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Nesyer's Arches: Empathy, Sympathy and Apathy

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"Nesyer Yoshan 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."


Nesyer had been on the way to the corridor for lunch, accompanied by her friends that she had made during her life as a Novice in the Tower.  Now, they shrank back from her, a respectful silence fell, as Nesyer made her way to the bottomost basment of the White Tower.  Nenen had been raised over a year ago, and Wilemi had been summoned, and had refused the test.  Nesyer wondered in her heart, whether she was ready, and whether she ever would be.


Down they went, the corridor swept clean of any dust, and Nesyer's slippers were accompaned by the rythamic tap of Larindha's soles on the floor as well.  The shawl of the red ajah streamed out behind her as they walked briskly on the lowest corridor in the White Tower.  The Mistress of Novices opened a door, and Nesyer entered, her slippered feet coming to a halt at the scene in front of her.


Nesyer's eyes roved around.  The Ter'Angreal was in the center of the room, catching to eye of everyone in the room.  Three sisters sat around it, on in front of each arch, carefully maintaining it for the Test that was about to begin.  It hummed and sang softly, streaks of colour streaking across its surface time and time again, it was by far the most eye-catching thing that she had ever seen.  Try as she might, she could not break her gaze from the clutches of the light it emitted.


Larindha loomed out of nowhere, her face grave.  Turning her attention to the Mistress of Novices, she looked at her expectantly.


“Two things shall I tell you now 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, 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 failure.”


“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.”


Nesyer did not speak.  She looked at the Ter'Angreal.  She searched her own heart, and found a steely resolve that was in her heart.  She would become Aes Sedai.  She would face her fears, and be ready for them.  She looked up at the Larindha Sedai, and nodded.


"So be it.  I am ready."


“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?”, a voice rang out.  A Sister was standing nearby.  A Gray, from her shawl.


“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.”


Nesyer immediately began to undress under the steady gaze of the Aes Sedai.  Baring herself to the skin, she began to walk steadly foward, her black hair absorbing the light the Ter'Angreal gave out.  As she was enveloped by the Light, she heard Larindha speak one last time, before white enveloped her senses.


“The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

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Nesyer worked in the herbal garden outside the Mansion as she pulled out weeds, humming contentedly in the garden.  She loved her life, as one of the best Readers for miles around, maybe even in Caemlyn.  Her reputation had grown slowly at first, but when she managed to cure people who Estean had given up on the brink of death, her reputation had grown.  As a result, she earned more money, which she used to buy some land for a herb garden.  She had bought an adjacent empty house and demolished it, for it had not occupents and was dilapedated, and used the small piece of land to expand her herb garden.  It was neccessary, for many more people came to her nowadays.


Nesyer however, was slightly uneasy.  Those times, she had sat on the people's deathbeds, not knowing what to do, when something had changed in her and she had cured them, miraculously, without doing anything except touching them.  Nesyer had been too scared to admite anything to anyone save Estean, after the third time, who looked worried and had done something to her.  But Nesyer couldn't really tell what, and thus Nesyer continued her life as it was.  It had insofar as of yet unaffected her, except that something seemed to be blocked from her.


The way will come back but once, be steadfast


The voice rang in her mind, and she started.  What was that?  The thoughts were whisked away like leaves on a wind.


However, there was nothing she could do.  So she continued her work and her life as per normal.  Now married to a man named Kalo, she was as happy as she could expected to be, and more.  They had a child, a son, named Seyrun, after her uncle, Seyneru, though she changed the ending to make it sound shorter.  And like the end of his name, he could run, very fast for a two year old.  Once it took Kalo and Nesyer half-an-hour to run him down all over the house when he refused to come for dinner because it was brussel-sprouts for dinner.


Nesyer smiled and sat down on the nearby bench, surveying her handiwork.  Most of the weeds had been cleared, and her herb garden was ready to be watered.  Taking a watering can from nearby, filled up with water from nearby, she sprayed it on the plants, walking to and fro among the different herbs and patches.  They seemed to freshen when sprayed with it, more green and vibrant, more alive, more real.  This was her life, and she was perfectly content with it.


Then Nesyer saw a silver arch shimmer and form, and she knew what she had to do.


But she loved her life here.  This was a livelihood.  She would be abandoning her husband and her children.  Her precious family that meant everything to her.  And she would throw it all away in an instant...


Nesyer looked regretfully back at her family, her tended garden, and the house, and walked through the arch, tears shining in her eyes.

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Nesyer strode out of the arch, tears shining in overbright eyes as the light bathed her, as if trying to bring redemption after betrayal.  Nesyer stepped forward, her mind almost a blank as the Gray sister from previously, took a chalice from nearby, and poured cold water on her head.  The water was like ice, freezing the very soul of her heart.  Nesyer nearly broke down.  She had left the life she had dreamed of previously, left it to become Aes Sedai.


“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.”


The words ate at Nesyer's very being.  Washed clean...  How could this be...


Looking over at the Mistress of Novices, she searched Larindha's face for any scrap of emotion.  There was sympathy on her face, and she glanced towards the second arch, then back at Nesyer, as if questioning if she would continue.


Nesyer turned her head slowly, and looked at the arches.  They glowed, hues shifting throughout the Ter'Angreal.  A beautiful display, beckoning, enticing.  Nesyer looked back at Larindha, who returned the stare.  Getting up, Nesyer walked slowly towards the second arch.  Surely her heart couldn't be any more broken then it was now?  Could it?


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

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Nesyer walked serenly down the lawns towards the mansion she was living in by virtue of being the granddaughter of Estean Aravell, a member of a house in Saldaea.  Nesyer smiled at those who worked, and in turn, they curtsied or bowed their heads in recognition of her.  She had been here for over a year now, after she had been raised to an Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, which caused Estean to envy her, but not by much, for now Estean was busy advising the current Head of the Houses Aravell and Shiwar, which had been united by a marriage as both were waning in prominence.


It wasn't too difficult to see why.  Nesyer had only arrived on the first day, and she had found the estate she was in in much disarray.  Settling in an inn, she had marched up straight to the mansion and confronted the Head of House, only to find him doodling on a piece of important parchment and drinking wine.  She had immediately summoned her grandmother Estean back here to sort things out, and even now, the mess that the Houses had descended into because of the incompetence of that idiot had not been straightened out.


"Nesyer Sedai, the Lady Estean has requested to see you now."


Nesyer sighed as she tramped up the stairs past the servant who had met her at the door, and strode in.  Estean had used her influence and experience to make that idiot take her as an advisor.  But there were still some things that she needed help in.  It was somewhat ironic that the advisor needed advice.  But the only one that Estean felt was qualified enough to make that sort of decision would be Nesyer.  Nesyer was of the Gray Ajah, and those who knew Aes Sedai knew to look for a Gray Ajah Sister over other Aes Sedai to give weight to her words in making decisions such as these.


Nesyer knocked and entered.  Estean sat on the table, looking at a stack of documents, frowning in concentration.  Nesyer smiled and sat down.  It felt good to be needed, instead of just simply walking around, waiting for things to happen to affect her somehow.  "I need your help Nesyer.  I think he's going to rebel sooner or later.  Someone told him that I was making all the decisions in his name, and that I was upsurping his power.  I need the help of the White Tower to bring him under control."


Nesyer blinked in surprise.  Both of them knew that to keep the estate alive, Estean would need to be the power behind the seat.  It seemed that their plans were going to fall apart altogether unless they did something drastic.  Which included maybe a little something in the idiot's wine.


Suddenly the door burst open, and the idiot stood framed in the doorway.  "Guards!"  He shrieked.  "Seize both of them.  NOW!"


Reluctantly, the Guards moved forward.  But Nesyer was ready.


Weaving Air, she summoned the winds and pushed them to one side as behind, in the doorway, archers stood, arrows knocked to bow.  They loosed, but Nesyer's winds deflected them.  Nesyer looked at Estean.  Estean was not bound by the 3 oaths, she could do more here.  Estean nodded, then channeled.  As another shot burst from the archers, Estean's fireball tore through them.  However, it missed the arrows, and one of them struck Estean in the shoulder, and grazed Nesyer's leg and tore her skirt.  Nesyer turned, furious, but the anger in her eyes died as a solid white arch stood where the doorway had been a moment earlier.


"Nesyer, please..."  a sob came from Estean.


Nesyer screamed and hurled herself through the arch and into the light.

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The light tore apart her very soul, and burned her to ash...


Nesyer came hurtling out of the arch and fell onto the floor, sobbing with a broken heart as she recalled abandoning her grandmother to her fate, which would most probably not be good.  Estean would be far too dangerous to be controled, and she would be killed once she was restrained.  Nesyer let her face lie on the ground for sometime, sobbing herself out until a hand rested upon her shoulder.  Larindha Sedai stood there, her face sympathetic at Nesyer's broken heart and expression.


"Can you go on child?"


Nesyer hesitated, then nodded.  Larindha nodded in turn, then gestured the Grey sister forwards.  She poured cold water onto Nesyer's head, and she could not help shivering at the cold and at the musical chimes that rang throughout the room.  What sacrifices did the Aes Sedai in this room have to go through?  And what did they experience?  But Nesyer knew better than to ask.  What was experience in the Ter'Angreal was not to be mentioned.  Ever.  It was for her and her alone to know, and would apply to everybody who had gone through the Ter'Angreal.


"You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."


With that, Nesyer stood up, and looked at the Third Arch, for a long time.


Then, summoning up all her courage, she ran at the arch and threw herself into it, the Light swallowing up her figure and burning it to ash with its intensity.  The last thing she heard was Larindha Sedai speaking the ritual words, her voice piercing faintly through the light to Nesyer.


"The third time is for what will be.  The Way will come back but once.  Be steadfast."

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Nesyer ran as the shouting behind increased.  Behind, there were stones thrown that clattered off the invisible wall she had thrown around herself for her own protection.  Who would have guessed that the reach of the Whitecloaks would have expanded as far as Arad Doman?  They now held sway in several of the cities and towns near the border of Amadica, and their ideologies were spreading at an alarming rate.  Somewhere nearby, Wilemi and Nenen ran too, Wilemi was panting, face pale from physical exertion.  She was weak physically, and could not run for very long.


Suddenly, they found themselves trapped as on the other side of the road, people came marching in.  "The Aes Sedai!"  came a howl from the crowd.


Wilemi looked around desperately.  "There must be another way out.  We can't just sit here waiting for them like sitting ducks.  Its no good.  There are far too many of them."


Nenen hissed as several more stones clattered against her own shield.  "Well, we can't just stand here deliberating on what to do.  Nesyer, lift us up onto the roofs.  NOW!"


Nesyer turned to look at the crowd, then in a blinding flash, channeled cords of Air, and lifted first Wilemi, then Nenen, up onto the roof.  Then Wilemi embraced Saidar and lifted Nesyer onto the rooftop, and ran to the other side, where Nenen made a slide of Air for them to skid down, on top of one another.  Their lives came first.  Dignity came second.  Nesyer rushed around the corner, and found the end of the town in sight.  "Come on.  The way out is here.  Let's go!"


Wilemi groaned, but ran along with them, matching them stride for stride as the gates grew nearer.  Suddenly, the gates were blocked by a swarm of people, who barred their way.


Nesyer wove Air and Fire.  "Let us pass and we will leave now.  Do not attempt to hold us, or the wrath of the Tower will fall upon you and all who support you."


"Darkfriends."  A woman screamed.  "Witches.  Rot in the Dark One's embrace.  Filth, scum!  Begone!"  And she threw several more stones as the crowd charged, waving poles, clubs and some even nocking arrows to bows as they fired.  Nesyer drew upon as much of Saidar as she could embrace without burning herself out, her head pounding with strain, and channeled Spirit in thick amounts.  People simply fell to the ground, exhausted, asleep before they hit the ground.  Beside her, Wilemi was weaving a complicated weave of Air and Water, with a touch of Fire, that caused a Wind to sweep the howling mob out of the way.


Nenen then channeled Earth and Fire at the gates, which had been locked shut.  They exploded, the section of the wall crumbling and burying some more of the mob.  All three of them walked serenly down the street, out of the gates.


Once out of the city, they breathed a sigh of relief.


It was however, too soon.


Three arrows, fired with precision, hummed in the air.  Nesyer spun around and deflected hers in time.  However, Nenen and Wilemi fell in limp rags among the ground.  A cheer went up from the city as the mob screamed curses at them.  Nesyer bent down over them, delving.  She did not have much time.  Channeling flows of Saidar, she was about to complete the weave when the glowing arch appeared to her side.


The way will come back but once.  Be steadfast.


She screamed with anger and loss as she hurled herself through the arch into the light, which swallowed her up.

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Her yell of anger and loss was swallowed by the light as it burned her to ash and picked her apart and tore her soul to pieces.


Nesyer came walking out of the arch, her face cold and anger shining in her eyes.  "Is there nothing left in the world?"  she asked, her voice burning with heat.  "Is there nothing left but to betray those I love, again and again?"  Her anger burned with heat enough to sear any normal person to death.  Larindha Sedai stood in front of her, her face sympathetic.  "Many woman come out of the Arches, and many have said and asked the same thing.  But you have done well.  Remember your part, Nesyer."


Nesyer looked around.  The Amrylin was there, as was a sister from every single Ajah.  They gazed at her with expressionless eyes.  The Grey Sister gave the Mother the chalice as Nesyer knelt reluctantly before her.  Cold water trickled for the final time around the hair, freezing her heart to ice, and her mind to stop.  Oh she was so weary ... so weary


"You are washed clean of Nesyer Yoshan Aravell ti Shiwar of Caemlyn.  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 Nesyer Yoshan Aravell ti Shiwar, Accepted of the White Tower.  You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter."  Karana Majin said, taking the great serpent ring and slipping it onto Nesyer's finger, then kissing both sides of her cheek.


"Welcome daughter, welcome."


It was time enough.

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