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Death and Decay


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A knock came on her bedroom door Milla was out of the room, she was alone. It was the Mistress of Novices. Kate gave a polite curtsy to her elder and senior. It had been bullied into her to do so and she remembered it on every occasion. It took some time to intone such an attitude but it was there now. Kate wondered if it would ever go away. "Come," was all the Mistress of Novices said. Kate obediently followed.


The Mistress of Novices lead Kate into the bowels of the White Tower to a domed chamber where stands a ter'angreal made of three rounded silver arches, each just tall enough to walk under, sitting on a thick silver ring with their ends touching each other. Where the arch touched the ring, an Aes Sedai sat on the floor, they were all concentrating on the silver construction.


A fourth Aes Sedai stood beside a table, three silver chalices sat on the table. Kat e wondered what was in the cups. All of the Aes Sedai present were wearing their shawls. Formality was much of what the White Tower was about.


The Mistress of Novices spoke "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."


Kate nodded. She was ready for this, she wanted to become an Aes Sedai, she was tired of this servitude.


The sister beside the table began the ceremony, "Whom do you bring with you, Sister?" The Mistress of Novice answered, "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."


The Mistress of Novices "Undress, child." Kate did as she was told, removing the white Novice dress and her underclothes. Kate stood in the cold of the bellows of the White Tower and tried not to shiver. She spoke again, "The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."


**** Inside the Ter'angreal ****


Kate was disoriented. She wasn't sure where she was, it was dark, damp and there was nothing she could do to get warm. She shivered and pulled her cloak around her. Where had it come from, she hadn't had it before. Things were a jumble.


In the distance Kate heard splashing footsteps, she moved deeper into the shadows, she didn't know who it was or if they were after her. Kate smiled as she saw her mother running towards her. It had been a while since she'd seen her mother. Her mother mouthed "Run!" She didn't seem afraid, but her mother never did, but Kate did as instructed. She hiked up her skirt and ran like she'd never run before.


Kate dashed around a corner as she heard many more footsteps behind her mother. This time her mother didn't bother to be quiet she yelled "Run Kate, Run!" Kate hesitated as she saw a mass of men bearing swords chasing her mother. Kate was frozen in her tracks. "Run!" was all her mother said as she drew her sword.


Kate didn't move, but a voice sounded in her mind. "They will come but once, be steadfast." What was that suppose to me. Kate watched in horror as the men formed a circle around her mother. There was no way out. Kate could save her, she knew she could help. But then she noticed it, noticed a way out, one that should not be in the catacombs they were in. Kate looked to the portal and back to her mother. Fear ran through her mind, her mother was going to die, she had to save her. As the voice sounded again Kate watched her mother drive a dagger into her heart. "Mother!" Kate yelled and screamed as the voice sounded again, more urgently than before. Kate cried as she headed for the way out. She didn't know where it would lead, but anywhere was better than there. Kate had to leave, she had just watched her mother kill herself, and for what, to save her...


**** Return to the Real World ****


Kate reached the end of the first arch, the Aes Sedai standing near the table poured the water from a chalice on top of Kate's head. "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." Kate stood there trying not to shiver or cry, she would not let this beat her. Kate could not get the image of her mother's death from her mind, but she knew it was not real, though it had a ring of truth to it.


The Mistress of Novices began again. "The second arch is for what is. The way will come but once. Be steadfast."


**** Inside the Ter'angreal ****


The world shimmered and Kate shivered. A woman stood before her. "I am your mother. I promise you I am." Kate blinked in surprise, when had she met this woman - she didn't remember her. "The Great Lord gave me a new body for services well done."


Kate blinked again, but she didn't see any auras, that was odd, she always saw auras around her mother, mostly dark and gruesome, but always saw something. She didn't believe her.


Kate shook her head. "You are not my mother."


The woman insisted. "I am. You broke your leg falling off a horse, but Nalia healed it for you leaving only a flesh wound."


Kate shook her head, "Anyone could have told you that."


The woman smiled. "You are in love with Demus. You wanted my lover."


Kate shook her head, no one had known that. Not a soul had know she had been infatuated with Demus. "How do you know that?"


A voice rang in her mind - the way will come but once, be steadfast.


The woman's grin broadened. "I am your mother, I know what you like and how you feel."


Kate was starting to believe, the woman wrapped her arms around her and Kate felt the safety she'd always felt with her mother, she longed for those arms. She was dead, but she was here. How? Kate heard the voice again and saw an image behind her mother - it called to her, but Kate didn't want to leave the safety of her mother's arms. The way will come but once, be steadfast. Kate didn't want to leave, but she pushed her mother away from her. "You are not real." Tears streamed down her face as she fled through the portal back to the real world. Kate missed her mother.


**** Return to the Real World ****


The world changed abruptly and Kate felt the water pour over her head again, "You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul." Kate visibly shivered this time, but she still bit back the tears.


It was time for the last and final arch. The Mistress of Novices recited, "The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once."


**** Inside the Ter'angreal ****


The air was stale as Kate took a deep breath. The hairs in her nose burned with the heat of the air. Kate blinked and realized she was standing with in a ring of scorched earth. Fire was still ablaze around her.


It took Kate a moment to understand that there was movement outside the ring of fire, she could hear swords clanging and men and women screaming in pain. A war was raging outside of the safety of the circle of fire.


But the rage of the fire soon was cleared as someone blew it out like a candle. Kate looked up and saw her sisters. She wasn't exactly sure why they were her sisters, but she knew that they were. She didn't recognize all the faces, actually she didn't recognize any of them - but they were her sisters. "Come, we must be away before they kill us too."


Kate only nodded and they all turned to walk away from things. But then suddenly in the mist of the raging war, Kate saw the door. "The way will come but once, be steadfast." She knew what that meant, but she had to make her way through the war the opposite direction of safety. Kate shook her head and started her way through the battle. She drew up the one power and flung fire to clear her path. Men and women drew upon her as she made her way to the portal she saught. Arrows flew and Kate managed to block most of them with air, but one managed to graze her side as she flung her self through the portal.


**** Return to the Real World ****


When Kate entered the White Tower again she was shaking from the adrealine rush she'd gotten through her killing and her escape. Her side was bleeding but it didn't matter as she noticed the room was much fuller than it had been before. The Amyrlin Seat in her seven striped stole stands there, with a shawled sister from each Ajah to either side of her. Kate knew what happened next, she walked to the Amyrlin Seat and knelt before her. The Amyrlin Seat pour the last cup of water over he head and spoke. "You are washed clean of Kate al'Ker of Fairhaven. 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 Kate al'Ker, Accepted of the White Tower."


"You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter," The Amrylin Seat handed to one of the other Aes Sedai and reveals a Great Serpent ring. She slipped the ring on to Kate's left middle finger and pulled Kate to her feet, "Welcome, Daughter"and kissed her cheek. And then the other cheek. "Welcome."


With that everyone left and Kate got dressed in her new outfit, the dress of an Accepted was pristine white with the colors of the seven Ajahs at the hem of the skirt. It was a right of passage for Kate, her mother would be proud of the advancement despite the place she had achieved it. Kate knew that the Great Lord would have plans for her, she was one step closer to those plans.

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