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A Path Not Taken


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Doubts were tricky. They could disappear as easily as they could appear. One instant there and on the other, gone. They were a burden. To everyone and anyone. A constant that seemed to recently take a hold of Nynaeve's life. Thoughts of what was. Thoughts of what would have become of her if she never found her way to the White Tower. Abandonment, at that point, was of course not an option, but one couldn't help but wonder.


She had Damian. And her son. The son of a servant to all. Unimportant. Insignificant. He was safer that way. Protected from any danger. Life could have been so different for him if Nynaeve was not an Aes Sedai. She could have given him the life she's been yearning to give him. To be able to acknowledge him as her own. To leave all her cares behind. To form a family with Damien and Donovan. To retire to a country house. If she could erase the day she decided to make her way to Tar Valon, she might have considered it. 


Was she selfish? She could have given Donovan up, instead of having him raised in the WT by a servant. She could have sent him somewhere where he could have lived in better conditions. A place where he could receive the education he deserved. But her need to have him close by weighed in on it. She could hardly resist hearing her boy call another mother. But she certainly couldn't handle him being too far away.


Nynaeve took off her slippers and slipped under the covers. The warmth of the blankets brought no comfort to her racing mind. She always considered her performance in the Yellow Ajah to be her calling. But the calling seemed to weaver. It felt like a house of cards on the verge of collapsing. The slightest gust of wind would bring it down. Nynaeve feared it, knowing she won't be able to recover from such a fall.


Giving her mind free rein, she faded to the back of her head until sleep finally took over.




Nynaeve found herself outside of the Tower at dawn. Riding hard, she wasn't exactly sure where she was heading. But she went onward. galloping. On and on...




Pulling on the reins a bit roughly, Nynaeve's mare came to a full stop. She just rode through a small village, when she found herself obligated to halt. She couldn't breath. She couldn't move. She stepped out of her body in that moment.


What is silence, if not the absence of sound.

What is darkness, if not the absence of light.

What is hate, if not the absence of love.

What is death, if not the absence of life.


It was silent. Darkness all around. It was a place hate came to life and then buried in the earth to grow and flourish. Surrounded by death. Eyes staring, faces blank. There were no smiles that day. No innocent laughter. No colorful birds in the big blue sky.


The absence was overwhelming. It was hard to look away, simply by the realization of what should be there, as opposed to what was. Where anyone would see destruction, chaos and blood, Nynaeve saw the absence of morals, of compassion, of a scrap of humanity. A proof that what was in front of her wasn't done by vile monsters lurking in the night. Though they might as well be just that.


It started raining. The sky weeping for what it had to witness. Weeping for the dead, weeping for the blood soaked earth. Grieving. But there was no peace to be had. Not then. Not ever. There was nothing that could be done to make amends. No survivors, no living souls, no one that could speak of the horrors done.


Nynaeve wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. She'd seen death before and likely would again in the future, but nothing like what was in front of her. Covering her nose with her sleeve, she dismounted and walked forward, looking for any drop of life, yet keeping quiet so as not to disturb the dead.






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Nynaeve knelt down, unaware of her yellow dress getting stained with fresh mud and blood. There had to be something she could do. If she could find a heart that stopped recently, she could jump start it. She refused to just walk away. She was brought there for a reason. And it certainly wasn't to just keep riding passed the emotionally devastating display. The creator wouldn't place a woman of her skills in a battle field if he didn't intend for her to help. She was decided. She'd go through all the bodies, seeking for survivors through delving.


The first body Nynaeve approached was face down. She turned it around slowly with some air weaves and knelt down next to it. It was an old man, his body already well within the stiffness stage. He was obviously too far gone, but Nynaeve decided to delve him. No heart beat. Staring at his face, Nynaeve couldn't help but sense some sort of familiarity in him. She had no idea who he was or what his name was, but faces had a way of staying with her. After a long pause, Nynaeve released the man's head. She brushed her hand, closing his deep blue eyes, and sighed.


She moved on to a little girl who was laying approximately close to him. But something wasn't right. Her clothing suggested a wealthy family. One that certainly would not reside in a little village. It was possible, however, that they were riding through when chaos broke loose. But looking around, Nynaeve couldn't spot anyone that was dressed well enough to be considered a kin of hers. Resting her hands on the girl's head, Nynaeve delved her. No beating. No pulse. No life. It felt like delving a still object. Nynaeve brushed a strand of hair behind the girl's ear and looked at her. She died alone. No one should die alone, yet in a way, everyone did in the end.


Scanning the girl's face, Nynaeve pasued, wrinkling her brow. A name popped into her head. Kataline. A young noble girl that Nynaeve healed after she fell off her horse and broke her back. A silly bet with the local children. One that would have brought to her death if it wasn't for Nynaeve's presence in that part of Tar Valon. Her usual visit to a herb store. Without an immediate healing, the youth wouldn't have survived. Nynaeve recalled that specific healing for the effort it took her to mend her. It was unfortunate to see that the girl's luck hasn't improved. It was such a shame to lose one's life at such a young age.


Moving on to the next body, Nynaeve suddenly noticed a white dress from the corner of her eye. Usually it would be the last thing she'd notice, but such a clean color stood out in the middle of the filth that seemed to engulf everything. Nynaeve's eyebrows rose. It wasn't just a white dress. The hems were colored. Brown. Blue. Yellow. Grey. White. Red. Green. Nynaeve stood up and raced to the body. Turning it over, she gasped. Dead eyes. Stiff body. Slashed wrists.


Staring, she couldn't believe it. Everything was spinning. What in the light's name...






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Nynaeve blinked for the first time in what seemed an eternity. What she was seeing was all too familiar. Years ago, she found herself saving the life of an Accepted that decided to attemp against her own life. When Nynaeve accidently found her in her bedrom, she was losing blood rapidly. Risking her demise by the procedure, Nynaeve took action and healed her. She was still amazed to that day that Sirayn managed to recover from the ordeal.


And yet there she was. In the very same position Nynaeve found her. The very same self infliction. Only this time, Nynaeve wasn't there in time to stop her. Mind racing, Nynaeve looked away from Sirayn's body. Nothing made sense anymore. Did Sirayn try to kill herself again? Possible. But the Accepted uniform was unexplainable. Sirayn was raised to Aes Sedai long ago. Everything was so askew.


A doubt sprouted in Nynaeve's head. It seemed a ridiculous notion, but she had to verify it. She walked back to Kataline's body. She turned her face down hesitantly and took a deep breath before pulling up her blouse. Her back was heavily decorated with bruises. Sickening colors that seemed to be painful just by looking at them. Tracing her hands over her spine, she jerked away. Broken in three places. The very same injury Nynaeve healed back then. Yet there she was. Artificial. Seemingly untouched by the years that passed. So very still.


Realization started to take over, yet the thought of it was maddness. Nynaeve started to move farantically from one body to the other, trying to verify the impossible. She found so many. Anne, a woman that almost perished after giving birth from loss of blood. Paiter and Miko, twins that were trapped in a fire and hardly made it out alive. Gratchen, a young woman who fell off a roof while trying to fix the tiles. Ramada. Dunbar. Clarai. Ethanel. Lynderine. Genia. Tatyana. Simon. The names echoed in her mind violently, marking every dead expression she encountered. Mangled bodies. Burned flesh. Discoloration. It was too much to bear.


Getting dizzy, Nynaeve's knees gave in and she found herself on the ground, dazed. She felt stuck in a trance, unwilling to believe what was happening around her. Everyone was dead. Everyone she ever healed. Every life she fought for. All her deeds were undone. Earased from space and time. So many dead. So much guilt.


Nynaeve wept. Weeped for the dead who were robbed of tears. Who were robbed of so much. She felt so useless. Her whole life suddenly seemed like it never took place. Just a figment of her imagination. What could be done? Her purpose was taken away. There was no point to anything anymore. Certainly not for her existance. She didn't deserve life after failing so many. After touching so many lives, only to discover that her touch was a lie.


Nynaeve got up clumsily, her legs still shaky. She found a sword plunged into the stomach of a Towar Guard she once healed from a Darkfriend attack. She could not recall his name. She didn't deserve to.


Grabbing the hilt of the sword, Nynaeve pulled it out, trying to ignore the sickening sound and calm down her shivers. She pressed the blade against her throat, ready to make the final cut.





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Closing her eyes, Nynaeve felt ready. Or at least, as ready as one could be. Pressing the blade closer to her pale neck, she could feel the surface of her skin starting to give in to the pressure she was applying. A few drops of blood trickled down her neck majestically. From ash she came and to ash she will return. Be strong. "May I be given shelter in the palm of the creator's hand. If he deems it so." It's time.


"Mommy!". Nynaeve's eyes shot open. A child was running towards her. He stopped in front of her, smiling. "What are you doing, mommy?". Nynaeve looked at him. Really looked at him. Her eyebrows rose as realization took over. "... Donovan?". He nodded enthusiastically. But he looked so different. He didn't have Damian's eyes anymore. His hair was of a different shade. "Daddy is looking for you. He needs to go fishing and he can't go till you come home to take care of River." Nynaeve started feeling dizzy. She let the sword drop out of her hold. No sound was heard when it hit the ground.


She had a family. A normal life without a care. Without any worries. A simple country house. An opportunity to take care of her children. The notion of it was joyful. It was everything she'd ever wanted. What she always dreamed off. But at what cost. How many people had to give up their life for her to have her happily ever after. Anything came with a price tag. It was just down to deciding whether the rate was too high.


Donovan seemed to be unaware of the bodies around them. Oh, but he was so beautiful. Hearing him calling her mother filled her eyes with tears. She had come to terms with it never happening if she wished to keep him secure. But hearing it. Really hearing it, instead of her imagining it, was so joyful and yet so hard. But her happiness claimed too much. Not only the lives lost, but also Damian. She never would have met him had she not became an Aes Sedai. Had she never went to the White Tower to be tested. The sadness was overwhelming.


"You coming, mommy?". Nynaeve smiled down at her son. It was a sad smile. A mix of affection and resolution. "No, love. Your mommy is going to go make your proud." Turning around, Nynaeve started to walk away, putting all her effort into not looking back. She knew that the smallest glimpse would possibly make her slip. Donovan's voice echoed through the village. "Please don't leave me, mommy!". Nynaeve kept walking. Never.




Nynaeve's eyes fluttered, before she opened them slowly. Damian stirred under the covers. "Are you okay, honey? You were making weird sounds." Damian laughed softly. Nynaeve smiled faintly. "Never better. Go back to sleep, love." Damian wrapped his arms around her and fell back to sleep instantly. It was just a dream. Moving her head to rest it on Damian's chest, she felt a tinge of pain. Running her fingers over her neck, she could feel the cut decorating it. She shivered. Never again. No more doubts. She was going to fulfill her calling, without a falter.


As Nynaeve floated back to sleep, she recalled a poem she once read as a child. Reciting it in her head, she realized that it wasn't till then that she understood the full meaning of it.



TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, 

And sorry I could not travel both 

And be one traveler, long I stood 

And looked down one as far as I could 

To where it bent in the undergrowth;         


Then took the other, as just as fair, 

And having perhaps the better claim, 

Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 

Though as for that the passing there 

Had worn them really about the same,         


And both that morning equally lay 

In leaves no step had trodden black. 

Oh, I kept the first for another day! 

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 

I doubted if I should ever come back.         


I shall be telling this with a sigh 

Somewhere ages and ages hence: 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.



[glow=red,2,300]The End![/glow]



P.S - To whoever read this, thank you for taking the time to browse through Nynaeve's jounrey. Any comments, suggestions for improvements, ideas, or any sort of input will be greatly appriciated. Feel free to PM me :)


I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. 







*Poem Credit - Robert Frost (1874–1963).

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