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  1. 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.
  2. The silence that blanketed the room was broken only by the hushed footsteps of Sisters returning books to shelves and occasional whispered exchanges between Novices receiving orders and the Aes Sedai issuing them. Kiyi, tucked away in an isolated corner, was unaware of even those minor intrusions to the peace of the massive room. Her fingers absently caressed the leather bindings of the small volume lying on the table before her and her eyes, although appearing to rest on the embossed title of the cover, were unfocussed. Normally, the writing, dealing with the undercurrents and complexities of Daes Dae’mar, would have held her spellbound; but not this day. Having a few rare hours to herself, Kiyi had as usual headed straight to the Great Library, a building second only in size to the Tower itself. The sheer extent of the knowledge collected there was overwhelming; the privilege of having access to it, access which would be extended further upon becoming a full Sister, was the impetus that kept Kiyi going. She could barely begin to imagine the secrets held here and the hunger to immerse herself fully only grew as the years of novicehood passed. Despite that wish, concentration was currently fleeting and elusive and instead, her mind was wholly taken up with a troubling thought. A thought that disagreed so entirely with Tower policy that it was causing a deal of heart searching. So involved was she in her convoluted internal debate, that she didn’t hear the Sister approach. A firm hand laid itself upon her shoulder and Kiyi’s gaze lifted to discover the Mistress of Novices regarding her with an inscrutable expression. As the hand withdrew, Kiyi hurriedly stood up and curtsied, keeping her eyes downcast respectfully until the woman should choose to speak. “Come with me, child and do not dawdle,” Larindhra’s voice was calm but made it clear that compliance was expected... immediately. Kiyi’s brain scattered, trying to think of any mistakes she had made recently, certain that she must be in trouble for something to have attracted Larindhra’s attention. Her own visits to the Mistress of Novices’ office had been relatively few compared to her fellows but those visits had been more than memorable enough to make her avoid them like the plague. She favoured Larindhra with a sidelong look as they left the Library but could discern nothing from that ageless visage. Trying to control fluttering nerves, Kiyi gradually became aware of their surroundings as wide open hallways gave way to narrower corridors with barely seen doors leading off into the Creator only knew what. The silent walk seemed interminable and a nugget of fear began to form in the pit of her stomach just as Larindhra Sedai finally spoke again. “Your time of Testing is upon you, child. Keep up.” Kiyi’s eyes widened, though she managed, barely, to keep the shock from her features and her thoughts tumbled faster wondering what was to come, what she would have to do. Elation at reaching this stage battled with self doubt as their steps echoed back at them from the walls. We must be far below the Tower now! They came to a halt before a stout wooden door and Larindhra looked Kiyi over, a hint of speculation in her clear eyes. Apparently satisfied, the older woman opened the door and strode inside with Kiyi trailing her apprehensively, attempting to take in everything with one awed glance. She was in a domed chamber, its floor dominated by three rounded silvery arches settled atop a thick silver circle, their glowing light casting further shadows around the room. The arches themselves looked barely high enough to walk under and where the ends of each one met, sat a Sister wholly concentrated on the rings before her. Kiyi knew she was looking at a ter’angreal and the nerves fluttered higher. Another Aes Sedai was positioned quietly beside a small table behind Larindhra, three chalices sitting atop it filled with what looked like crystal clear water. Like the Mistress of Novices, all of the Sisters wore their shawls, something that impressed the importance of the event on Kiyi, if any further emphasis had been needed. Sisters rarely wore their shawls within the Tower and seeing them added a measure of stateliness to the occasion. Turning towards Larindhra, Kiyi straightened her shoulders, a determination settling on her now that the moment had arrived, but she could not prevent her hands pressing tightly against her stomach as though to hold herself together. “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. Secondly, 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. They were never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. Faltering leads to a failure.” Larindhra’s voice carried through the room, her eyes fastened to Kiyi’s intent on imparting every bit of meaning behind her words and Kiyi was sure they would be imprinted on her mind for all time. “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.” Seconds passed in what felt like hours as Kiyi tried to find her voice and push it past tight throat muscles and a dry mouth. A brief nod was followed by a strangled but definite, “I am ready, Larindhra Sedai.” The Aes Sedai at the table, a Yellow by her shawl, waited barely a heartbeat before speaking in a hard voice, “Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” “One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister,” the Red replied promptly. “Is she ready?” “She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.” Kiyi looked back and forth from one to the other, her fingers tangling together and untangling once more as she took in every word. “Does she know her fears?” intoned the Yellow. “She has never faced them, but now is willing.” “Then let her face what she fears.” The Mistress of Novices returned her attention to Kiyi, instructing her to undress. Fingers fumbled with buttons, feet tangled up and everything seemed to conspire against Kiyi’s haste to do as she was bid but at last, she self consciously allowed Larindhra to lead her palely naked form towards the first of the Arches. “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.” Step. The soft glow of light vanished behind Kiyi, forgotten already, and she blinked, staring around the barn and then at her companion. She smiled at the blonde haired Lana. “They won’t look for us here. Let’s go up to the loft.” Her voice sounded musical in the silence and Kiyi had a momentary sense of something being wrong. She wasn’t 6 any more and Lana was long gone…but the feeling passed. The other girl grinned back, and Kiyi raced her to the ladder, scrambling up into the dingy space below the rafters. A quick push from behind sent her flying into the loose bales and Lana joined her as they tumbled together laughing and shoving, throwing handfuls of hay at each other. Tiring of this sport, reaching boredom quickly as only the young can, Lana stood up to light a torch left in a bracket by the barn window and lifted it down. “There, we can see now. I want to explore.” The barn loft was a place of intrigue and secrets to the youngsters, filled as it was with long disused implements, old chests of toys no longer needed, discarded items dusty with long years of neglect but which made a veritable treasure trove for bold adventurers such as they were. They often spent hours pretending to be Hunters of the Horn or heroes of legend, drawing on all of the best stories they’d been told. Some time later, Kiyi and Lana poured over the contents of a box they had unearthed from under some old rugs. “Look! It’s a diary I think,” Kiyi’s grey eyes shone with excitement but Lana threw her a scornful glance and snatched the small book away. “Books are boring. You’re always reading Kiyi. It’s no fun.” Lana’s voice took on a petulant whine and Kiyi, annoyed at being denied her pleasure, reached out to shove her hard, grabbing for her prize. So quickly that neither child realised what was happening, Lana fell sideways, knocking the torch from between two shelves where it had been wedged to free up her hands. Kiyi would never have believed that flames could spread so far, so fast, as all of the ancient, dusty, tinder dry relics fell pray to the reaching fire. “Run, Lana, run,” Kiyi shouted, taking to her heels and speeding the length of the loft. She was down the ladder in moments, sure that Lana must be right behind her, but as she gained the floor and looked back, there was no sign of her friend. Something flickered in the corner of her vision and a glance showed her a silvery archway. It called to her, drew her and she knew she had to go. Screams reached her ears, the terror and pleading in them clear. “I’m stuck, Kiyi. The fire... get help, quick. Please... get help!” Kiyi stood undecided, scared tears coming as desperation rooted her to the spot. This was not how it was supposed to be. She couldn’t leave Lana, but she had to go. Her eyes whipped to the silvery glimmer and back to the ladder. “Help, Kiyi help.” Kiyi took a step towards the distant house. She would get her parents. “Be steadfast.” The words were an echo inside her skull. She had to go. “Noooo, Lana!” With a sob, Kiyi changed direction, and flung herself at a run through the archway... and landed hard on her knees on a cold stone floor. Pain seared endlessly through her bones, the light so bright it seemed to consume her. In seconds, Larindhra’s hands were raising her with peculiar gentleness and Kiyi was shocked by the sudden drenching of cold water as the Yellow Sister upended the first chalice over her coppery curls. “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.” Gasping, Kiyi stared at the Sisters, horror and uncertainty warring within her for dominance. She couldn’t remember exactly what had happened, the memories fragmented and vague, but it had been bad… very bad. Still, she held her peace, shivering and stealing herself for what must come. I will do this, no matter what. There is no choice. I will succeed. Larindhra urged her towards the second of the Arches. “The second arch is for what is. The way will come but once. Be steadfast.” Step. Kiyi eyed her reflection in the mirror. She was as ready as she would ever be and she turned to leave the room, her pace measured, as though she had all the time in the world. Anyone else would see only a serene expression, a Sister going about her normal business but inside Kiyi was far from calm. She had worked long and worked hard for this day… dreamed of it for even longer. So long and so hard that she had indeed begun to fear it would never come. It was unusual for a Sister as young as she, even a Blue, to be assigned to such a key political role but she knew she deserved it, knew that no other Sister still in the Tower could play Daes Dae’mar half so well as herself. Advisor to the Cairhienin monarch! Her slippered feet whispered across the tiles of the hallway accompanied by the gentle rustle of her skirts. She was only peripherally aware of Novices and Accepted curtsying respectfully as they scurried by, her attention focused on what was to come. Reaching the antechamber to the Amyrlin’s office, Kiyi paused briefly, allowing the Keeper time to announce her arrival. At the Keeper’s gesture, Kiyi entered and waited patiently for the Amyrlin to speak. “Well Daughter, are you ready? I have the documents here and you may begin your journey today. We have had no reliable information from Cairhien in months. It is of the utmost urgency that you take up your position as soon as possible.” The Amyrlin’s clipped sentences spoke volumes. The White Tower did not like to leave anything to chance and having a monarch of such importance without an advisor was intolerable. A slash of silver made Kiyi turn her head. “The way will come but once.” Confusion clouded her face. She was suddenly certain that she had not yet become a Sister but was equally sure that she’d been raised for many years now. She shook herself. “Indeed Mother, I am ready to leave as soon as you order it so.” The Amyrlin held out a sealed leather case containing the papers and information Kiyi would need… and the archway shone more brightly catching and holding her eyes. Just two steps and I will have what I want. Just two, she thought longingly. But she knew deep within herself that there was nothing to do but go and that to hesitate would somehow be disastrous. With a snarl curling her lip, Kiyi flung herself through the arch…through the heat, the light, the excruciating burning. Kiyi tried desperately to orient herself and steady her legs as the Yellow Sister stepped forward a second time to pour cold water from a chalice over her head and stated, “You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul.” “Did it happen? Was it real? I didn’t... I couldn’t...” blue-grey eyes appealed to Larindhra for answers, for reassurance against the sense of loss and dashed dreams. “Nobody knows, Kiyissalle,” the Mistress of Novices murmured quietly. “Some believe these things seen in the Arches are possibilities, alternative lives. Others believe they are not real at all. We just do not know. You must decide for yourself.” She urged Kiyi towards the next Arch. “The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.” A shudder ran through Kiyi’s slight form but she pulled herself together as best she could and went on. What other choice was there now? Once more, just once more and it will be over. She held tightly to that thought as the light blazed and scoured her body yet again. Step. She wiped the back of her arm tiredly across her brow, scanning the low hills for any sign of pursuit. Nothing. She didn’t have time to be tired. We can’t stop now when so much depends on us. A frown brought the elegant arch of her brows tilting downwards in confusion. Us? “Kiyi, there do be no trace of them. It do be looking to me as though we did lose them this time.” The masculine voice intruded on her puzzlement. A voice she knew as well as her own... and yet, somehow, she was convinced she’d never heard it before in her life. Dove grey eyes transferred themselves from the surrounding vista and came to rest on the owner of that voice; a man who held himself with a deadly grace, whose pale blue eyes never stayed in one place for long and who stood a good 5 inches taller than the diminutive Aes Sedai appraising him. She nodded briefly. “Well we have no time to stop now, my Gaidin, followed or not. We must make what haste we can. We should reach Tar Valon by daybreak, no?” The momentary befuddlement passed as the urgency of the situation was renewed. Kiyi smoothed the bronze silk of her skirts when her stallion pranced fitfully and she settled the animal with a slight pressure from her knees. Tossing her head disdainfully, impatience showed and was gone so quickly that most would not have seen the slight disruption to the calmness of her features. She continued, “I am not about to allow those fools to impede us.” She sniffed delicately, ignoring the fact that the band who had set upon them the day before had in fact already delayed the journey and that their own escape from the trap had been a closer call than either of them liked to acknowledge. “I do no be thinking they be alone, Kiyi,” his voice countered warningly. “There do be no point to pushing ahead and finding ourselves trapped by others.” Kiyi nodded a reluctant agreement as they moved their horses on down the narrow trail. Night would fall soon and that would bring too many opportunities for accidents if naught else. “Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.” Kiyi’s brow wrinkled at the familiar but distant words, the sense of unreality taking her again though it lasted but seconds. The horses settled into a steady trot and it took all her attention to watch the path ahead. Her Warder moved off into the trees, scouting carefully and giving himself space to move. Their route was taking them through a small copse of trees when Kiyi suddenly felt a sharp, strangling pain of a taught wire across her throat, the pressure forcing her unceremoniously from the saddle to land with a solid thud and an agonising crack to her skull before blackness took her. She could only have been unconscious for a matter of minutes but that had been long enough to give the attackers their chance. As she rose unsteadily to her feet, Kiyi was already embracing the power but she saw immediately that she could do nothing without risking harm to her bonded. He was moving fast, striking at several men like lightning slicing through storm clouds but he was outnumbered and Kiyi knew he could not hold them off much longer. As the frantic realisation came, a silvery flicker caught her eye off to the left and a shout of denial spilled from her. The archway hung there, taunting her and she ignored it, turning desperately back to the fighting. “Kiyissalle... go! Now!” his words were knives, cutting ribbons through every fibre of her being and she shook her head in refusal even as she felt his agony blossom inside her head and watched the first sword pierce his side. “You do be doing our friends no good by getting killed. GO!” Another pain flared as a second sword caught him across the back and Kiyi’s knees almost gave way. She could not... would not... leave him here like this. As well be dead herself. She would not run again. The arch seemed to fade a little as she glanced at it but its light pulled at her just as strongly, mocking her wish to ignore it. “Be steadfast.” Kiyi let out a low moan. She had no choice. She ran and leaped, closing her eyes against the betrayal, against her own weakness, against the memory of a pair of ice blue eyes that held death in their depths. His life for hers…the light burned her to the core. Kiyi felt the cold, bare stone of the chamber grazing her palms as she collapsed, the howl that left her throat then sounding as though it came from the farthest reaches of her soul. Gradually, bit by bit, she became aware of her surroundings and saw that there were more Aes Sedai in the chamber than before. The Amyrlin Seat, her seven striped stole across her shoulders, stood watching, her face impassive though her eyes showed empathy for the devestation clear in Kiyi’s own gaze. A Sister from each Ajah flanked the Amyrlin on either side and, recalling what she was meant to do, Kiyi willed herself to stand and walked slowly toward the Amyrlin Seat, kneeling before her as she had been taught. The Amyrlin poured the final chalice of water over Kiyi’s head then spoke clearly, “You are washed clean of Kiyissalle Chevra of Tremonsien. 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 Kiyissalle Chevra, Accepted of the White Tower.” A brief silence fell, Kiyi still not fully believing she had completed what seemed like a trial by fire and feeling sick to her stomach though she could not clearly remember why. “You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter,” said the Amyrlin Seat, a hint of a smile touching her lips. She handed the empty chalice to one of the other Aes Sedai and produced a slim band of gold, a Great Serpent ring, which she slipped onto the third finger of Kiyi’s left hand. Kiyi just had time to curl her fingers possessively into a fist around it before the Amyrlin pulled her upright. “Welcome, Daughter,” she said, kissing Kiyi lightly on both cheeks. “Welcome.” At last, it was real. At last, it sank in that she’d achieved the first step on her journey to becoming Aes Sedai…at a cost. Kiyi’s eyes glowed, a dazzling smile flashing briefly over her face as she curtsied. “Thank you, Mother.” Daughter, not Child, she thought to herself in satisfaction. And now a new road must be traversed. I will succeed. The silent vow repeated itself over and over within the confines of her mind. One day, one day soon, she would see it fulfilled... and hope the cost was not too great.
  3. "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."
  4. Nenen was looking out of the window in her room when it happened. The door slammed open with a rsounding crack, and Nenen jumped, as the Mistress of Novices, clad in a formal red gown, with a red shawl, stood framed in the doorway, her hair flying in the wind that was howling down the corridors of the White Tower, her dress stirring and flapping, giving her the form of some emphermal queen in her room. Nenen curtisied as Larindha spoke. "Nenen 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." Nenen's heart stopped right there and then, for a second, then Larindha was down the ocrridor, sweeping down past the stunned Novices, who stared at Nenen with envy. Nenen followed, her face pale and frightened, despite her bravery. Wilemi smiled through tears. She had been like that ever since her first rejection of the Test for Acceptance. Nenen gave her a wan smile in response as she nearly ran down the corridor to catch up with the Mistress of Novices, causing a Servant to trip and fall in the process. They made steady progress down all the way to the very deepest basement of the White Tower. Nenen shivered. The atmosphere here was chilled and cold, having never been graced with the touch of sunlight for years uncounted. A chill breeze sweeped down the corridor, rattling doors, and Nenen followed Larindha Sedai into a room. What immediately caught Nenen's attention was the Ter'Angreal right in the middle of the room. Three perfect arches, each exactly the same as the other, shining a bright white. Larindhra Sedai stepped in front of Nenen, blocking her view of the Ter'Angreal and spoke, “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 a failure.” A pause in which Nenen nodded her understanding of the rules and the Mistress of Novices continued. “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.” Nenen took one last deep breath and answered in a clear voice, “I am ready, Aes Sedai.” Larindhra nodded and turned towards the Ter’Angreal which indicated the start of the canon as was done for each of these ceremonies. A green sister immediately started to speak. “Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” Her voice was challenging, questioning. “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.” Larindha Sedai turned up to Nenen, sympathy written all over her usually calm and stoic face, as Nenen went, bare to the skin, her hair seeming to fly as she walked slowly but steadly towards the Ter'Angreal, which hummed expectantly. “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast. Come back to us.”
  5. 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."
  6. Carina sat cross legged on the floor of the library, cradling the heavy volume on ‘Nature’s Creatures’ in her lap. She came here often in her rare spare times. So often that the Brown sisters no longer looked up in surprise but instead had started to expect her. One day she had decided to go observe the training of the Tower Guard instead and a Brown sister had come to see if she was ok. Thinking her to be sick as she hadn’t been seen in the library for a full two weeks. Her sitting on the ground had stirred up some controverse at first, for surely future Aes Sedai didn’t do such a thing. Raeyn Sedai put a stop to the other sisters pestering the child about it though, as she seemed to understand it was the girl’s preferred position to learn. The Brown never spoke to her, had only glanced at her in passing, her face completely unreadable as always. She still gave Carina the shivers whenever she saw her. “Now where did I see that section about the wolves….” Carina muttered to herself as she flipped rappidly through the pages. The rustling of the pages effectively muted the sound of aproaching slippers and Carina literally jumped up at the sound of a pointed cough right behind her. Towering over her stood the Mistress of Novices, Larindhra Sedai. Carina’s breath caught as her eyes registered the red fringed shawl the sister was wearing. There were not many occasions where the Mistress of Novices wore her shawl and the only reason for doing so when aproaching a novice was an occasion all novices both longed for and feared at the same time. Gulping visibly, Carina got to her feet and offered the sister a perfect curtsey. The volume completely forgotten, which was a clear sign of the girl’s distress and mental state, she followed as the Mistress of Novices turned and led the way out of the library and down the halls of the Tower. Down they went, through corridors Carina had never before seen, where time seemed to have stood still. A weight lay on the young woman’s shoulders that seemed to be growing heavier with each step. She almost felt the gaze of countless people throughout history upon her as they travelled ever down, into the deepest depths of the Tower. Feeling their gaze and wondering if they considered her worthy. The Light knew she didn’t feel she was! Not yet! There was still so much to learn! Calm yourself, woman. Carina berated herself in silence and automatically slipped into performing her novice exercises. She followed Larindhra to a huge double door that smoothly opened upon their aproach and entered into a domed chamber. Carina gulped then, standing in front of the famed Ter’Angreal known to the novices as the ‘Arches’. The device that would test each of them towards becoming Accepted, the next step on the road to becoming Aes Sedai. She still couldn’t believe this was happening. The Accepted all seemed so much smarter and stronger than herself. They were, after all, only a very small step removed from sisterhood themselves. Would she shame herself today? Her mentor, who had so steadily broken down her fear of the Red Ajah and who had been a steadfast beacon throughout her years at the Tower? Her savior… Carina blinked then. Recalling the man who had died for her, to see her to the Tower safely. Who, three years ago, made the ultimate sacrifice so she could stand here today. As always, her resolve returned and her determination fastened. She would not fail them. When the Mistress of Novices spoke, Carina was ready. As ready as she would ever be. Looking around the chamber, the young woman’s appearance was that of utter calm and acceptance. Her eyes took it all in while her mind held fast to the image of the man who now symbolised her courage, her determination and her drive. The ter’angreal known as ‘the Arches’ was 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 arch touches ring, an Aes Sedai sat on the floor, concentrating on the silvery construction. There was a sister of the Gray, the White and the Yellow Ajah. A fourth Aes Sedai, this one of the Blue Ajah, stood beside a table on which sat three silvery chalices filled with clear water. All four Aes Sedai and the Mistress of Novices wore their shawls. Larindhra Sedai stepped in front of Carina and spoke: “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 a failure.” A pause in which Carina nodded her understanding of the rules and the Mistress of Novices continued. “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.” Carina took one last deep breath and answered in a clear voice, “I am ready, Aes Sedai.” Larindhra nodded and turned towards the Ter’Angreal which indicated the start of the canon as was done for each of these ceremonies. The blue sister beside the table spoke solomnly and clearly, “Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” Larindhra 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.” Larindhra then turned back to the novice and instructed her to strip down to her skin. The young woman blinked once, as she had totally forgotten that part and blushed a bright red as she hurried to obey, putting her cloths neatly folded on the chair that was put there for that purpose. She thought she saw a glimps of amusement in the Red’s eye before she led Carina towards the first Arch. “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.”
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