Word War: The Amyrlin's Tournament

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Word War! is a new series in which Tar Valon Times Reporters are given a topic and challenged to write 300-500 words on that topic.October's topic is: The Amyrlin's Tournament. Be sure to comment on the entries you enjoy!

The Amyrlin's Tournament, by Elyss Koh'inor

Rhed al’Tere entered the large chamber and mounted a few steps to a raised podium. An array of Novices, Accepted, Soldiers, Recruits, and even a few Aes Sedai and Gaidin filled the room before her.

“Due to an unfortunate prank, which will have Satrim scrubbing greasy pots for the rest of the month, I no longer have a striped stole.”

The Amyrlin glared at the group of Junior Members who giggled at the mention of this latest antic.

“It has been a task to decide what to do about a replacement, but under the wise council of the Hall, I have decided to announce ... a crafting tournament!”

Some of the people gathered in the room below frowned in confusion, but the Amyrlin continued. “Those who wish to compete need only create a new seven-striped stole by the end of this month. Novices and Recruits, Soldiers and Accepted, Aes Sedai and Gaidin, may decide to provide individual or group projects. All submissions will be judged and one will become the new symbol of this office. Any questions may be directed to the Mistress of Novices and Recruits or the Master of Accepted and Soldiers. The crafting tournament begins now!”

The news spread quickly, and before long the Accepted and Soldiers had set up a workshop in the Abandoned Corridor. Arie Davion led the charge, knitting day and night.

Novices and Recruits met furtively in hallways, passing diagrams back and forth.

The excitement was not limited to the Junior Members. Kelgan al’Moranwin, Nandi el’Shahir, and Tyla al’Mere were all seen purchasing yarn in the colors of the seven Ajahs. Others worked hard to keep their projects hidden from the eyes of their competitors.

Finally, the end of the month came. The submissions were arranged for the Hall to observe, ready to place the finalists in front of the Amyrlin.

The crowd entered the chamber, a hushed excitement around them. The Amyrlin walked forward, ready to examine the finest submissions.

The first stole was of shimmering silks, glittering and shining in the light with rich jewel tones. Mother picked it up and put it around her shoulders. The ends pooled around her skirts, several feet too long.

The second submission was of fine knitting, the wool crafted into lacey patterns that looked like the Flame of Tar Valon. But when the Amyrlin put this one around her shoulders it barely came to her elbows.

The Amyrlin paused over a submission that looked like it had been chewed up and then extensively patched. It smelled strongly of ferrets. “Just because I was scrubbing pots most of this bloody month doesn’t mean I didn’t have time to restore your beautiful stole to prime condition, Mother!” Satrim yelled from the middle of the crowd. Everyone, included the serene Amyrlin, exploded into laughter.

The Amyrlin's Tournament, by Kyla Sterling

The Amyrlin’s Tournament. The call to glory and honor that will echo in the Tower’s history for generations to come… And I was there for the first one.

Sort of.

Anni 2004 saw a precursor to the Amyrlin’s Tournament called “The Great Gleeman Competition.” Teams registered in advance (or, as in my case, people were recruited at the party) to participate in a number of silly competitions, culminating in a final battle on the last day of the party. The winners received a prize of some kind, as well as immortalization of their victory in the Tower Library, and indeed in the memories of all who were there.

It began with a wet sponge relay – a bucket of water at one end of a line, and an empty pail at the other. The object was simple: pass the sponges back and forth until your pail was full. There was a catch, of course. There always is. In this particular case, the catch was that you had to pass the sponge the opposite way from how you got it (meaning that if the person in front of you handed it to you between their legs, you had to pass it to the person behind you over your head). The added challenge meant, of course, that everybody ended up completely drenched by the end of the event (in an ominous bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the weekend!).

The top five teams continued to the next round for some truly baffling trivia questions, and the top three teams were then given 24 hours to complete an assignment: compose a song. This was a Gleeman competition, after all, so we prepared to be entertained the following evening. Assignments came from a hat, and each team drew the name of a Randland nation, a style of song, and their song’s title.

The next evening saw many wet, bedraggled Tower members huddled in the shed for the grand finale. Musical instruments were improvised, tears were shed, and the winning team had the whole crowd singing along by the time they finished – and thus earned their “Gleeman” titles fair and square.

Many events have been added and subtracted over the years – and of course, the name of the tournament has changed – but the spirit of fun and friendly competition remains. I have a lot of great memories from my time at the site, but being a Novice at my very first Tower party and lobbing a soaking wet sponge at Vivianna Sedai (and NOT getting in trouble for it!) is a pretty special one.

What’s your best memory of the Amyrlin’s Tournament (or any of its precursors)?

Read more about the 2004 Anniversary Party here: Anniversary Party 2004