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Session 21 (Kheldar)

Played on 2005/03/20

As written by the hand of Kheldar

10th Day of Jumara, 1000 NE (continued)

So there we stood, on the shores on the outer side. The captain had made it clear that he would prefer not to moor at a harbour on the island, seeing how the current situation was. Having received no further updates on the status of Tar Valon, this actually accommodated us. It did not take long for the Initiates to pick up their favourite pastime once more, when we had departed. Suffice it to say that it took about half an hour of discuing (neither 'discussing' nor 'arguing' would do justice) before they finally got round to confisquating horses.

The tension in the hamlet was obvious, which we took as an indication that affairs had yet to be set in order. Since the area did not resemble a post-One Power apocalypse - the clue to that being that there still stood buildings within visible range - it seemed that Egwene al'Vere, Flame of Tar Valon, had not yet begun the confrontation. Given our instructions to return to Tar Valon, they would probably have set up a base camp in the vicinity. To hide a large encampment from the Aes Sedai who currently held the Tower, a suitable location would have to be found. The only place where a camp would not stick out as a sore thumb, would be in the slopes of the Dragonmount.

This, at least, was how we reasoned. Therefore, we set out and made quite some headway towards that mountain. After a while the grounds acquired more slope, and a short while later we found ourselves amidst the hills. I occasionally urged my mount to scale the ever-steeper inclines for a vantage viewing point, but to little avail. If scaling a hill and looking around was all it took to find the encampment, then matters would have probably been settled one way or the other already.

Just as I was guiding my mount downwards once more, the Accepted left the route and went straight into the hills. After catching up, they explained that they had vaguely experienced emanations from the One True Power. Well, it did beat any alternative I could come up with...

After about half an hour we came upon tracks. Tadra was confident in her judgement: this path had been taken often and by various small groups, recently. A promising sign. Naturally, our group followed the the tracks. Suddenly, a group of four Warders emerged from the surrounding woodlands and stopped us, demanding to know our destination. Beh'larah explained, that we had ventured out here to meet up with the Flame of Tar Valon, to which the response was: "which one?"

It took some constrain not to exclaim "What? They both are here?" or similar. They are able fighters, I will grant Warders that, but at such occasions I wonder if the cost for their aptitude with the martial arts might not have been their intelligence.

Beh'larah explained we had journeyed here to meet Egwene al'Vere. This apparently satisfied the leading Warder, and we were guided to the encampment - an apparent rag-tag assembly of tents, people and animals. However, the astute observer noticed an underlying structure to this chaotic-seeming mishmash. We were quickly conducted to the Amyrlin Seat, where Beh'larah started relating the events of late.

The Amyrlin Seat seemed particularly interested in the staff we acquired from Lord Gaebril's fledgling Sisterhood. She summoned Elayne Sedai and Nyneave Sedai and asked them to investigate whether this staff is an Oathrod - a ter'angreal that is used to bind persons to oaths, instrumental in taking the Oaths that are necessary to become full-fledged Aes Sedai.

This explained the focus of the Amyrlin Seat on the staff - if it is truly an Oathrod, then this branch of the Tower could begin to fully complete the education of Initiates and to allow them to face the trials necessary to become full members of the Sisterhood. In short, it enabled the continued existance for this branch of the Tower.

We were all granted the honour of dining with the Amyrlin Seat. During dinner, an overjoyous Elayne ran in, and silently whispered in the Mother's ear. The message seems quite clear, but still, when the Amyrlin Seat acknowledged that we have brought a true Oathrod to our camp, our Initiates seemed somewhat relieved and anxious at the same time. The Amyrlin Seat continued to state that in light of our handling of recent events, she offers the Initiated the possibility to face the final (extreme) trials - if they feel they are ready. The Keeper seemed inclined to protest, but a single hush from the Amyrlin Seat made her keep her peace. After a short pause, all Initates agree to face the trials.

For our parts in those dealings, Egwene announced that Tadra and myself would be proclaimed Friends of the Amyrlin Seat. I was rather overwhelmed by this honour. It is not even only a honorific title, it also bestows upon the bearer the possibility to invoke the aid of Warders and Sisters, as far as their capabilities allow.

Tadra and myself are also invited as honorary guards during the trials. This gesture from the Amyrlin Seat means that I can be present at this grand achievement of my close companions, and therefore this gesture is at least as important to me as the promised title. The ritual will take place at about an hour to midnight, in a tent on a nearby hilltop. Luckily I was quickly able to lend some fine, white clothes, brush my hair, et cetera. I felt I had done an excellent job given the circumstances. After a quick polish of my blade and my knifes, I was set to go!

Tadra, the Initiates and myself met up and ascended the hill. The Initates were all garbed in the traditional white dress of Initiates. It was hard to read their emotions, although it was easy to imagine the turmoil inside: apprehension, elation, reservation, doubt, et cetera. At the tent we encountered Sister Luanine, who was to assist the Amyrlin Seat in this ceremony, and one Warder. Egwene gave a short introduction: all three Initiates would take the test simultaneously. They might or might not be able to assist each other. Egwene and Luanine would together create a portal. As maintaining this portal would consume most of both ladies energies, there were guards present.

Hmm, it seemed I had overestimated the symbolicness of my role at these proceedings. Ah well, so be it, I had brought my weapons after all. After this, the wielders of the One Power went into the tent, and Tadra, the Warder and myself took up guard outside the tent. The time seemed to creep by, and I was somewhat nervous, but nothing out of the ordinary presented itself.

Then, suddenly, there was an uproar from the direction of the encampment. I left my post to look down from a vantage point. It was obvious, the camp was under attack! I bit my lip; as guard I could not leave the Amyrlin Seat, nor my friends, but there seemed little I could do here and much that I could have done down there. At first it seemed our forces would be overrun within minutes, but that did not occur and we seemed to hold our own pretty well.

As I turned around to inform Tadra and the Warder of this good news, I heared a death-defying scream from inside. I rushed in and found the Warder gone, and Luanine Sedai been murdered by two... I still cannot find accurate words to describe these beings. They seemed less than human, moving in an all but impossible manner for humans. They also seemed to have a quality that Warders also have: it was difficult to recall their looks, they seemed somehow cloaked.

Battle ensued. Tadra was not doing that bad, and since I had learned quite a bit I felt somewhat confident myself. My mistake. My knife was more a hinder than a help, so I dropped it after a frighteningly powerful hit. I fought more cautious then, but still the thing managed to score a serious hit. The blood was flowing freely from these two wounds, and I was obviously outclassed in this match. I turned to a complete defensive stance, which allowed me to evade another couple of close calls. However, the beast was standing close to the Amyrlin Seat and as now I was no longer pressuring him, he might attack her.

Luckily, Tadra finished off her opponent and stepped in to wreck havoc upon mine. I sank to the floor, hardly conscious, and emptied my wounded stomach. The effort sent pain spasms throughout my body, but I felt somewhat relieved afterwards. Tadra managed to neutralise this threat as well, and then told me to guard the tent while she went looking for more trouble outside. I pushed myself up against the central pole of the tent, and tightened the grip on my rapier. Should anything occur, I would at least be ready. Somewhat.

At that moment, the Initiates seemed to fall from the gateway. This was the first time I realised that the Amyrlin Seat was maintaining the Gateway all by herself, and became aware of her strained breathing. At the moment the Initates were expulsed from the gateway, she began to sink to the floor. One breath later, the gateway whisked out of existance.

To summarize the following: The Initiates attended the Amyrlin Seat and also saw to my wounds. By the time we left the tent, we could see that the battle had been all but won by our forces.

11th Day of Jumara, 1000 NE

Today is a special day. The feast to celebrate the new Sisters was splendid, and after last night's fight I felt there was now some basis for the medal bestowed upon me and Tadra, proclaiming us Friends of the Amyrlin Seat. During the festivities I already noted many glances in various directions, and many a private conversation. The installation of new Aes Sedai and proclaiming Tadra and myself as Friends most certainly will upset the delicate political balance that was present. Given our recent adventures and the events of today, I can only look with apprehension towards the future. Interesting times are upon us, that much is for sure.

Was Signed,

Kheldar, Friend to the Flame of Tar Valon

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