She had been tired earlier, but Lillith wasn’t sure she’d be sleeping again for some time. Sure, she was exhausted, and all the more so for the trial she had just undergone and passed – the test for Aes Sedai.
Tonight was for reflection, she had been taught, and the young Domani was fervently about the task. Wan candlelight bathed her form – a ghost of a woman in the dress of an Accepted, curled up in the fetal position on her bed. Her fingers gripped rainbow-hemmed skirts tightly; her eyes lost in a faraway stare.
She had convinced herself over the years as an Accepted that nothing could hurt as much as the test for Accepted itself; the pain of being reminded that she had abandoned her father, her only family and the only person near her heart, had been too much to bear, and it still stung on some level.
A star of fire…
And yet, this… experience had been even more harrowing. One hundred weaves, one hundred scenarios, and all under a caveat of absolute calm. “I must have been mad to want this,” Lillith croaked in a voice sounding as old as the Wheel, “Mad to have wanted this… but I’m stuck for it now.”
Through that oval ter’angreal, she had been assaulted, accosted, and thoroughly harassed. Crowds formed around her demanding answers to questions she couldn’t give, and the star on their far side. She had found herself in a glass maze with observers on all sides. Men had tried to seduce her – Lillith had almost completely lost it then, if not for that faint whisper of a memory that she must remain absolutely calm.
Growling softly to herself, Lillith unwound herself and clambered off the bed, pausing only to smooth down the wrinkled coverlet. ”Bah,” she thought as she reached for a hairbrush, ”Fa.. Father always said I was a stubborn girl, and I shouldn’t waste it being stubbornly self-piteous. I mean.. I passed an almost impossible test, and in the morning I shall be an Aes Sedai.”
As she brushed her short hair, Lillith continued musing to herself, “But why did I ever choose this life? Even knowing that I’ll be an Aes Sedai in the morning doesn’t clarify or magically outline what to do with myself… even if my Ajah of choice accepts me.” For the young Domani woman, the choice hadn’t been too difficult. The Green, Blue, and Red Ajahs seemed too boisterous and loud when it came to their purposes. The Browns and Yellows were bad in that way too, but not to such a severe degree. As for the Grays? Law and its applications were useful, true, but she could never see herself mediating disputes or forcing kings and queens to agree on peace when they wanted bloodshed.
Which left the White Ajah. Philosophers, ‘ice queens’, and so on; these women were abstract thinkers whose mission dealt with Truths, pure and simple. The Whites had appealed to her from the very beginning, but she could never put her finger on the why of it. She wasn’t really into figuring out the world via maths, or a believer in ‘world as illusion’. She knew it was said that by the time a woman was ready to swear her Oaths, she had been carefully guided towards the Ajah that would be right for her… but Lillith still had her doubts – Brown Sisters sure had taken an unwarranted interest in her!
Putting down the hairbrush, Lillith snorted to herself and headed across the small room to her wardrobe. “It’s a bit too late to worry about whether or not the Whites will take me or not,” she mumbled to herself as she fished a cleaner dress and shift out of the wardrobe She laid them out on the bed, then turned her attention on the washbasin and pitcher. Embracing Saidar, she channeled a thin thread of Fire into the pitcher to heat up the water. Even knowing that she was as good as Aes Sedai, she caught herself checking around the room to make sure no one had noticed. Chuckling to herself as she stripped down, she then poured the water and reached for a clean washcloth. “Silly girl,” Lillith murmured to herself as she started washing herself off, “It’s not like anyone is going to spring out from under the bed and denounce you for heating a bit of water… especially not this night, and doubly so at this late hour.”
Suddenly, she sighed and stopped her ablutions. She knew that she was just trying to distract herself from the events of earlier that evening. A normal way to deal with shock and stress, she knew… but she was still ambivalent on the matter. Forcing herself to continue in her washing, Lillith mused, ”Part of me is going to want to curl up and cry for awhile… not a surprise; I have no idea how everyone ever raised to the shawl makes it through that! But on the other hand, my world is about to completely change and expand, so why should I waste my time moping?”
As she put down the washrag to reach for clean toweling, she stopped again, this time to laugh. That is, if she hadn’t bit down on her lip to prevent herself howling. Taking a couple of deep breaths, Lillith managed to get her laughter under control. ”I think I’ve just managed to justify myself as White Ajah material,” she thought, he eyes twinkling mirthfully as she finished drying off. With some fragile sense of self and balance restored, the young White Sister-to-be dressed. Morning and all it brought wasn’t that far off.
Part Two: Daylight
As a new day dawned over Tar Valon, Lillith had to stop herself from yawning yet again. In spite of herself, she had dozed off a couple of times. She stood up and began pacing again; it would be very bad form to be asleep when they came for her!
She was still reeling from the test, and feeling about as solid as mist; Lillith was unable to remember a time in her life she felt as emotionally drained as she did right then. Her mother had died when she was too young to comprehend what was happening, but the loss of a family member was the closest emotionally traumatic experience she could figure out. ”But you’re not really losing anything in the oval ter’angreal… more like a crash course on yourself and life,” Lillith thought to herself as she rubbed her eyes and resumed her pacing, “Perhaps it’s more that individuals shouldn’t have so many self-revelations thrust upon them in one day.”
She was shocked out of her review by a knock sounding through the door; three firm raps, and no more. Taking a deep breath, the Domani woman gave herself a quick once-over in the mirror, and forced herself to proceed sedately to the door. Outside waited a Sister from each Ajah, who formed a circle around her as she exited her room into the hallway.
The proceeded silently, down into the bowels of the Tower. Lillith forced herself to maintain a calm demeanor; she kept her breathing even, her hands were clasped loosely before her, and her face a mask of calm. Her mind was unnaturally still… until she remembered where exactly they were going.
Taking a deep breath, Lillith couldn’t help but stare slightly at the open door, knowing… that bloody ter’angreal was in there, and that she’d have to pass through it once again.
”Who comes here?” a voice demanded loudly from within the chamber.
Taking another deep breath, Lillith replied, “Lillith Izmorova.”
”For what reason do you come?” the voice demanded.
Feeling on firmer footing as the ceremonial lines continued, Lillith called out, “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… for better or worse…”
“Then enter, if you dare, and bind yourself to the White Tower,” the voice intoned with a note of finality.
Steeling herself, Lillith entered the room. Keeping herself moving at an unhurried pace, she did her best to ignore the ter’angreal and focus past it. And so she did, her eyes focused on Karana Sedai, by the grace of the light, the Amyrlin Seat. Lillith felt a flash of… comfort… surge through her as she approached and knelt before the older Domani, but she kept herself from smiling at what was about to happen.
All of Lillith’s attention remained on Karana as the Amyrlin took the Oath Rod from her Keeper, laid it into Lillith’s upraised hands, and channeled a small thread of Spirit into it. She closed her hands around the Rod, took another deep breath, and began to speak, “Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will speak no word that is not true.”
“Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will make no weapon for one man to kill another.”
“Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow that I will never use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme of defending my life or of my Warder, or another Sister.”
Ouch! Talk about a pain in the rear, this!
“It is half-done, and the White Tower is graven on your bones.” Karana did smile then, and continued, “Rise now, Aes Sedai, and choose your Ajah, and all will be done that may be done under the Light.”
Rising as smoothly as she could (for one who felt tied inside a sack, that is), Lillith curtsied and kissed the Amyrlin’s ring. Turning, she walked slowly towards the cluster of White Sisters. She didn’t notice the rest of the Aes Sedai as they began to leave, so intent on her walk towards the aforementioned… towards, she hoped, her new ‘family’.