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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Deanne's Arches.


Kara_J
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Oh Light! Not now of all times! Deanne thought wretchedly to herself as she walked behind the Mistress of Novices towards the room containing the Arches.

She'd woken up that morning feeling queasy and had only just managed to grab the night bowl before her stomach chose to relinquish everything she'd ever eaten and,  by the feel of it, what she was ever going to eat. She had been lying there debating whether it would be safe to move and go to the infirmary when a knock had come at the door, revealing the Mistress of Novices in all her finery, intoning the words Deanne knew off by heart but had never thought she'd hear. Miserably she thought it was just her bad luck that she had managed to catch something on the same day that she was suddenly summoned to the Arches.

She couldn't refuse now, not after how long it had taken her to get to this point already. Elgee and Kiyisalle had long been made Accepted and, truth be told, she missed their company more than she thought she would. Light knows whether they missed her. She hadn't seen either of them much since their belongings had been moved to the Accepted's quarters.

Suppressing a small sigh and another urge to sick up, Deanne prayed to the Creator she would get through this and followed the Mistress of Novices into the room. Deanne barely had time to notice the Aes Sedai sitting at each point where the Arches touched a silver ring on the floor before the Mistress of Novices started her speech.

 

“There are two things that no woman hears until she enters this room. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, no matter your potential and you will be very kindly put out of the Tower with enough silver to support you a year, and you will never be allowed back. Second. To seek, to strive, is to know danger. You will know danger here. Some women have entered, and never come out. When the ter'angreal was allowed to grow quiet, they - were - not - there. And they were never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. Faltering leads to a failure.”

“This is your last chance, child. You may turn back now, and you will have only mark against you. Twice more will you be allowed to come here, and only at the third refusal will you be put out of the Tower. It is no shame to refuse. Many cannot do it their first time here. Now you may speak.”

 

Light! It's really happening! Speak girl, before they kick you out here and now! Deanne berated herself and, praying she wasn't going to be sick again in here of all places, tried to make her voice sound calm and authoritative.

“I stand ready”

 

A Sister, standing beside a  table bearing three silver chalices, began to speak.

“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?”

The Mistress of Novices replied in a smooth and grave voice that sent a shiver through Deanne's spine “One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.”

“Is she ready?”

“She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.”

“Does she know her fears?”

“She has never faced them, but now is willing.”

“Then let her face what she fears.”

 

Larindhra Sedai then turned and asked Deanne to undress. Fingers shaking slightly, Deanne complied, for once folding her clothes neatly in a pile. Then the Mistress of Novices guided Deanne to the first Arch, the entrance glowing with a soft silvery blue light.  “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.”

Taking a deep breath and trying to quell the lurches in her stomach, Deanne stepped forward into the Light.

 

***************

 

Deanne stared at her reflection and adjusted the clip holding her curls in place once again until she was finally satisfied. Today she had to help at her father's shop again. She was already a candle mark late but that didn't matter, her father never minded, well at least not for long.

Smoothing her skirts she left her room and walked to the shop taking her customary place, where she could see who came through the door and have the best chance of attracting any handsome young men. The time passed fairly quickly and she was filing her nails, managing to ignore the insistent voice of an old bat that had come in, when the door chimed and the most gorgeous, finely dressed man that Deanne had ever seen came in.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

 

At once Deanne was at full alert, she put on her best smile and came around the counter. “Is there anything I can help you with, Sir?” she asked. His returning smile dazzled her.

“I hope you can.” He replied and took her arm in a friendly manner. “I'm visiting my father, he's a Councillor to the King and I was hoping to find something here with which I can surprise him.”

Deanne felt like fainting! Here was a young, gorgeous man with well-to-do connections in her shop. It was more than she could believe! She busied herself asking questions and and suggesting items whilst artfully placing herself in the best possible light.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Shortly the young man found something he liked and paid her. This was what she'd been waiting her whole life for. If she played her cards right then this man could set her up for life!

Coyly she suggested he buy a present for his beloved, picking out a beautiful necklace her father had only just purchased for the shop. Her face fell when he smiled broadly, admired it and paid for it promptly, not even haggling the price. But the downcast expression on Deanne's face soon changed when the gentleman gave her the bag containing the necklace and, with a flourish, invited her out for the afternoon to “show me around this fair city”. Clapping her hands together with excitement she readily agreed and, grabbing her coat, she blew her parents a kiss and linked her arm with his. “How about now?” she asked with her most winning smile. He laughed and agreed.

Bursting with pleasure Deanne was just to go out the front door with him, already picturing the looks on the faces of the other girls of her age, when she spotted a shimmering Arch in one corner.

Not now!

She hesitated and watched the friendly expression on the young man change to puzzlement. Sighing with frustration she threw herself at the Arch, stumbling through with a wail.

 

***************

 

Deanne gasped as what felt like a torrent of icy cold water drenched her. The Sister that had been standing by the table was now standing next to her, pouring the contents of one of the chalices over her.

She spoke whilst doing so, saying “ You are washed clean of what sin you may have done and of those done against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may have committed, and of those committed against you. You come to us washed clean and pure, in heart and soul.”

As soon as Deanne has returned to the room her belly had begun it's churning once more and she had to swallow hard several times to try and prevent herself from embarrassing herself. Gently, and vaguely Deanne thought how strange that was, Larindhra Sedai guided her to the second Arch.

“The second arch is for what is. The way will come but once. Be steadfast.”

Taking a deep breath, Deanne walked into the glimmering light.

***************

 

Deanne gasped as pain racked through her body, she glanced up and saw Larindhra hovering close by with a Sister from the Yellow Ajah. Both looked like they could curdle milk at 50 paces. Not that Deanne could think on that very long.

“It's coming!” She heard herself scream and the Yellow Sister hurried to her side, she felt the shiver that meant she had been Delved. The Yellow Sister nodded and gave some sharp orders. Deanne hurt too much to care.

She screamed and felt an overwhelming urge to push followed by another and another. Soon, though not soon enough for Deanne's tastes, she heard a cry of a baby and both the Sisters present seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

In short order the baby was washed and Delved and placed in Deanne's arms. She looked down in wonder at the wrinkled tiny face. My baby!

Rising awkwardly she placed her little girl in the cradle next to her bed and watched her sleep. Deanne felt strangely content. This little life depended on her. She'd never have thought that the day would come when she would have someone depending on her...and she liked, no, loved the feeling. In her mind's eye she was already planning this girls future. She'd leave the Tower and go to her parents, they'd love a grandchild. She'd be spoiled rotten. Deanne never for a minute thought that the Tower may have something to say about an Accepted with a child.

A name, she must think of a name for her. She smiled at the sleeping new-born and stroked the soft downy hair. Her daughter was the most wonderful thing in the world, the prettiest too. Leaning down into the cot, Deanne placed a kiss on her baby's forehead and whispered “I'll be the best mother I can for you, I promise. We'll go far, you and I. ”

 

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

 

She looked up at the alien sounds, unsure whether she'd heard it in her head or whether someone had said it, and saw the Arch hovering in the corner of the infirmary. She couldn't stop the wail of despair that issued from her lips. “Not now! Please not now! I can't leave her!” The two Sisters turned sharply at Deanne's shout and started towards her, concern etched on their ageless faces. But, with a heavy sigh, Deanne knew what she had to do. Bending over and kissing her new daughter on the cheek, she turned her back and walked towards the Arch with her chin held high, her daughter's cries following her as she walked and tears streaming down her face.

 

***************

 

Deanne stumbled out of the Arch mumbling how she'd left her daughter, her baby.

 

Again the Sister poured cold water from the chalice over Deanne and spoke. “You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul.”

 

Gasping under the cold water, that strangely helped the nausea pass for a little while, Deanne started to sob. “Oh Light! What happens next?” Larindhra helped Deanne to her feet and led her to the next Arch.

“Are you ready for the next Arch, child?”

Gulping back the sobs, Deanne nodded mutely.  “Very well. The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.”

Drawing in a sharp breath, Deanne stepped into the Arch.

***************

 

Deanne found herself in her study looking at an immense pile of paperwork. She sighed and picked up the first file, muttering about the penance. Looking through the amount of cross-checking and editing she'd have to do to make before this file even began to meet the demands the Ajah Head made, Deanne resolved never to lose her temper at the Head again. Well, not within earshot anyway. She was just so sick of being looked down upon by most of the Aes Sedai in the Green Ajah. She'd been Aes Sedai for years now and felt she deserved a little more respect!

Deanne looked down at the serpent ring on her finger and scowled. Short of taking on the Dark One himself, she didn't know what else she could do to earn more respect. A short rap on the door brought Deanne out of her reverie. “Enter!” she snapped before she could help herself. The door opened and Jac looked in. Seeing the piles of paperwork he grinned and entered the room. “So this is what has you all het up? I nearly brained a Trainee during a spar when your irritation came through the bond!” He grinned again. “I have someone here to see you. He'd been asking for permission to meet with you but was apparently turned down by an uppity Accepted. Esther intervened though and came to find me to take him to you.”

“Not now, Jac. I'm really busy.” Deanne said, gesturing at the large pile of paperwork. She then identified the underlying feeling she was getting through the bond, it was tension. Jac was feeling tense about something, despite his cheerful grin and teasing. A feeling that was enhanced when the smile disappeared from Jac's face and he went on, “No Deanne, you need to see him now.”

Casting him a worried look, she rose and indicated he should bring in the person waiting.

“Hello Deanne, er, Deanne Sedai.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked sharply, recognising the man instantly as the father of her child walked into the room and stood next to Jac. “What is it?” She asked, getting more worried at the expression on both Jac's and the man's face.

“It's your daughter, she's sick. The Healer's can't help her, they've tried everything! She's too sick to move now, so I thought I'd come to ask, beg if needs be, for your help. Please, she's your daughter! You must be able to do something!”

It didn't take a moment for Deanne to choose. Burn the penance, her family came first! Briskly she gave orders to Jac to get her horse ready and prepare for swift travel.

 

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

 

She assured her child's father that she would do her best to help her daughter. He almost cried in relief. Deanne grasped his hand fondly and was just about to go into her bedroom and pack when she noticed the doorway was now a shimmering arch.

“What's wrong?” Jac asked sharply as she faltered mid-stride. “From what he's said, time is of the essence, you can't hesitate now. She's your daughter!”

Tearfully, Deanne turned to them both and apologised. “I can't. I'm so very sorry.” Without a backwards glance she headed into the light. The despairing wail of her child's father and Jac's concern following her with every step.

***************

 

Deanne stumbled out into the cool air of the chamber, too tired and numb to cry. She blinked as she realised the Amyrlin Seat was now in the chamber along with several more Aes Sedai, one from each Ajah flanking her to either side. Shivering and still nauseous, Deanne walked towards Mother and knelt clumsily.

The Amyrlin Seat poured the last chalice of cold water over Deanne's head and spoke in that regal tone Deanne so often admired. “You are washed clean of Deanne Heillan of Shol Arbela . You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean in heart and soul. You are Deanne Heillan, Accepted of the White Tower.” She paused, the chamber totally silent, Deanne was convinced they could all hear her heartbeat.

“You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter,” the Amyrlin Seat continued. She then handed the chalice to one of the other Aes Sedai and produced a Great Serpent ring. She slipped it onto Deanne's shaking finger and then pulled her to her feet. “Welcome, Daughter”, she said kissing one cheek then the other. “Welcome.”

 

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