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A step forward (Myrrhi's Arches)


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Myrrhi looked around her, biting her lip. She was feeling sick, very sick, and was starting to worry about the breakfast she had eaten a bit earlier. I shouldn’t have taken three slices of bread nor this amount of cheese, she thought.

The Mistress of Novices had asked her to accompany her without any kind of explanations: the young girl had immediately closed the book she had been reading and had jumped to her feet. She knew now that when a Sister asked you to hop, you hopped, hoping that it was high enough. Passing mentally in review everything she had done the past days, Myrrhi hadn’t managed to find any good reason explaining why the Mistress of the Novices would summon her. She had stopped channeling in secret after her little adventure with Pavara and her encounter with Jagen Sedai, she hadn’t dared to approach the Warders training ground either, she had behaved very nicely with all the other Novices… She had done all her chores as fast as she could. But butterflies had still been fighting against each other in her stomach.

Of course, it had been better not to ask any questions and to stay silent. Aes Sedai weren’t fond of curious Novices.


Myrrhi had had to fight to keep up with Hallia. The woman had smiled and winked at Anyora Sedai, a Sister of the Green Ajah. This one was very impressive. Anoyra Sedai wasn’t one to walk, she glided, throwing mysterious smiles to her Warders who were never far from her every now and then. The woman was one of the prettiest faces in the Tower, with a heart shaped face and long black hair. No wonder she had managed to get the attention of four Warders.

Myrrhi had tugged at her light brown hair more than once, with a little feeling of jealousy. She had had her hair quite short when she had entered the Tower. Time had past since then, but she had kept her weird haircut. Very short in the front, longer in the back. It wasn’t the most female kind of look, but she liked it.

When Myrrhi had noticed that Hallia Sedai hadn’t stop in front of the Mistress of Novices office, she had managed to breathe a bit better. Maybe I am summoned for something else than a punishment ? Myrrhi had then started to think about all the classes she had followed so far and it had seemed to her that no topic would require extra lessons. She was not the best channeler but, thanks to the amount of effort she had put in studies and practice, most Sisters had been really happy with her progress.

When the Mistress  of the Novices had started to descend to the lowest levels of the Tower, the Novice had finally understood: it was time for her to become an Accepted.


As soon as Myrrhi entered the room she shivered. It was cold, very cold, and the Ter'angreal laying in the middle of it was one of the strangest, she had ever seen : three big silvery arches were not a common view. Hallia turned her head towards the young girl and explained to her that she had to go through each of the three arches composing the Ter'angreal and would have to come back. Myrrhi didn’t manage to understand all that was said to her. Her eyes were fixed on the arches and on the three Sisters channeling.

The Mistress of the Novices took Myrrhi’s face in her hands and made her look into her eyes.

Edited by Hayl3y
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  • 4 weeks later...

"Myrrhi, you need to concentrate. Look here", the Aes Sedai snapped.


The young girl blushed and tried to look straight in Hallia's eyes. It was not easy though: Myrrhi wanted to analyze everything in the room: she wanted to see and understand what was channeled by the three sitting Aes Sedai, she wanted to know what the ter'angreal could do. She had so many questions, but now was not the time for them.


"As I said, you will have to go through the three Arches : one after the other. Once you begin, there will be no turning back. If you refuse to go forward, you will be sent back home. There will be no second chances". The MoN went on with a scowl. Hallia, it seemed, expected her words to touch the Novice deeply, like they had touched her when she had been the one to be tested. But Myrrhi didn't show any reaction. She simply nodded with a determinded look. She wanted to become an Aes Sedai and was ready to go through anything to reach her goal. She didn't want to go back home: she missed her siblings but she didn't want her old life anymore. She wanted more.


The Aes Sedai went on, "Those Arches are not a toy, far from it. What you will see and encounter while going through them will be dangerous. You have to know that some Novices who entered, never came back. Other returned injured. If you want to come back, safe and sound, you must be steadfast."


Myrrhi nodded again. She was not afraid of the risks. They are all worth it. I don't want to be the prisoner i was with my mother, I want to be myself, i want to learn what i want to learn. Myrrhi tried to picture the life she would have had if she had not left Caemlyn, so ignorant and probably sold to a rich but ugly husband by her mother. She'd have had a child already, if not two or three...


Hallia turned slowly towards the Ter'Angreal, extending her right hand to point at it. "You have to know that there is a way to postpone this. You may ask to pass through it another day. A Novice can ask this two times. But the third try has to be the one. There is no shame in turning your back today."


The Novice made a step towards the Arches. She breathed in, breathed out and with a clear voice said " I am ready, Hallia Sedai."

Edited by Chaelca
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Jagen walked into a chamber far below the Tower's halls, another sister beside her. Her red-fringed shawl was looped around her shoulders, and her companion as well, but fringed in brown. A third and forth Aes Sedai, already there, sat on the ground in front of a ter'angreal they knew well. Three silver arches, connected to a ring of silver on the bottom. The sisters were familiar with their place, and the Brown took her place kneeling on the floor with the other two, each in front of a spot where arches met the ring. Jagen took a spot by a table where a servant had already places three chalices filled with water. The three who sat embraced saidar, beginning the weaves to activate the ter'angreal. It flickered in a way that made it difficult to look at, but soon enough the light emanating from the arches glowed a soft white.


She folded her hands, waiting patiently, her eyes gliding over the curves of the Arches. Jagen remembered her own trip through there, so long ago. The pain had lessened over the years, but she had never forgotten it, nor the lessons learned. The lessons helped her, the experience made her stronger. And it would every novice. Today, Myrrhi would go through. She hoped the girl had the strength to make it through. Only one time a girl had not come back since Jagen had been taking part in this ceremony, and it had vexed her. She did not care for those who could not be necessarily strong.


The Mistress of Novices, then stepped into the room from where she had been standing with Myrrhi. This was the signal of the beginning of the ceremony.

"Whom do you bring with you, Sister?" Jagen asked formally and clearly.

She answered the same way. "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?" Jagen asked, her voice strong.

"She has never faced them, but is now willing."

"Then let her face what she fears." Her eyes went to Myrrhi.


Myrrhi undressed and placed all of her garments neatly on one side, and the Mistress of Novices intoned, "The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."


Jagen took in a small breath as she watched Myrrhi step toward the arches. Be steadfast, she repeated in her head.

Edited by Jagen Sedai
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The way back will come but once. Be steadfast...


Where am I? wondered the Novice. She looked around her, and it seemed to her that the fog that had been surrounding her was slowly dissipating. Soon she recognized the bedroom she had shared with her siblings for so many years. The bed was covered with a nice blanket she had never seen before, though. And the curtains were of a better quality. There were even a couple of pink flowers on a vase, next to the basin she had used to wash herself.


"Come Myrrhi, help me with my dress", she heard one of her sister say, and she turned her head to see Chazelle tugging at the laces covering her dress. It was a very beautiful dress: it was white with pale yellow embroidery and very tight from the chest to the hips : definitely not something her sister should wear. It made Chazelle looked older than her age, and her braided bun, the flowers in her hair and the make up that she was wearing, didn't help.


"Why are you dressed like that" asked Myrrhi. Her sister loved dresses and she always tried to add embroidery and laces to everything she had to wear but this dress looked strangely like a wedding dress... a wedding dress for a bride who had no fear of showing her body. Chazelle replied with a laugh, shaking her head.


"Answer, me, sister..." and slowly things started to make sense. Myrrhi remembered about her sister having to marry, like she herself had been married a couple of years ago. Her mother had chosen for a little sister a husband even richer and uglier than her own. And, as the memories came back, Chazelle's smile disappeared, and she started to cry.


"I can't do this Myrrhi. You have to help me, please. I don't want to be like you: married to a man i don't love and never will. I know Mom needs the money, but i am sure there should be another way!". Myrrhi's wedding had been supposed to bring a lot of fresh coins in the family, but everything had already been spent in jewels, clothes and fancy furniture by her mother."


"Chaz, i'll still be there for you." Myrrhi patted on her sister's head affectionately. Then, as she was turning her head to hear if someone was coming upstairs, she saw something appearing in the back of the room. It looked like a silvery arch and she could hear something calling for her "The way back will come but once. Be steadfast".


"Chaz, don't cry. I will help you"


"Let's run away! We could go to Ebou Dar, and take Eleana and Cammy with us. Please, Myrrhi" Chazelle was clutching at her sleeve, her face wet with tears.


"The way back will come but once. Be steadfast".


Myrrhi felt her heart breaking, she wanted to save and help her sisters, but the arch was calling for her. She needed to go through it. She didn't have the choice. Kissing on her sister's forehead, she told her that all would be fine and started to cry as well.


Then slowly she started to walk to the arch.


Myrrhi was back to the Tower, her eyes still wet.


Memory of what truly was flooded back to her as she was confronted with the face of the Mistress of Novices. Jagen Sedai emptied a silver chalice over her head.


"You are washed clean," she intones, "of what sin you may have done, and of those 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."


Hallia led Myrrhi to the Second Arch. "The second time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be Steadfast."


*** edit to put everything back to black ***

Edited by Chaelca
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Myrrhi went out of a blinding silvery light and found herself in a small clearing. She could hear birds chirping and water running not far from where she was. Turning her head right and left, she noticed two horses and remembered. She had not come here alone. A man had invited her for a walk. She couldn't see him at the moment but she remembered that he had suddenly left with a grin showing his anticipation. Hunting, that was why he had left, but to hunt what, Myrrhi couldn't remember. Was it an animal, a darkspawn... it was so hard to tell.


The girl decided to open herself to Saidar. Better safe than sorry, Myrrhi told herself. Feeling the sweet surge of the power, she already tried to prepare some nasty weavings she had studied in the Tower. Surprinsingly it had taken her no effort. I am getting better at this. Myrrhi smiled and slowly she advanced in direction the man had taken.


What had he done? She knew he was ruthless, and was thinking about bonding him for that reason ... but rushing like this and leaving her alone...


Myrrhi sighed and noticed the two daggers hanging from her belt, in enameled scabbards. They were nicely set, so she could draw them very fast. She knew now how to defend herself. With the power and without. That was probably why the ...man ... had not hesitated to go.


Yes, we will bond soon, she thought, smiling fondly.  But now was not the time to remember all the joustings, the duelings and the fun they had had. She needed to find him. The sooner the better.


Suddenly, she heard a  scream of pain and she rushed to help. It only took her a couple of seconds to reach the man. And she saw : Trollocs, that is why he had left in a hurry ! Myrrhi grabbed her daggers and channeld fireballs without even analyzing the situation. She then tried for a weave of water and spirit. Ice arrows, another one of her tricks. But it was not enough.


The man collapsed on the ground, clutching his left side and bleeding heavily. Five trollocs were dead, but three more were attacking. Myrrhi readied herself to throw another ball of fire when a silvery arch appeared on her side.


"The way back will come but once. Be steadfast", she heard.


Immediately she stopped her weaving. She wanted to rush at her future Warder's aid. He needed it, he was injured. She wanted to fight... but the sweet light of the arches was calling for her.


In a desperate move, she threw a first dagger at one of the remaining opponent, straight in his right eye.


She then tried to concentrate herself, and wove a net of fire and spirit to  hold a second trolloc.


The arch started to flicker.


I can't do this ! Myrrhi wanted to scream. It was impossible for her to concentrate anymore, so she had let go.


"The way back will come but once. Be steadfast"


There was but one path, and crying again she started to run toward the arch.


I am sorry, ... she told to herself as much as to the man.


And she stepped through it.




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Jagen waited patiently after Myrrhi had gone through the arch a second time. It was good she returned the first time, a relief in itself, though she did not show it. She kept her expression passive as she watched the three sisters work. The Mistress of Novices waited nearby. She remembered her own arches. The first time she had seen her family, attacked by Darkfriends--she had abandoned them to their fate. It was horrid, and harsh, for her family had truly died by Darkfriends before she came to the Tower. The difference in the arches was that she had a chance to stop it.


The second time, she had seen friends die. Fellow Accepted, even Aes Sedai she admired, and the Tower partially destroyed by Trollocs and one of the Forsaken. That had made her shudder. How could she have left them? But Jagen had long ago told herself it was not real. It could not be. Perhaps the arches showed possibilities, and gave choices. The arches were there to tempt, to draw them in... a woman had to have strong will to beat the challenge. That's what it was, Jagen decided. It was meant to build up one's will, to filter the girls who wanted to be Aes Sedai more than anything from those who were too weak. After all, what other purpose could it have? To chose abandoning people to their horrid fate... Jagen had often had nightmares for the next decade about it. Even today, she had nightmares of seeing those she cared about succumbing to their unjustified deaths.


She drew in a breath and exhaled calmly. Suddenly Myrrhi came out of the arch a second time. A second relief.


Jagen took up the next chalice and moved to stand by the novice, pouring the cold water on her naked form. "You are washed clean of false pride," she intoned, "You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul." When she finished, she returned to the table to replace the chalice. It was up to the Mistress of Novices to guide her to the third arch. Jagen watched Myrrhi closely. This may be the last time she saw the girl. Be steadfast, she thought again. Though the Red was known for being tough, she did not like to see anyone fail.

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One more arch, though Myrrhi. This is harder than i had imagined.


What could the Ter'Angreal have in store for her this time? With her cheeks wet with water and tears, she stepped through the third arch.


The way back will come but once. Be steadfast...


Myrrhi looked around her. She understood she was in a study. The room wall were covered by big shelves. In some, were books, a couple of them very old and with wrinkly covers. In others, were weapons : daggers, knives, short swords. Everything looked so familiar.


Slowly she stepped towards the oaken desk decorating the middle of the room. As she advanced, she noticed her woolen riding dress. Of course, I am wearing a riding dress: i have to be ready for whatever could happen...


Myrrhi's thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the door.


"Come in", she ordered with a sharp voice. I don't know who this is, but this one will know that I don't like to be interrupted.


The door opened an a Sister came in. Myrrhi knew her well. The Sister's face was half covered with the hood of her cloak, but that had not prevented Myrrhi to recognize her.


"What are you doing here?" Myrrhi asked. "I should give your name to the Amyrlin immediately!"


"Why would you that, Myrrhi?" replied the visitor, with a grin. "I have not done nor said anything so far. And who would believe someone like you?"


Myrrhi stepped back, thinking about all the trouble she had had to go through as a Novice, as an Accepted and even as a fully raised Aes Sedai. Everybody knew she was interested in getting as powerful as it was possible to be. Everybody knew she was training with the Warders like a man woman. And everybody knew that perfecting the ways to attack and to defend herself had turned to an obsession. She had tried to talk to a couple of Sisters about the threats the Darkfriends represented, about some conspiracy she thought she had discovered, but no one had believed her so far.


"I know exactly what you are", Myrrhi was sure she had discovered the truth. This Sister must be of the Black Ajah. She had tried to become Myrrhi's friend and when Myrrhi had shown no real interest, she had started to talk about gaining more power and old weavings that needed to be re-discovered.


The visitor laughed. "Don't you want to get out of this little golden cage you have locked youself in?" The Sister started to channel and wove threads that brought illusions to life.


Now, in the room, Myrrhi could see some of her loved ones who had died : a Novice she had had in her class and who had disappeared when trying to pass her arches ; one of the men she had wanted to bond ; one of her sisters she had left in Caemlyn. It was for Myrrhi not to look away.


The visitor went on, "You could have saved them you know."


Myrrhi felt tempted. She had felt so guitly when her sister had died. Still, she tried a weak "I don't want to have anything to do with the Dark One".


"I am not talking about the Dark one. Let me show you this", and the visitor started to show and explain weavings to Myrrhi. They looked so dangerous, but appealing and wonderful at the same time. Why can't I throw her out of my study? I don't want to see this, but I wand to learn. Myrrhi bit her lip, doing has she had done so many times as a Novice.


"Do you want to learn more?", asked the Sister "I can show you more weavings, but for them you have to accompany me to my room."


Before Myrrhi had the chance to answer, she saw something bright, shining on her right side. It looked like a silvery arch.


The way back will come but once. Be steadfast...


The visitor went on "You are thinking about bonding again, don't you want to protect the man you love?"


Myrrhi didn't manage to move nor to say anything. What can I do? She tried to remember how that man looked like. Her memories were a bit blurry but she knew, deep down, that she loved him deeply.


"What about your niece, isn't she gravely ill at the moment?"


The way back will come but once. Be steadfast...


Already, the arch was shining less brightly.


"How many Novices will endanger themselves? How many Sisters ? You don't have many friends, but the ones you have are really precious to you."


"STOP IT", half growled Myrrhi.


The way back will come but once. Be steadfast...


It was now or never. If she didn't run to the arch immediately, it would disappear. Myrrhi screamed out of frustration and jumped towards the arch. She was sure she had never felt anger like that before. Anger at being seduced by the visitor's proposals, anger at not being powerful enough.


Soon, the light consumed her.




As Myrrhi stepped out of the Arch, she realized all was not as it should have been.


Now, The Amyrlin Seat was present in the room, standing right before Myrrhi  with the last chalice in her hands, as well as a shawled Aes Sedai from each Ajah. Myrrhi bit her lip and, noticing Jagen Sedai nodding, she kneeled.


The Amyrlin slowly poured the chalice content over Myrrhi"s head as she spoke.


"You are washed clean of who you were. 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 Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us, now."


The Amyrlin passed the empty chalice to one of the Sisters and produced a gold ring in the shape of a serpent biting its own tail. Myrrhi trembled softly as she placed the ring on the third finger of your left hand.


Helping Myrrhi to stand the Amyrlin added  "Welcome, Daughter," then kissed her cheek. "Welcome."

Edited by Chaelca
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