Viviane was still the picture of Aes Sedai calm and authority. A light breeze danced through the air, swirling Viviane’s coiled, ginger hair about her shoulders. The full skirts of her deep violet dress rustled against her legs, dagger sleeves waving this way and that. She held her hands clasped at her waist, patiently waiting for her contact to show. Ful Heart. That young man was a junior member of the Black Tower, not yet having earned both of the Asha’man pins. The thought softened Viviane’s nerves a touch. Surely, this Ful was still green behind the ears. Nothing she couldn’t handle with a few well-placed looks or sniffs. The two guards at the Gate seemed to be speaking between themselves, finally having spotted Viviane and her own escort. They did not come to greet her. Where was their propriety? Their decorum? And where in the Light was this Ful Heart?
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.
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.
It just wasn’t fair. Viviane had not been in the Tower for more than a few months at most, yet she had already made an enemy. It was silly, really. She didn’t even know her ‘enemy’s’ name. Some poor Accepted had misconstrued a supposed relationship between Ravenhild and herself. In this Accepted’s eyes, Ravenhild and Viviane had apparently started some conspiracy to get the Accepted kicked out of the Tower! P’shaw! That was utter folly. Viviane didn’t even know the girl’s name, much less have the urge to conspire against her. The life of a Novice was a stressful one, Viviane didn’t even have the time to mess with this girl, much less conspire against her. It seemed to Viviane that this girl had nothing better to do with the time she had between chores and studying. That has to be it. This Accepted is just bored, or she’s looking for someone to take her frustration out upon. From what I’ve seen, it’s not uncommon for Accepted to pick on Novices… Light, at times it almost seems like it’s encouraged! Still… That does not make it right. Operating on assumption, Viviane figured this girl must be the paranoid type. That or she was looking for attention. Perhaps the Accepted and Raven had a history; that would’ve made much more sense… if she was only targeting Raven. That still didn’t tell Viviane why she was also being targeted. She had done nothing more than be cordial towards Ravenhild, which any civilized person would do. If this Accepted was seeing shadows where there were none, then she would not last long enough to attain the Shawl. Light… I’ve only had a few classes with Ravenhild; maybe talked to her a handful of times outside of class. Our rooms are right next to each other. That is the only thing that can possibly draw us to each other. That is it. What am I do to? Be a terrible neighbor and ignore all of the women on my floor? There is a whisper-hole connecting Ravenhild’s room and my own. If I were not friendly to her, she might turn against me. Light knows she could spy on me with that hole connecting our rooms… Viviane was being paranoid, an old habit which she had to quell. An Aes Sedai was not the paranoid sort; she was discerning and intelligent. No. Viviane would not be paranoid, and yes, she would be cordial to the other Novices. Viviane might not trust most Aes Sedai, but that was not to say she couldn’t form bonds with other women in her position. Ravenhild wanted to escape the Tower, this was known amongst Novices, which was not much different from distrusting Aes Sedai. Perhaps there was a bridge that could be formed between Ravenhild and Viviane. Hah! The enemy of my enemy is my friend, but dare I? Ashes are easy enough to acquire. It’s an old trick, not too difficult to pull off… Despite all the thoughts and emotion running through her head, the one thing Viviane felt was anger. It really wasn’t fair, being targeted for no specific reason. Viviane was here to learn and then get on with her life. This Accepted had no right to meddle where she was not wanted. Before she knew it, Viviane was standing before a plain wooden door. She was only paces from her own room. Ravenhild should be on the other side of that door, hopefully unoccupied. If Viviane was right, Raven just might be amenable to her suggestion. Just a light prank. Ashes and embarrassment. It will be just cruel enough to get the Accepted to lay off. Light knows we have enough to deal with… Ravenhild better agree, otherwise I’ll have to carry this out on my own. Viviane straightened her spine, threw her head back, and knocked at Ravenhild’s door.