The Great Stair Raising Template (Accepted)
From The Grey Tower Library
|The Great Stair (Accepted and Dedicated) - The Test for the Fancloak (Ji'val) - The Test of Honour (Drin) - The Three Arches (Novices and Soldiers)|
The summons comes by way of the Mistress of Novices appears before you, formally dressed and with the shawl of her Ajah across her shoulders. She utters but one word: "Attend."
The Mistress of Novices leads the Accepted from whatever activity they were doing, or from their rooms, up the winding staircases of the Grey Tower, to the floor beyond the Amyrlin and M'Hael's offices. You have never been here before, nor has anyone as far as you know. Torches light the way as the path becomes dark - there are no windows in this part of the Tower.
Finally your ascension ends at a broad set of double doors. Beyond, you step into a large, domed chamber ringed with stand-lamps. The light is reflected from the polished walls, and your eyes take a moment to adjust to the brightness after spending so long in the dimly lit corridors.
"Attend." Eight Aes Sedai, one from each of the Ajahs, step forward to stand in a ring around you, each gowned in the colour of her Ajah and wearing her shawl. The Mistress of Novices turns to you and continues. "You came here in ignorance. How would you depart?"
"In knowledge of myself," you 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."
"For what would you be found worthy?"
"To wear the shawl."
"Therefore I will instruct you." The Mistress of Novices turns to face towards the focal point of the room. A large golden archway stands in the centre of the room. The arch is only a couple of inches in width, but it spans over eight feet towards the high ceiling. You know this is the Great Stair -- a misnomer, for certain. "As you step into the Great Stair, you will be tested in weaves of the One Power, your knowledge of the Ajahs, and your suitability to join our sisterhood.
The Mistress of Novices gestures towards the archway. "You will be faced with the realities of another life you may have led, or may yet lead, inside the Great Stair. Remember what must be remembered."
"Remember what must be remembered." The Grey sister steps forward and lays a small, complex weave upon you. As she speaks, she dips her thumb into a small wooden bowl and smears a dab of sandalwood-scented oil on your forehead.
"Remember what must be remembered." It is the Brown sister who speaks, this time, again laying a small weave on you and giving a few words of instruction. The oil she uses to anoint you smells of bergamot.
"Remember what must be remembered." Each of the eight Aes Sedai lays her ward on you in turn. One by one, they anoint you with oil; jasmine for the Indigo, violets for the Blue, and lemon blossom for the Yellow. The cold, sharp winter mint of the Green contrasts sharply with the sweet rose of the White. A gentle scent of poppy for Red was as subtle as the others were strong.
"If you are ready, you may begin," the Mistress of Novices says solemnly. "May the Light illumine and keep you."
Nodding again in absent acknowledgement of her blessing, you move toward the archway. To hesitate or lose composure now would mean being turned out of the Tower, and so you keep your features smooth and expressionless despite what feelings might be rattling your nerves. One foot in front of the other, and the test has suddenly begun in earnest; you are inside the Great Stair.
Within the Great Stair, the Accepted is tested. The purpose of the test is to face who and what they are and will become. They will face their fears, hopes, dreams, and perhaps a bit of truth about the future.
The subject matter is entirely up to the writer. It can be set in the real world, or in an obvious Tel'aran'rhiod type of place. Sometimes past, sometimes present, sometimes future. It can span mere moments, or it could span years. Either way, the person being tested only spends an hour or so of real time within the test.
The golden light of the Great Stair fades, vision returning to the Accepted as they stagger out. The reflected light from several stand lamps dazzles you, and memory crashes in on you, nearly buckling your knees. Unable to think as the torrent floods you, you manage three more steps before stumbling to a halt. Light, you remember everything! You recall every weave, every uncertainty, every desperate grasp for more serenity than you felt.
The Mistress of Novices is there waiting, again with an Aes Sedai from each Ajah, the same women who sent you into the golden ter'angreal.
"It is done." The Mistress of Novices claps her hands together sharply, her expression solemn but her eyes twinkling with pride. "Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who has experienced it. It is done." Again, she claps loudly, and a third time. "It is done!"
"Who comes here?"
The voice comes from behind the Aes Sedai, the speaker remaining unseen for the moment. You answer with your name.
"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 Grey Tower."
"Then enter if you dare, and bind yourself to the Grey Tower." Finally, you realize the voice belongs to the Amyrlin Seat. After a pause, she continues. "We are not the White Tower. We are not the Black. We are Grey, and we forge our own path forward. We will not bind those that do not wish to be. Here, now, is the moment of your choice. Will you leave the Three Oaths behind? Or will you swear them?"
You give your answer.
|Accepted swearing the Three Oaths|
The Aes Sedai before you part, and you approach the Amyrlin with a smooth face and a steady tread, neither hurrying or lagging behind. The Amyrlin Seat stands calmly, the wide eight-striped stole about her neck; at her side is the Keeper of the Chronicles, her solid-colored stole much narrower, and she holds ready the black velvet cushion that bears the Oath Rod. Behind them, along the wall, stand the Heads of the eight Ajahs, each bearing a small bundle you know must contain a folded Shawl in the hopes you should choose them.
You kneel in front of the Amyrlin Seat, and although her expression does not change, you get the impression that she is pleased with you. She reaches out and takes the smooth ivory-colored Oath Rod from its cushion. You remember from your training that the Oath Rod is a ter'angreal that will bind you to the Oaths and they to you, but you are still uncertain just what that means. She holds it out, and you obediently put out your hands, where she lays it across your upturned palms. Embracing the Source, the Amyrlin Seat channels a thread of Spirit into the thing as you close your hands around it. It feels like glass, but somehow smoother.
"Repeat after me: Under the Light, by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear to speak no word that is untrue."
After the Oath is finished, you feel it settle on you like a second skin. You can still think a lie but your tongue will not work to produce it.
"Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow to make no weapon with which one man may kill another."
The Oath settles and your skin feels tighter, as though you have been sewn into an invisible garment much too tight, that is moulded from the crown of your head to the souls of your feet.
"Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I vow never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, in the last defence of my own life, that of my Warder, or that of another Brother or Sister of the Grey Tower."
The garment shrinks to still greater snugness. You try to breathe through your nose, clamping your jaws so it doesn't come out as a gasp. Invisible and utterly flexible, but oh so tight! You realise the feeling will fade, but not completely for a whole year. It will be another four years after that before you have the ageless face.
"It is done. The Oaths are graven on your bones. You are bound to the Grey Tower," says the Amyrlin as she replaces the Oath Rod on the waiting cushion. Taking your hands in hers, she gently removes the Great Serpent ring -- that symbol of eternity you earned when you gained Acceptance -- and replaces it on your right hand. "Rise now, Aes Sedai; choose your Ajah and take your place among us."
|Accepted not swearing the Three Oaths|
The Aes Sedai before you part, and you approach the Amyrlin with a smooth face and a steady tread, neither hurrying or lagging behind. The Amyrlin Seat stands calmly, the wide eight-striped stole about her neck; at her side is the Keeper of the Chronicles, her solid-colored stole much narrower, and she holds ready the black velvet cushion that bears the Oath Rod. Behind them, along the wall, stand the Heads of the eight Ajahs, each bearing a small bundle you know must contain a folded Shawl in the hopes you should choose them. The Keeper sets aside the cushion as you face the Amyrlin.
"Repeat after me," the Amyrlin says, holding her hand up palm out. "Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will endeavour to uphold the values of the Grey Tower. Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear that I will endeavour to use my Talents and my abilities in such a way that they will reflect positively on the Grey Tower."
You repeat the vow.
"It is done. You are bound to the Grey Tower," says the Amyrlin. Taking your hands in hers, she gently removes the Great Serpent ring -- that symbol of eternity you earned when you gained Acceptance -- and replaces it on your right hand. "Rise now, Aes Sedai; choose your Ajah and take your place among us."
You curtsy and bend to kiss the Amyrlin's ring, hurriedly rethinking your choice of Ajah, wondering if you ought to change your mind at the last minute. Time is short, though; rising, you make your choice.
After you announce your decision, the members of the other Ajahs make their obeisances to the Amyrlin Seat, nod to the Keeper, and quietly file out. The Amyrlin and Keeper follow, leaving you alone with the Head of your Ajah and one of your Sisters; what follows is Ajah business. You kneel before them and ask for formal acceptance; refusal is unheard of, but the forms must be observed.
"I am called to you, and I answer my calling now. I pray you, accept me as a Sister."
"Then rise, Sister."
Smiling, the Head of your new Ajah drapes the fringed Shawl around your shoulders and helps you to your feet. Your Sister steps forward to kiss both your cheeks.
"Welcome home Sister," she says. "We have waited long for you,"
In the company of a Sister and the Head of your Ajah, you leave the Oath Rod chamber at the pinnacle of the Grey Tower. You allow them to lead you down the stairs toward your new suite of rooms in the halls of your Ajah while they loudly proclaim the joyous news of your success.