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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Wilemi's Arches: Heart, Mind and Soul.


Arani Lepenque Aes Sedai
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Wilemi Kailadel sat in her, room, wrestling with her thoughts of home, about which Larindha Sedai had spoken to her yet again not so long ago.  But suddenly, the door opened gently.  The Mistress of Novices stood there, her face compassionate yet stern as the formal words rolled softly from her lips.

 

"Wilemi Kailadel, you are summoned to take your test for Acceptance.  You must follow me with haste, and speak to no one in passing."

 

Wilemi stared at Larindha.  So soon?  She had been in the Tower for only 4 years now.  That would mean that she would have taken a very short time to earn so much approval from the Mistress of Novices.  What did Larindha see in her that would make her sure that she was ready for the test now?  Yes, her channelling skills were fairly advanced as Novices went, and her intelligence was quite a bit greater than even some of the flutter-brained Accepted that floated around the Tower.

 

However, she was just not ready.  Her ability was, her intelligence deemed her so, but her mind was not.  She had heard of Accepted who had run off, driven to madness by the things that they had witness in the Ter’Angreal.  Wilemi knew, deep down in her heart, that she was not ready.  Not for this.

 

But as the Mistress of Novices turned, Wilemi regained her wits and rushed down the corridor after her, nervous and afraid of what was yet to come.

 

They went down to the lower levels of the White Tower, and Wilemi suddenly noticed that the Tower basement, despite being so deep, was not covered in dust.  Apparently, even the deepest cells were sweeped in the Tower, though it was doubtful that any but the initiates of the Tower knew what the passages were for.

 

Then, they reached the room.

 

Wilemi stared in awe around the room.  There were four sisters present, but her mind dismissed them automatically as her eyes centered on the giant Ter’Angreal.  Centered in the room, the object of the Power appeared to be three metal arches, placed equidistant in a circle, and tilting inwards so that the tops of them touched.  So fascinated she was by it that Wilemi barely heard Larindha

 

"I will now tell you two things that no woman hears until she enters this room. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, and no matter your potential, you will be very kindly put out of the Tower with enough silver to support you a year. 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."

 

Drawing a deep breath, the woman continued her speech.  Wilemi's hands clenched on her skirts as she listened, her heart thumping rapidly

 

"This is your last chance, child. You may turn back now, and you will have only one 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."

 

Wilemi's mouth dried up.  It was time to make her choice.  She stood, and stared at the Ter’Angreal.  When the Ter’Angreal grew quiet, they were-not-there.  That phrase stood out in her mind like a bonfire.  No, she was not ready.  Her mind ached as she tried to come to a decision.  To do, or not to do, that was the question.  She gulped for air, made her final decision, then spoke, hesitantly.

 

"I … I am not yet ready, Larindha Sedai.  The day will surely come when I will take the test, but that day is not now.”  She turned to meet the Aes Sedai in the eyes, the answer rolling out of her tongue before she could stop herself.  “I swear that I will pass the test one day.  But today is not it.”

 

The Mistress of Novices nodded.  Her eyes showed comfort and compassion, for she knew that Wilemi had issues in her heart to settle, before she felt that she would be ready to confront her fears again.  She turned to the other four women present, and spoke again.

 

"She has refused the test.  Let no one speak of what transpired here today, not even amongst themselves.  Go now, under the Light."

 

With that, the four sisters made towards the heavy doors to leave, shooting measuring glances at her, which Wilemi returned, not challenging, but firm as a boulder, now immovable from her decision.

 

Larindha Sedai patted her comfortingly on the shoulder.  "It is done, child.  Go now, back to your room and your studies.  You will be given more time to face the issues in your heart.  When you are ready, the Ter’Angreal will be there, waiting.  One day."

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It was 1 year after her initial rejection.  Wilemi did not find life much more difficult, or easier.  Nenen, not unexpectedly, was raised not long after Wilemi's rejection, and had passed, with flying colours, though her eyes looked haunted for weeks afterward.  Nesyer had been summoned a week ago, and she to now wore the banded hem of an Accepted.  Out of the 3, she was not yet raised, and Wilemi was ashamed, slightly.

 

But she was just NOT ready yet.  She still had a bit more the settle in her heart before she could let go entirely.

 

"Wilemi Kailadel, you are summoned to take your test for Acceptance.  You must follow me with haste, and speak to no one in passing."

 

Wilemi jumped.  Larindha stood there, her eyes expectent, and gazing at her with a question in her eyes.  Wilemi stood up, a panicked expression on her face for an instant before it was smoohed over with practice.  A concerned frown passed in turn of Larindha's face, as she studied Wilemi, who looked ill.

 

But Wilemi regained her composure, steadied herself, though she looked pale.  But inside, she was crying.  Not now, not now, I'm not ready!  She cried inwardly as she trudged down the spotless steps to the room, retracing those bitter steps a year ago when she had refused the Test for her first time.  Now, she was going to refuse it a second time.  She bit her lip until it almost bled.  But as it was, her lip was going to be sore for weeks now.

 

Finally, both of them entered the room.  There were four sisters present, but her mind dismissed them automatically as her eyes centered on the giant Ter’Angreal.  Centered in the room, the object of the Power appeared to be three metal arches, placed equidistant in a circle, and tilting inwards so that the tops of them touched.  She faced it, with dread as Larindha spoke the ritual words.

 

"I will now tell you two things that no woman hears until she enters this room. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, and no matter your potential, you will be very kindly put out of the Tower with enough silver to support you a year. 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."

 

Larindha continued her speech, rattling on as Wilemi recalled the words from her mind, burned into her memory forever.

 

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

 

Wilemi bit her lip again.  This time, it did bleed.  She turned away, tears streaming down her face in shame.  "I cannot do it yet.  Not yet.  The day has not come yet."

 

The Mistress of Novices nodded.  Her eyes showed understanding, with a tinge of regret and disappointment, for she knew that Wilemi still had problems to settle, before she felt that she would be ready to confront her fears in the Test.  She turned to the other four women present, and spoke again.  "She has refused the test.  Let no one speak of what transpired here today, not even amongst themselves.  Go now, under the Light."

 

With that, the four sisters made towards the heavy doors to leave, looking at her, this time, with pity in their eyes for the one who would refuse twice.

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"Wilemi Kailadel Aravell ti Shiwar, you are summoned to take your test for Acceptance.  You must follow me with haste, and speak to no one in passing."

 

Wilemi spun around, startled.  It had been 2 years since her second refusal, and the matters of her heart had been straightened out slmost completely, but not quite.  However, she had no choice but to follow.  A refusal would mean being put out of the White Tower for good.  Now Novices sniggered at her, and Aes Sedai all but ignored her.  There were even rumors, before Larindha dealt with them, that Wilemi would never be allowed to attain the Great Serpent Ring.

 

It had come.  Novices stared as she passed, for the third time, down into the bottomost steps.  She met Nenen along the way, who touched her arm, giving her the strength of will to continue the steps down.

 

Am I ready?  I have to be!  I must be!

 

Finally, both of them entered the room.  There were four sisters present, but her mind dismissed them automatically as her eyes centered on the giant Ter’Angreal.  Centered in the room, the object of the Power appeared to be three metal arches, placed equidistant in a circle, and tilting inwards so that the tops of them touched.  She faced it, with dread as Larindha spoke the ritual words.

 

"I will now tell you two things that no woman hears until she enters this room. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, and no matter your potential, you will be very kindly put out of the Tower with enough silver to support you a year. 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."

 

Larindha continued her speech, rattling on as Wilemi recalled the words from her mind, burned into her memory forever.

 

"This is your final chance, child. You may turn back now, and choose to leave the Tower forever, with enough silver to support you for a year.  It is no shame to refuse.  Many cannot do this.  Choose now, child."

 

Looking at the Ter'Angreal.  Wilemi gave a sigh that turned into a half-sob.  Finally, wiping a tear from her cheek, she finally gave the signal that Larindha had been waiting for for years.

 

She burst into tears.  "The Light will it so, I am ready.  I am ready.  Hear my choice!  I will take the test, and become Aes Sedai."

 

A sigh of relief seemed to escape Larindha, before she closed it shut, so fast that Wilemi could have imagined it.

 

Larindhra nodded and turned towards the Ter’Angreal which indicated the start of the canon as was done for each of these ceremonies.

 

The brown sister beside the table spoke solomnly and clearly, with Larindha answering

 

“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?”

 

“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 then turned back to Wilemi, who immediately began to pull of her dress, and remove all trace of thread from her body.  Wilemi finally stood, bare to the light, her skin showing a pearly pale sheen in the faint glow of the lamps.  As she walked towards the first arch, her arms opened wide as if to embrace the Ter'Angreal, as Larindha spoke.

 

“The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.  Go with the Light.”

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Wilemi gave a start and realized that she had been staring at nothing for quite some time in particular.  She was back in Caemlyn, in a familar street, just outside her home, where she had often wandered in past days, ever observing the beauty of the nature tha surrounded their house, properous as it was, with the hustle and bustle.  Their house was practically a mansion, as befitted a large extended family with over 18 people living inside, with 4 or 5 adults supporting the whole family.

 

"Wilemi, are you all right?"

 

Wilemi jumped, her plain cotten dress that Estean, her grandmother had woven for her, swirling as she spun around to face the newcomer, Nenen, her twin sister.  "Ne..."

 

The way will come back but once, be steadfast.

 

The thought broke into her mind suddenly, and was gone.  Wilemi was left standing, mouth half open, her words unfinished as they trailed off.  Nenen's face creased into a frown.  "Are you all right Wilemi?  You are not yourself today.  What is the matter?"  Her neck-length hair swirled as she shook her head.  "Too much reading and too little exercise fuzzles the mind."  She grinned wickedly at Wilemi

 

Wilemi rolled her eyes.  "Nenen..."  she said, in something like exasperated humour.  "One of these days your mouth is going to bring you into deeper trouble than you could think off.  Those men you are flirting with are not boys any longer.  Your going to get into serious trouble soon.  I think."  She grinned back, with a smile as fierce and as wicked as Nenen's had been.

 

The way will come back but once, be steadfast.

 

The voice chimed in her head, and was gone again.

 

Wilemi recovered more quickly this time, her eyes only widening for a fraction of a second before she regained self-control.  Nenen did not notice this, her face was wreathed in a smile as she looked down the street.  "That's my girl."  she said, reaching out and pulling Wilemi back down the lane towards her house.  "You tell them.  Anyways, an Aes Sedai has come to our house.  She seems interested in us children, and she wants to test us for the potential.  Old Grandma is sending for everyone to meet in the welcoming hall."

 

Wilemi's eyes widened, and she and Nenen rushed towards the house, opening the door with a crash.  There stood the rest of the family, waiting expectantly, and the Aes Sedai, her blue shawl hanging from her shoulders as she surveyed them all with a regal air.

 

"Everyone has arrived, Sherimin Sedai."  Estean said, bowing deferentially.  The Aes Sedai nodded, but her attention was on Wilemi and Nenen, she scrutinized them soundly, and Wilemi felt as though she was being weighed and measured, one by one.

 

"Come here, you and you."  she said, pointing towards Wilemi and Nenen.  Startled, they gazed at one another, then moved forward simultaneously.  "And you."  she said, her hand shooting out to her side, without looking.  Nesyer jumped, then hurried fowards as well.

 

"Well, Estean, it seems that your granddaughters have the inert ability to channel.  I can feel it.  It would have manifested soon."  she said, nodding approvingly.  "They will become Aes Sedai, they have the strength.  But are they ready in mind and soul?  We will see."

 

The way will come back but once.  Be steadfast.

 

Wilemi jumped, and turned.  Behind her stood a silver archway, and she knew what she had to do.  She sighed and turned.

 

"Child, what are you doing?"  The Aes Sedai said sharply.

 

Wilemi ignored her.

 

"Wilemi, come back!  Please!".  It was Nenen this time.  Wilemi stopped, and turned to face them, all, tears running down her cheeks.  She had no choice.  Her path was clear.  She had to...

 

With a sigh that turned into a sob, she ran at the archway and threw herself into it.

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The light burned her soul for what seemed like eternity before Wilemi stumbled out, the whiteness fading from her eyes.  One moment she had been back in her home, wanting to become Aes Sedai.  The next, she had walked right into the arch and the light.  Her betrayal of her sister tore at her soul, and tears sprang into her eyes again by just the very thought of it.

 

They flowed freely down her cheeks as she looked at Larindha.  "Was it real?  Did I really leave her behind?  Please, tell me!  Tell me it wasn't real.  Oh..."

 

The Brown Sister came in front of her, compassion in her face, and poured water onto her.  “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.”

 

She burst into helpless tears as the Mistress of Novices embraced her comfortingly.  "I do not know child.  No one does.  It may be.  It may only be a reflection of what could have been.  It is impossible to say.  But it can be endured.  It must be endured."

 

Wilemi nodded unsteadily.

 

"It will pass in time child.  Are you ready to go on?"  Wilemi hesitated, staring at the next arch, then reluctantly nodded.  She would become Aes Sedai.  "The second time is for what is.  The way will come but once.  Be steadfast.”

 

Wilemi stepped forward into the arch, and Light sear her to her very soul.

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Wilemi sat at the dinner table at home, her small stomach full and contentedly reading one of the books she had taken out of Estean's library in the house.  Beside her, Nenen was practicing swordplay with her uncle, Abello.  The metallic rings of the swords however, were as distant as that of the everyday noises issuing from out of the window.  They were Wilders, having manefested the spark not too long ago, and was being trained by Estean in secret, guided till today, where they now could channel.

 

Suddenly, the main door burst open, and her grandfather stood in the doorway, looking half-mad as his eyes spun round the room, and settled on Estean, who met his gaze with cool defiance.  Wilemi looked from between her grandfather, to Estean, who sat, arms folded, looking at him with an expression of deepest contempt.  "So, the moment has finally come, Namell.  What are you going to do now?  Are you going to kill me?  Darkfriend."  She said that last with a sneer.

 

Wilemi's eyes widened, and everybody else stared at Namell.  He snarled in anger and fustration, and his hand shot out as Estean embraced the source.  With surprising agility, Estean dived away as the chair spun and hit the wall, its legs broken off.

 

As Abello charged Namell, the door was torn off its hinges and flew towards him.  Immediately, Nenen channeled, and the door crashed against the shield she wove around Abello with a force so great the chimes reverberated around the whole house.  Namell howled again in anger and locked eyes with Estean, who channeled at him, and lashed back, as she cut at something, and he jerked.

 

But it became all too apparent that he was too powerful.  As Wilemi watched, her eyes wide with terror, Even the combined forces of Nenen and Estean could not combat the power of Namell.  He picked off everybody one by one, with great explosions and fireballs.  Seyneru was a charred heap of the floor, and Nesyer was draped over him like a limp cushion, her eyes blank and unseeing.  Abello was pinned to the wall by his own sword in his stomach, his eyes already glazing over.

 

Everywhere was a scene of chaos and explosions and screams.  Wilemi had to do something.  She could channel, she had to help.

 

But even as she embraced the source and started to weave, a voice chimed in her head.

 

The way will come back but once.  Be steadfast.

 

Wilemi looked at Nenen and Estean, who gazed at her, their eyes desperate.  She had to do something.  She had to

 

With a scream of loss, and despair at her betrayal, she hurled herself into the arch.  Her scream was swallowed up in the whiteness, and went on, and on, and on

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When Wilemi came hurling out of the arch, she nearly hit one of the sisters by accident, who didn't even flinch, concentrating as she was on the arch.  The brown sister walked forwards, sympathy on her face at Wilemi's contorted expression of sadness and despair of her betrayal.  "You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."

 

"Am I.  Am I?"  Wilemi muttered between sobs.  "I left her.  Again.  I left her to die, fighting against a dreadlord, and I could have helped.  I could have saved her and my grandmother both.  Why?  Why?"  She burst again into helpless tears, making no move towards the 3rd Arch.  She looked at it with fear.  Larindha came, sadness on her face.  "Will you refuse to go on now child?  Knowing what it would mean?"

 

"Give me a minute."  Wilemi said, a bit breathless with tears.  "I will finish the test, as I said I would.  Light please.  Give me the will and courage."

 

Shrugging her shoulders up, she straightened them, and looking at the third arch again, ran forward and threw herself into the arch.  Behind her, she heard Larindha's voice fading into the distance.  “The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.  Come back to us.”

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Wilemi ran along the fields of Saldaea, and her nearby horse reared in surprise.  Startled at herself, Wilemi checked her pace and slowed to a walk.  An Aes Sedai had to maintain some semblance of dignity, especially in her maternal homeland, the estates of her grandmother, Estean.  She and the surviving family had taken a move to the now permanent home of her grandmother.  Seyneru was living there as well.  But Wilemi was the only one out and about so early in the morning.

 

Her long hair flew in the wind that she had summoned with the One Power.  Air and Water gleamed in the sky as she looked up, satisfied as the strength of the breeze.  With laughter, she spun around, glad to be free as she had never been free before.  Her hair, free from its usual net, was tossed wily-nily, and her dress, a fine brown silk with green and yellow slashes, with a low neckline, stirred among the waving blades of grass on the plains.

 

"Isn't it nice to be out and about, Wilemi Sedai?"  a deep voice asked.

 

Wilemi jumped, stifling a gasp.  It was a young man, not older than 30, maybe even in his middle twenties.  His name, if Wilemi remembered correctly, was Yokarlin.  He was charismatic, and handsome, and despite her outward indifference, Wilemi was inwardly amused and pleased at his behaviour towards her, as though an Aes Sedai could be courted.  Wilemi found herself attracted to him, despite all her attempts to distract herself by burying her in her studies.  Looking at him quizzically, Wilemi smiled at the same time, while he beamed at her and made an overexaggerated leg.

 

Wilemi laughed.

 

"Stop it.  Are you actually trying to court an Aes Sedai?  Especially a Brown Sister?  Do you actually think that you can stand being buryed up to your waist in dusty old parchments?  Especially if they are about the One Power?"  she snorted, grinning fiendishly at him.  "I certainly don't think you could stand it.  Not with you being so active and all.  Go court Nenen.  She likes someone who can stand her temper with a greater one, and can keep up with her activities."

 

Yokarlin actually looked serious.  "Hmmm.  Maybe.  But she's not the type for me.  I prefer the quiet type, so I can dominate them."  his mouth twitched as he continued.  "I like reading anyway.  I'm a good learner."  He considered Wilemi, his eyes travelling across her face.  "Perhaps you could teach me about the One Power.  Together, we could write a book."

 

Wilemi smiled at him, her face lighting up.  "That's a good idea."  Putting her arms around his shoulders, broad and comfortable, she leaned on them, and looked at the horizon, savouring the sunrise.  Yokarlin looked at her, a smile on his face, before he looked to the horizon as well, and put an arm about her waist.  Wilemi looked at him, her eyes wide.  Never before had anyone expressed a romantic interest in her.  It was, strangely interesting.

 

Then, they looked at each other, and Yokarlin bent down towards each other.  Wilemi closed her eyes, as their lips met.  They kissed each other, tentatively at first, but as the moments went by, with passion and love.

 

The way will come back but once.  Be steadfast.

 

Wilemi stiffened, and Yokarlin broke off.  "Is there something wrong, Wilemi?"

 

Looking around, Wilemi saw a glistening arch forming in the distance.  "I love you Yokarlin.  Remember me always.  I'm sorry."  Tears glistened down her cheeks as she backed away, her dress fluttering.  Turning, she ran towards the gleaming light.

 

"Wilemi.  Please.  No!  Don't leave me...!"

 

The words burnt straight into Wilemi's very heart as she ran into the arch with a scream.

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The scream went on and on, and she was still screaming when she stumbled out of the arch, pain on her face.  I lost it when I just began to know it.  Never again would she take for-granted the human emotion of love.  She finally closed her mouth, and started to cry, collapsing on the ground, her hair masking the pain on her face.  She was touched gently on the shoulder by the Mistress of Novices.  Larindha had multiple expressions on her face, pride and sympathy.

 

"You did incredibly well Wilemi.  Now, remember what must be done."

 

Wilemi did.  Looking up, she saw Karana Majin, the Amrylin Seat, staring impassively at her, with a sister of each Ajah at her side.  Brown, Green, Gray, Blue, Red, Yellow and White.  All were there.  And all were looking at her impassively.  Picking up her feet, she walked, tiredly towards the Amrylin Seat, and knelt in front of her, her long hair covering her face.

 

The Amrylin Seat took the last chalice of water, and poured the cold water down Wilemi, as she tried hard not to shiver.  “You are washed clean of Wilemi Kailadel Aravell ti Shiwar of Caemlyn, Andor.  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 Wilemi Kailadel Aravell ti Shiwar, Accepted of the White Tower.”

 

“You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter,” Karana said.  Taking the Great Serpent Ring, she put it onto Wilemi's left finger.  “Welcome, Daughter”, she said, kissing Wilemi on one cheek, then on the other.  “Welcome.”

 

They said the ring was worth any price you had to pay ...

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