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A stony path to walk - Faile´s Arches

Guest Faile1987

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Guest Faile1987

“You should know that Danian died as a warrior, bravely, honourably and well, in service to the Tower and in loyalty to his twin. His watch is over now. But he will not be forgotten.”


The little notion of sleep that had just been about to creep into her physically as well as mentally, retreated immediately with the words of Sirayn Sedai summoned to her consciousness again. Words that haunted her indeed. Day or night, it didn´t matter, Faile just couldn´t bring herself to forget that day. That dreadful day with rain pouring down the sky, just as today. Light, so much like today, she felt like weeping with the clouds outside which hung deep, dark and dreadful as if to exactly. resemble her own mood. But no, she wouldn´t start to cry again, she couldn´t. How long ago had it happened? Weeks? Months? Years? It sometimes seemed to be an eternity, sometimes only yesterday. However it was a fact that she couldn´t allow herself to keep on being in that weeping and pitiful state she had been in far too long already. And yet Faile couldn´t prevent the tears from running down her cheeks as soon as the night´s darkness closed around her, sometimes feeling like a veil of shadow smothering her in her own depressive pits. She had done anything to catch some sleep at first. Worked till deep into the night in the library, a place that had brought calmness and consolation so often before, she had been out around other Novices, concentrating on her work, studying and practising like a dork, trying everything to get her mind off what had happened that dreadful day. Off the fact that he had died on his own, without her even knowing. That she had let him die just like that. Maybe if she had been with him…but no, all that fretting and speculating didn´t lead her to anything except greater pain and restlessness.


But the Light knew she had tried to forget. Had tried to get her mind off the boy, the man she had once met, as lost in the White Tower as she had felt sometimes and yet together they had been found, each by the other one and Faile knew if she had made it to the shawl in time, there would have been no other man she would have asked to bond. Yet the Wheel of Time had spun their threads apart, had cut his and had led hers on in the path of the White Tower, the path to the shawl, to be an Aes Sedai, Servants of All. A Servant of All she would be, Faile knew that much, even though she couldn´t be there for Danian anymore, she would still do what he had wanted most for her. Becoming an Aes Sedai, achieving the shawl, her goal of life, her childhood dream. Doing what Danian had sacrificed himself for. Being there for those who would have need of her, even though she doubted she would ever feel the same longing, the same need for a person again as she had for Danian. As things were know, Faile doubted that she would ever bond anyone. The pain was just too great. Pain she wanted to forget and never live through again. Pain that had showed her the course of life though, showed her that some things were only temporary and knowing that had let something inside her go cold inside. So cold that she could barely bear it, when she realized that life still went on, no matter how unbearable the pain, the burden she had to carry might be, it could always get worse, she knew and she knew what she had to do as the path lay out clear before her. She knew what she had to do. What her task and purpose in the world was and she would stand ready to face it, whatever it would be, wherever the Wheel and the Light would send her, she would go, leaving memories and the past behind. She stood ready.


With these thoughts sleep overtook her, exhausted as she was, fuelling the dim hope of a good, dreamless night, when a knock at her door made her start in her bed, only to have her eyes widen in surprise when she saw Faerzyne Sedai, the Mistress of Novices entering and indicating her to follow silently. Faile immediately knew what was to come. Years spent in Novice White had taught her a lot about what she would have to expect now that her time had come. The time of her testing, testing if she was worthy to proceed. Her heart seemed to beat inside her throat from sheer excitement and nervousness. She had anticipated this moment as much as she had treaded it, ignorant of what exactly would happen to her. The only thing she knew was that no one ever spoke of what happened during the testing. They had learned the words to say, gestures to make, way to act, yet nobody had told them exactly what to expect and how it would be. Now she would know. Now she would have to face whatever might come and she stood ready, just as she had told herself, she stood ready and followed the Mistress of Novices deeper and deeper into the heart of the White Tower, only a bulb of glowing white light illumining their path to the unknown until they had finally reached their destination, the place in which the decision would be made. The decision if she, Faile al´Rahien would be worthy to proceed or not. Her time had come.


The chamber was semi-dark and high above their heads there was a domed ceiling. Yet what did catch her eye was the ter´angreal that stood in the center of the high chamber, made of three rounded silver arches, each just tall enough to walk under, sitting on a thick silver ring with their ends exacty touching each other. Faile blinked as she spotted three Aes Sedai sitting on the floor, one at the point where arch touches ring and apparently all of them concentrating strongly on the silvery construction.


Another fourth Aes Sedai stood next to a table on which sat three silver chalices, apparently filled with water or some other transparent liquid. Faile eyed all of them excitedly, though she tried her best to appear calm and composed as she faced the Mistress of Novices and the four Aes Sedai who all wore their shawls as was required in any kind of official ceremony. Faile suddenly felt light-headed, butterflies seemed to take flight in her stomach. She had to calm down, she told herself. She would make it. This was only another step, a test that life held ready for her. As official and hard as it would be. She would pass it, she had to and she would.


Just then the Mistress of Novices took her by the arm and spoke in a soft and calm voice to her. “I have to 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, 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.”

Faile swallowed. Faerzyne Sedai had never seemed that regal and severe to her, not even during those dreaded and painfully remembered hours she had spent at her study to receive her punishments for all kinds of follies she had committed, and for meeting with Danian…No! She wouldn’t think of him right now, she just couldn´t allow herself to drift off that way again. Not now. This was important, maybe the most important day of her life, her life and her life was in the present, as hard as it was to realized. She had to go on.


“I am ready”, Faile said in a voice much calmer and steadier than she had thought she might possibly be able to be. She was ready indeed.


She had barely said the words when the Sister she couldn´t put any name to beside the table intoned:


“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?”


“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister”, the Mistress of Novice answered, just as Faile had been taught she would. The ceremony had begun. Her testing was near.


“Is she ready?”


“She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.” I am, Faile thought, echoing the Mistress of Novices´ words mentally, yet she remained silent, just as she was supposed to. She would do what would be asked from her.


“Does she know her fears?”


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


“Then let her face what she fears.”


The Sister´s words finalized the litany and deep inside her Faile felt like they had also finalized her time as a Novice. The Tower had made her grow way more than only in age. She was not a child anymore and would never be again. She felt small and indistinct and yet she had to be grown and strong. This was her day. Now everything counted. Now the course of her life would be decided. Fail or pass. The Tower or being an outcast. She would do as she was commanded to do, when the Mistress of Novices told her to undress, cold fingers shed her of the dress of a Novice and as she carefully folded it and laid it on the stony ground, she knew she would never see it again, never be the same again, just as she had shed her dress, she had shed a part of her life, was ready to go on and face whatever would come.


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


The words of the Mistress of Novice still rang in her ears when after she was led to the first Arch, that was filled with a myterious white glow, so very much looking like fog, that Faile prepared herself for freezing cold, rippling her bare skin in goosebumps, yet when she went through the first Arch, she found herself covered in sweat running down from her scalp, matting her hair sticking against her, same as her clothes clung to her as she was hiding in the bushes. Hiding and more scared than she had ever been before. A fear she dimly remembered, something that seemed to have happened long past and that the simple mind of the little child she ahad been, had mercifully erased in her memory. But now everything was back. The attack, the sound of wood splittering, windows bursting, her father yelling for her and her mother to run. And running they did, the grunting and growling of great misshapen beasts, beasts that she had been told only existed in stories behind them. She heard them behind her and the darkness made her lose all orientation, darkness and fear all around her and she didn’t see her mother anymore, lost in the dark.


A cry cut the darkness apart. A cry of someone dying that made her shake deeply as she screamed in despair. “FATHER!” But it was already too late and Faile turned around, tears stinging her eyes and she was almost glad she didn´t have to see what the monsters – Trollocs, Light, Trollocs! – did to her father. She tried to shut her ears so she wouldn´t hear their satisfied grunts and their teeth tearing flesh and cracking bones…Light, help them all…where was her mother where was…there was someone missing…”Mother!”,she cried, tears running down her cheeks as she stumbled on, looking for someplace to hide, looking for… “Mother! Ged! Ged, where are you? Ged!”


Ged? Who was Ged? She didn’t even know where she remembered that name from…Ged…someone she knew, only who? She dimly recalled furry blonde hair and eyes big and green as sapphires. Ged…


She shook her head. She didn´t know where that name came from and why her father was dead, why she couldn´t find her mother and where she was. Light, her parents were alive, they were in Shienar, in the city of Fal Dara. Not in the woods at…someplace running for their lives chased by Trollocs…hiding, dying, screaming…She was dizzy. The world turn around her and she fell to her knees, crawling under a nearby bush. Light, she wanted her mother. She wanted her father to be alright again. She…


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


Where did this voice come from? A silver glow suddenly opened ahead of her. It looked like a door, an exit and suddenly everything came back to her. She had to get to the portal or she would be trapped in here forever. Would never escape this nightmare. Would- “FAILE! Faile, come here! Help me! Sister, help me!”, a voice suddenly yelled at the top of his lungs and Faile gasped in shock when she saw the Trolloc running for her brother who stood trapped against a row of trees. “Ged…”,she whispered incredulously as everything seemed to come back to her. How could she have forgotten her younger brother, Ged? How could she? Her memory seemed to have played another vile trick on her. This couldn´t be. She didn’t have a brother. It was only her mother, father and her. In Shienar, Fal Dara. Not here. She didn´t belong here. She had to get away. “FAILE!” She shook her head. This couldn´t be true. It just wasn´t. This wasn´t her brother. It couldn´t be…It couldn´t. But why did she know that it was true then? Why was she already about to run to him and save the brother she had loved more than anything in the world before they had been separated.


“Light, help me, it´s true…”, she whispered, covering her mouth in shock as she remembered everything. How she hadn´t found her parents again. How her father died. How she had been found and brought far, far away. How she had forgotten. Light, she had forgotten them all, had betrayed her family. Her entire life had been nothing but a lie. They had never told her…she had forgotten about her mother, about her brother…Light she wouldn’t forget him again. Wouldn´t allow them to be separated again. “GED!”, she yelled, “GED I`M COMING!”


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


The portal called to her. Her duty, the White Tower. Light she had to go. She owed it to all of them. She had to…Danian, Aithne, Tiegan, Elyssa Sedai. She couldn’t abandon that. She had to…


“Light I can´t …”, she cried, helplessly. “Ged, forgive me, but I can´t save you…RUN, GED! RUN!!!”


She ran and more fell than stepped through the arch, falling to the cold stony ground of the chamber in the White Tower, shaking and crying silently.


“Why?”, she asked, sobbing, “”Why did you allow that to happen? Why did I have to lose him again? He was my brother, my brother..” She was ready to collapse when she felt cold water running down her naked body and a sister holding one of the silvery chalices speak: “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.”


Faile shook her head. How could she have been washed clean of a crime such as this? “Light, he´s my brother”, she whispered softly when the Mistress of Novices touched her shoulder. “He was, child, remember that. What has happened can´t be made undone. You have to leave it behind you.”


Faile nodded silently, gritting her teeth not to sob and break out in tears again. She and to go on and another arch was already waiting for her.


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


She knew she wasn´t supposed to do this. She knew what breaking the Tower rules earned her and it mostly was more than just a spanking by the Mistress of Novices. Even thought she knew she would most likely be caught and punished again, Faile knew she had to do this. She had to see Danian again. One last time. Just once to tell him it was over. For now at least. As much as it hurt her, she couldn´t stand the thought of him being in danger and trouble just because of her anymore. As painful as it was and as much as she would miss him, they would have to wait. At least until she had achieved the banded dress and gained some more privacy. The White Tower was full of eyes and ears and the Sisters knew everything. There were not many secrets that could be kept in the severe white walls of the Tower and least of all by Novices and Trainees. As much as it hurt, she had to set an end to this. For now. For months. Years. Light ,she would miss him. She would- No, she wouldn´t allow herself to think about it as thinking of Danian, of his smile, his eyes lightening when he gazed at her only brought new pain, more pain than she could possibly handle. No, she couldn´t do this anymore. It had to be.


“Faile! Faile, come with me quickly, come!”, it was nobody less than Dorian´s voice calling out for her, just as she had set off for the Yard to meet his twin. He was breathless and sweating. Something was wrong. “Dorian, what-“, he didn´t let her finish the sentence. “It´s Danian. Come!”, he dragged her by the arm and she was dimly surprised how fast he ran, blind as he was. Yet nothing of that seemed to matter. Something was wrong with Danian and she had to help him no matter what.


Her heart seemed to beat like a drum as she ran, keeping Dorian´s pace as they ran through the rain that had soaked their clothes in seconds. Time seemed to stretch to eternities till they had finally reached him. Faile barely recognized him muddy as he was, nearly blending into the ground entirely, dark clouds forming a dense dome of grey darkness above them as she fell to her knees beside Danian´s lifeless body on the ground. He was bleeding from a lot of minor gashes, but what caught her eye was the bleeding wound in his side, that Dorian apparently had tried to take care of, but there was still a lot of blood rushing out of it. It was only a matter of minutes till…


“Faile…”, his lips suddenly moved. “I…I´m sorry..but…I…I don´t think I can do this anymore…I…”, his hand trembled as she took it into hers, cupping it carefully as she kissed his brow. “Don´t worry about it, Danian”, she heard herself say. “It will work out. I know it will. I will help you. Hold still. I will…”


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


What she had taken for another lightning bolt slashing the sky was yet another portal, calling for her, guiding her path. A path she had to take. Had to…


“Faile…”, his voice pleaded, fading already and instinctively she was about to reach out for Saidar when the warning of the Mistress of Novices seemed to echo in her mind. “…And they were never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. Faltering leads to a failure.”


She couldn´t…couldn´t channel, couldn´t reach out for Saidar, couldn´t help Danian. She would have to let him die again. It coudln´t be. They couldn´t be together. And now it wouldn´t be her who ended it. And still it would be her who let him die. Again. She let his hand go closing her eyes as she saw his lips move again. “Faile…”


“I can´t, Danian. I can´t…forgive me…FORGIVE ME!”, she screamed in despair as she staggered to the portal, disappearing in white fog, leaving the one she had loved and would always love behind once again. Guilt and loneliness her only companions besides the sisters who gave her a silent welcome in the Tower chamber 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.”, the Sister who next to her intoned again as she took another chalice from the table and poured it over her.


Faile didn´t even think of raising any questions. It was as if she didn´t have a voice anymore. As if it had just abandoned her when she asked Danian for forgiveness. Light, forgive me, my love. Forgive me. I let you die. How can I be clean in heart and soul after doing this? How can I? How?


She kneeled on the ground, trembling and it took at least two tries from the Mistress of Novices to make her go on. She didn´t want this anymore. She didn´t think she would be able to stand anymore of this. Yet, she had let her brother and the men she loved die, what could be worse than this? She stepped forward to face the last arch.


“The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.”


She was inside the White Tower. Walking down the vaults, only one thought filled her head. She had to see him one last time. She couldn´t let it happening just like that. She knew what she had to do though. It had been her who had got him here after all, into the situation he was in right now. Sitting in one of the cells of the White Tower, waiting for what was inevitable.


There was no other way though. It had to be done. It had been the only way to help him. The only way and there was nothing to be done about it. She would have to face the doom of yet another one of her loved ones. A doom that would be freedom at once. She would be strong and do it. For him. Even though it would haunt her for the rest of her life. It was the only way to save him and even though she had been fiercely against gentling once, an ignorant, naïve novice as she had been, Faile knew that there was nothing else to do. He was already too far gone and approaching his cell she knew she would do it. She just wanted to see him again. Before…Just one last time to explain herself. To say she was sorry, even though he wouldn´t believe her. Even though he must hate her now.


“Please leave us alone”, she told the Sisters standing guard next to his cell. Everyone knew that a male channeller mustn´t be underestimated. “I will take good care of him.” They knew that and left her alone. Faile was glad for some privacy with him, yet what she saw shocked her deeply. His condition couldn´t have worsened that badly in only two days that he had been here, but obviously the effects of forkroot tea and the wounds he had taken had weakened him considerably.


“Ged? Can you hear me?”, she asked softly as she entered his cell, leaving the door open behind her, knowing that he couldn´t escape anyway. She had to swallow hard when she approached the lifeless form of her brother, sagging in his chains. Light, who had thought this to be necessary? As drugged as he is on Forkroot, there is no reason to…”Ged…”, her voice was a soft whisper, warm and full of commiseration when she channelled to undo his chains. She gasped when she caught him as he fell forward into her arms, his legs too weak to carry him and only a sigh that was half a moan told her he was still alive.


It had been all her doing. It had been her who had captured him and brought him to the Tower. To help him as she had promised him. To give him the only help the White Tower had in store for the likes of him. Light, I´m about to gentle my own brother. The little brother I´d lost so long ago only to find him like…like that…Light, help me…


Hastily she wiped a tear off her cheek after she had laid him down softly, bedding his head in her lap as she knelt beside him. She didn´t want to do this and yet she had no other choice. The Wheel was cruel sometimes, but that was just because the Wheel was following its own Pattern and didn´t care much about single threads. A bitter perception of destiny and yet it seemed to be so true, however painful it might be. Forgive me, little brother, but I need to do this…I…


“…sister?”, his lips moved slowly and speaking obviously caused him pain as his face twisted to a grimace, but it was the calmness in his eyes that startled her most, shocked her most, made her feel guilty at most. There was no feverish glow in them, even though he seemed to be burning out outside as she felt when she was carefully attempting to take care of his wounds. Nobody could tell her that these had been self-inflicted…I told them to leave him be…I told them…”Light, Ged…I didn´t want to hurt you…I…I just…”


“…I know…Faile…” it hurt as he spoke her name with so much warmth…understanding…more than she could bear and she had to bite her lip not to burst out crying. She had to be strong. She had to do this. She had to find a way to help him. “I know now. I know that you were only trying to help…so…”, his face twisted in pain when as he coughed, gasping for breath. “They might have beaten me and drugged me up…but they haven´t…you know…gentled me yet…”, he took a deep, rasping breath and it hurt her to see him like that, but the calmness of his eyes, disturbing as it was, never left her when he took her hand into his and she let him do it without flinching back. “Faile…listen…”, his voice already faded again and she was tempted to tell him to stop talking and give him another dose of forkroot so he would slelep and not notice anything anymore, but something inside her knew this might be the last words she ever heard from him and that this was important for him, even though the pain grew more and more unbearable by the second.


“I…I need you to do something for me…”, he went on, his gaze never leaving her eyes. Light he must recognize how hard she tried not to cry. “You said..you saidyou´re help me…and I know what you need to do now…” Another fit of coughing held him in it´s grip and he vainly tried to sit up, finally ending up with her halfway dragging him up to let him lean against her. “Ged…you´re hurt…you should sleep…you…”


“Do you honestly think I´ll wake up after I fall asleep tonight?”, he asked, the truth that he spoke nearly making her flinch, admitting he was right. Yet she knew he was right. So right, Light, so right....


“You know what they will do…you know…”, he suddenly seemed to become so small, almost fragile, looking for help and protection as he spoke on, his voice quivering as he squeezed her hand tightly, “I…I´m afraid, Faile…I…I can´t…I never wanted this…power…this curse…I never…I never wanted to do what I have done and would wish I´d never have been able to channel, but…Light, Faile, I can´t live without it…You know that…You know that they can´t help me…Faile…”, his grip tensed and she was tempted to break the line of their eyes meeting. She just didn´t want to see him looking at her anymore. At her and her guilt. “You are the only person who can help me and you know it..”, he let go of her hand all of a sudden. “You know the only way that won´t leave me…rotting…rotting alive, more dead than living…you…Faile…you have to kill me…now. Please. Please...”


She let go of him, making him fall back in the wet straw with a halfway stifled moan. “No”, she said, her voice barely louder than his…”No…I…no…”


“Please…Faile…please…you have to..you just have to…”, his voice was all but a whimpering. He was crying, she noticed. Crying and raising hands that used to be strong but now where bereft of all their former power in a helpless plead when a silvery light illumined the cell. A light that was all to familiar to her. As familiar as it was dreaded.


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


Be steadfast. Be steadfast. Light how could she be when her world was just falling apart? It tore her heart, her soul apart to see him so, to have to face this. The decision between her oath, the cause she had dedicated her life to and the one person close to her that had remained left, tainted and cursed as he might be. Light, she didn’t want to lose him. And yet she couldn´t let him live. But kill him? “I…Ged, I…”

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


She turned away from him. “I…Ged…I´m sorry…I can´t…I´m so sorry…”


“Please…sister…you can´t leave me here…not like that…Faile…”, his voice cut her like a knife and she coudln´t hold back the tears anymore when she let go of him, kissing his hot brow for a last time. The last time ever. “I can´t”, she cried, “I need to go…forgive me, Ged…please…FORGIVE ME!”




His voice and her own cries, begging for forgiveness followed her, ringing in her ears as she stepped through the third portal and collapsed on the ground, at the point of sheer physical and mental exhaustion.


“Ged…forgive me…forgive me brother..I couldn´t…”, she sobbed on the floor, shaking worse than ever before, every fiber or her body feeling cold, her very heart feeling frozen to an icecube when a soft, calm voice woke her from her stupor as did the last chalice of cold water that was poured down on her, even increasing her shuddering as she was still kneeling, seeing the Amyrlin herself holding the empty chalice, intoning:


“You are washed clean of Faile al´Rahien of Fal Dara.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 Faile al´Rahien, Accepted of the White Tower.”


“You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter,” said the Amyrlin Seat. She then hands the chalice to one of the other Aes Sedai and produces a Great Serpent ring slipping it to her left hand´s third finger before helping her to her feet when she realized the room was full of Aes Sedai now who whitnessed the end of the ceremony. On the Amyrlin´s last words that finished the ceremony, Faile knew she had taken one more step to follow the path of the White Tower and she knew that this path would make her bear a lot. Maybe more than she could handle, but for now, she had passed the testing.


“Welcome, Daughter”, she says kissing your cheek. And then the other cheek. “Welcome.”

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