|The Aes Sedai
|The Aes Sedai are a society from the fictional universe of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series of books. I have adapted several of Mr. Jordan's concepts to Andurin and made changes as necessary. --Stash
Aes Sedai, in the Old Tongue, means "servants of all," and the Aes Sedai of old lived up to this definition. They aided mankind as scientists, healers and philosophers. Women used sai'dar and men sai'din, as today, although it is believed that channelers in the Second Age were much stronger, or at least more knowledgeable in the One Power compared to their more modern equivalents; it is believed that they could fly, and things that would seem miraculous today were supposedly commonplace to them. Some of their lost Talents, such as Traveling (teleportation) and Dreaming, have only just been rediscovered. As today, however, the greatest works were wrought by men and women working together.
The Aes Sedai and the Dark One are not born of Andurin. They and He are born of another world, another dimension.
It was, ironically, an Aes Sedai research team at the Collam Daan that ripped open the Dark One's Prison. The researchers, headed by Mierin Eronaile, thought they had found a power that both men and women could wield. They were mistaken. What followed was a general decline of civilization over the course of several hundred years, followed by the War of Power. In the end, the Dragon, with the help of the Hundred Companions, sealed the Dark One and the Forsaken in his prison at Shayol Ghul, and the Dark One's final counterattack tainted sai'din itself, driving all male Aes Sedai mad. The taint spread, not only within the world of the Wheel, but across all the various planes of existence. The women could not control them, and the men rampaged across the known world, boiling oceans, raising mountains where there were none, killing countless innocents. This was the Breaking of the World. While some of the men managed to find refuge in Ogier stedding (where they could not touch the Power, and therefore would not go mad), after a time they left the stedding hoping that the taint on sai'din had disappeared. It had not, and they went insane, prolonging the breaking of the world but, as some think, ensuring that it was not as disastrous as it would have been if all of the men had gone insane at once.
It was in during this time of chaos that a sliver of the Dark One became trapped within Andurin. As Fate is a principal mover on Andurin, so too did the Dark One's counterpart in the form of the Aes Sedai enter Andurin as well.
The female Aes Sedai organized themselves on an island far to the east of the green elven kingdom of Lalvensalenil, near the vast wood of the same name. They built a city on that island which they called "Nith'Tar Valon" (New Tar'Valon), and built the White Tower. Their policies have since changed. The Aes Sedai, though still 'servants of all,' keep their own agenda. Though they still provide aid to any who ask, it is said that any gift from an Aes Sedai has a price, and often it is one you will not realise until it is too late. The Amyrlin Seat, who governs the Aes Sedai, became as powerful as any king, queen or legislative body. The Aes Sedai also ensured that any man with the ability to channel would be severed ("gentled") from the One Power. While the Aes Sedai overcame great crises such as the Invoked Devastation, the War of the Burning Plains, the War of the Aire, and many corrupt Amyrlins, an event in 3025 broke the Tower's unity. Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, an ambitious sister of the Red Ajah, overthrew Siuan Sanche, the ruling Amyrlin and formerly of the Blue Ajah, and assumed the Amyrlin Seat herself; in response, the Aes Sedai split into armed camps, one in support of Elaida and one in rebellion. There has always been strife between Reds and Blues, and now the rift seems too great to be healed: there are no Blues at the White Tower supporting Elaida, and no Reds with the rebels. The other Ajahs are equally split between three groups: one with the rebels, one with Elaida, and one waiting to see what will happen and which side will win. The rebels made their home base in Pelham (the birthplace of one of the Blues' most celebrated Amyrlins) and temporarily gathered strength there; they have since moved to Nith'Tar Valon to attempt to retake it and depose Elaida.
Aes Sedai divide themselves into seven Ajahs. Originally, the Ajahs were distinct sects of Aes Sedai that formed after the Breaking, each separate from the others, but later merged together to form the current Sisterhood. Currently, an Ajah is a sub-society which has representation on the administrative councils for the entire Sisterhood; its own ideology and purpose for its members; its own ruling head or heads; and its own spy network. The Ajahs are (from largest to smallest) Red, Green, Grey, Brown, Yellow, Blue, and White. There is also an eighth Ajah, the Black, though its existence of is hotly denied by all other Ajahs, and, in fact, was only recently confirmed to exist beyond any doubt. Black sisters keep their allegiance a secret and belong to another Ajah in addition to the Black in order to make it difficult to determine if any particular sister is of the Black.
The Red Ajah
The Red Ajah is the largest Ajah. They have, for millennia, been seeking out men who can channel and gentling them. They do this mostly by detecting the residue of weaves made from sai'din. As part of their ideology they despise men, and even refuse to bond Warders. Red sisters generally do not have friends outside of their Ajah. Reds are rarely raised to be Amyrlin; only two known Amyrlins have ever been dethroned, and they were both Red. The last Red to be raised to the Stole was Marae, whose attempt at controlling Devosh Heavensfire led to an attempted invasion of Nith'Tar Valon by the fallen paladin. She was removed and replaced with Deane Aryman, a Blue. Reds and Blues have been at odds ever since. The Ajah is governed by a leader known as Highest. Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, a Red, has recently been raised to Amyrlin, causing a divide between sisters of all Ajahs.
The Blue Ajah
The second smallest Ajah after the White, but has influence beyond what its size would predict. This is in part due to the fact that many Amyrlins over the years have been of the Blue. Blue sisters strive for causes and justice, and they also have the most extensive eyes-and-ears network of any ajah. They are closely allied with the Green, a friendship that has lasted a thousand years, and are on good terms with the Brown as well. The Blues have a long standing feud with the Red Ajah. All Ajahs have traditions; some of the Blue traditions include never wearing red inside the tower, they must wear all blue the first of each month, and they must wear blue stockings when leaving Nith'Tar Valon. The Blue Ajah is governed by a leader, known as the Head Selector. When Siuan Sanche was removed, the Blues fled Elaida's wrath and organized the rebel faction of the Aes Sedai secretly at Pelham. Not one Blue remained with Elaida.
The Green Ajah
Greens call themselves "The Battle Ajah," as their primary purpose is to prepare themselves for Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, when the Dark One breaks free and must be opposed. They are also the White Tower's counter to the Dreadlords, channelers (both men and women) who have openly gone to the Shadow and sometimes lead their armies in battle. Interestingly, Dreadlords have not been openly seen in recent events, despite the rising of the Dark One's power. Greens are also willing to bond more than one Warder and are known for their love of men; in this way, the Green is almost the ideological opposite of the Red. Greens are also known to marry their Warders, most Greens who do so only have one Warder, although there are rumors that some Greens have married several of their warders. However, they do not oppose the gentling of men who can channel. They have a long history of friendship with the Blues, and generally oppose the Red, although they were siding with them in many issues before the Tower broke. While many Greens did side with the rebel Blues, many stayed with the Elaida in the Tower. The Greens are governed by a single woman known as the Captain General.
The Yellow Ajah
The Yellows dedicate themselves to the art of Healing, a Talent which not all sisters possess, but which is considered a requirement for entry into the Ajah. The best Healers are always Yellow sisters, and it is said they will try to Heal anything. Until recently it was thought that stilling could not be Healed, although a new sister, Nynaeve al'Meara, has discovered a cure, giving a new role to the Yellow Ajah. They are a smaller Ajah and have a minimal eyes-and-ears organization. Their leader is called the Head Weaver.
The Brown Ajah
The Browns dedicate themselves to knowledge and history and generally forsake the mundane world. They can be usually found in the Great Library in the White Tower (which they administer), looking for something new to study. They are the wisest concerning Tower and One Power history, although not infalliable. For the past few centuries they have been at odds with the Blue Ajah, but they are not enemies. They are not governed by a sole woman, but by a ruling council.
The White Ajah
The smallest Ajah in the Tower. The only Ajah without Eyes and Ears. They ignore the social causes that define the Blue, Grey, Green and Red Ajahs and also have no room for the worldly knowledge that the Browns and to some extent the Yellows seek. They preoccupy themselves with questions of philosophy and truth, and it is said that they have no room in their hearts for passions. It was White sisters who first made the connection between the Reds' gentling crusade and the dwindling numbers and strength of female channelers. They proposed to the Tower that male channelers should, either before or after gentling, be allowed to mate with Aes Sedai. The Hall of the Tower flatly refused the idea (especially after one Green Sitter joked that, since the Whites had come up with the idea, they should be the one to bear the children). Whites are friendly with Blues, and generally oppose Reds; however, when Elaida became Amyrlin, it was a White, Alviarin, who became her Keeper of the Chronicles. The Head of the White Ajah is called the First Reasoner.
The Gray Ajah
The diplomats of the White Tower are Grays: they are ambassadors, conflict mediators, and treaty drafters. They also provide justice through the law, whether it is in a palace or on a farm. Little else is known about them, although their leader is called the Head Clerk. Worth mentioning is the Grays tried to hold together the coalition of nations that fought against the Kernin during the Kernin invasion in the year 3000. Though it has not been confirmed, it is logical to assume that Grays are skilled at political maneuvering. Rhian is a member of this Ajah.
The Black Ajah
The Black Ajah is an unofficial and secret Ajah, comprised of sisters which hide in other Ajahs and who have forsaken their Oaths as Aes Sedai and have sworn to serve the Dark One. Until recently Aes Sedai denied fervently the existence of the Black. The Black Ajah is administered by a Great Council of Thirteen. Reports of its existence were only recently accepted by other sisters, and not even by all sisters, when a coven fled the Tower stealing several ter'angreal and killing a number of Tower personnel. There is a rumor that the Ajah is currently controlled by a sister, who is living in the White Tower in disguise and gives orders in secret. Black sisters are not bound by the Three Oaths, having forsworn them at some point after becoming Aes Sedai, and swear three currently unknown oaths in service of the Shadow.
Black sisters are organized into units called "hearts," each of which consists of a group of three women who all know each other as members of the Black, and who each know one sister in another heart. Only those very high in the Council know of many sisters beyond their own heart, and it may be that only the leader of the Great Council knows all of them.
Achieving the Shawl
To become Aes Sedai is a long process. Girls with the spark or who can learn to channel are taken to the Tower at a young age, usually in their teens. They start out as novices, and wear a white dress. They attend classes taught by sisters and Accepted concerning the One Power. They have hardly any time for themselves, because when they are not training they are usually doing chores. They live a meager existence, with their dorms a small room with hardly any material possessions. They are governed by the Mistress of Novices, who is appointed by the Amyrlin. When Aes Sedai feel that a novice has proven herself worthy and respectful, she is summoned to a ceremony which will raise her to Accepted. She has the right to refuse the ceremony twice, but on the third time if she refuses she will be put out of the Tower. The ceremony consists of the novice walking naked through three archways, and once she starts she cannot stop, or she will be put out of the Tower. The Archways are a ter'angreal. When the novice walks through the first, she is faced with a fear from her past. She is usually bewildered and does not know how she got there, remembering nothing. When she comes out, she walks through the second archway, where she is presented with a fear from the present. The third archway is for a fear that is to come. No one knows if the fears come true, or if the world they are transported to is real. Though it is uncertain if the world they are transported to is real, novices have returned bearing real injuries they suffered within the arches. It has been suggested that the world they are transported to is a form of Tel'aran'rhiod, the World of Dreams. When they are in these dimensions, novices do not remember anything from their lives, including their ability to channel, and so do not always remember that the way out will only come once; this is the challenge of the ter'angreal, and some women never come back. There is also a compelling reason to stay, such as a husband to love or a friend to protect. If they channel while within the arches, the novice may burn herself out and permanently lose the ability to channel. Novices are also not allowed to speak of what they saw or did in the archways. Most remain novices for five to ten years, though three years is not unheard of.
Once Accepted, the women have more privileges and are not usually forced to do chores. They can also wear the Aes Sedai serpent ring, but only on their ring finger. They train harder and also teach courses to novices. They spend several years more as Accepted, although when they are deemed ready to become full Aes Sedai they are summoned for another testing ceremony. The Accepted is brought to a chamber where sisters cause a ter'angreal to activate. The Accepted steps in. In this world, the Accepted seeks out a symbol on the ground one hundred times and weaves a hundred very complex weaves while retaining perfect composure. The sisters simulate distractions to try to throw her off. Again, the world may or may not be real, but the dangers leave real wounds.
The Oath Rod
When an Accepted passes the test, she is brought to another ceremony with the Amyrlin and representatives of every Ajah present (obviously the Black is not summoned). The Oath Rod, a ter'angreal that binds Aes Sedai to whatever oath they swear on it while channeling into it, is given to them. The Accepted then swears the Three Oaths. The Oaths were not always a part of the Aes Sedai tradition, and some sisters wish it still wasn't. The Rod was discovered sometime between the War of the Burning Plains and the War of the Aire. While sisters are bound to their Ajahs, they needed a common set of goals and principles to bind sisters of every Ajah together. The Accepted swears to never speak a lie, never make a weapon for a man to kill another with, and never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, unless her life is in danger, or her Warder's, or the life of another sister. Sisters cannot break these oaths, though they can be circumvented (for instance, an Aes Sedai may deliberately put herself in danger to remove the constraint on using the Power as a weapon; likewise, she can make a statement that is misleading but technically true). Once they have sworn the oaths, the Accepted is now an Aes Sedai and chooses her Ajah.
The Hall of the Tower
The Hall of the Tower is the administrative body of the Aes Sedai and White Tower. It is comprised of 21 Sitters, who act like senators, three from each Ajah. There is also an Amyrlin Seat and the Keeper of the Chronicles. The Hall creates all official policy for Nith'Tar Valon.
The Amyrlin Seat
The Amyrlin Seat, or simply the Amyrlin, is possibly the most powerful woman on the continent. She is appointed for life by the Hall, and sheds any affiliation she has to her Ajah. The Amyrlin is from no Ajah, and from all. She wears a stole with all seven Ajah colors, although Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan removed the blue from hers upon becoming Amyrlin. She is the head of all Aes Sedai, they refer to her as Mother and she to them as Children ("Daughters"). She is assisted in her duties by the Keeper of the Chronicles, who is second in command, and is usually from the same Ajah as the Amyrlin. Her full title is 'The Watcher of the Seals, The Flame of Nith'Tar Valon, The Amyrlin Seat' (in reference to the seven seals used to shut the Dark One's prison, though until quite recently, no-one knew where any of the seals were). The actual chair the Amyrlin rules over the Hall from is also called the Amyrlin Seat. The Amyrlin's relative power depends on her political power and ability; some Amyrlins have been able to bend the Hall to their will, while others have found themselves subject to it. Although the Amyrlin is bound by Tower law and custom, any proclamations she makes are usually considered (depending on how powerful the Amyrlin is) effectively law or as good as it.
The Keeper of the Chronicles
The Amyrlin's second-in-command, the Keeper's duties include being secretary to the Amyrlin and overseeing the official bussiness of the Tower. What is known is that the Amyrlin chooses her and that she, too, is appointed for life (either hers or the Amyrlin's, whomever passes away first). Traditionally, the Keeper comes from the same Ajah as the Amyrlin, but there have been exceptions. Recently, both Elaida a'Roihan (of the Tower) and Egwene al'Vere (of the Pelham rebels) have chosen Keepers from Ajahs other than their own. Unlike the Amyrlin, the Keeper does not shed her Ajah affiliation. Siuan Sanche's Keeper was Leane Sharif (both of the Blue); Elaida's is Alviarin Freidhein (of the White), and Egwene's is Sheriam Bayanar, Siuan's former Mistress of Novices (of the Blue). The Keeper wears a stole in the color of the Ajah she was raised from.
Sitters are highly esteemed sisters who have been chosen within their Ajah to represent their Ajah and its interests in the Hall of the Tower. Typically, the leader or head of the Ajah is not a Sitter. The Sitters often jealously defend the Hall's power, and an Amyrlin's reign is often judged by how well she manages to keep the Sitters under her control.