July, 2000 


Sabine Ross


Tierney al'Casta

Gwenna Orostben



August Arches                         back to Library



  Sabine Ross
                    Mentee to Lorelia Sedai
                    Editor, Daes Dae'mar Newsletter

Sabine was almost asleep when she heard a quiet knock on the door. She stumbled out of bed to open the door. Quiet surprised to see he Phrygiana Sedai standing there.

Phrygiana Sedai motioned for her to follow her; she decided she had better do as she was told. As they walked she could tell they were walking down to the bottom of the part of the White Tower, she had never been here. Sabine wondered where they could be going at this time of night;
she sure hoped she was not in trouble. She probably would have asked if she was allowed to ask the Aes Sedai a question, but it was not allowed to speak before spoken to around here.

When they reached the bottom Phrygiana Sedai opened a door and she followed in. She was surprised to see Aes Sedai there, sitting on the floor at that and they all seemed to hold Saidar. She also noticed the big Arch in the center of the room, it finally dawned on her what was happening.

Phrygiana turned to her and began speaking. "Remove you clothes and set them on the bench there."

Sabine immediately removed her clothes and stood there naked in front of the Aes Sedai, waiting for what she was to do.

Phrygiana continued to speak. "Once you start through the rings, you must go all the way or you will be cast from the tower. You will see your deepest fears, and know real danger. The things that happen in the Ter'angreal are real. You must be steadfast to gain acceptance. You may turn back now and remain a novice until your next chance. Many can not go through the first time." She placed a hand on Sabine’s arm and guided her to the first arch. "The first time is for what was. The way back comes but once, be steadfast." She then gave Sabine a little push toward the arch.

Taking the clue she walked through.


She was sitting in a chair, which had velvet cushions on the bottom and the back; it was made of a wood with finely engravings on it. Her maid was brushing her hair, trying to get it up in some presentable style. Just at that moment her mother walked in and set down on the corner of the bed. The bed itself was a big massive thing, also wood and engraved with a canopy on it. Her mother spoke as she fingered the drippings on the bed.

"Your father expects you to be on your best behavior tonight at the ball. He wants to see where all his money for tutors has gone. I suggest you humor him. It would not do to embarrass him in front on the Queen and all."

Sabine looked shocked, her embarrass her father never. She loved him more than life itself. After all it was only her and her father, no wait her mother was here. That was strange but she could not recall why.

"Mother, I would never embarrass Father. How could you say such a thing?"

Her feelings were slightly hurt. Her father actually said for her to be on her best behavior, he liked it when she was straight forward, at least she thought he did. She was starting to get a headache thinking on all of this.

Her mother replied. "Dear, you embarrass your father every time you walk through that bedroom door. I just don't see why you can't be more like your little sister. If it was not for your looks, you would be in big trouble, for no man would want such a forward wife."

As her mother spoke Sabine rose and started walking toward her little desk, she was looking for some herbs to help with this headache. That was when she saw the silver arch shining in the wall. It came back to her then. "Be steadfast, the way back comes but once" she heard in her head. Turning toward the arch she started walking toward it, faintly hearing her mother in the background.

"Girl where are you going when I am speaking to you, get back her this instance." That was all she heard as she stepped through the arch.


As she came through the arch, she went to her knees and felt cold water being poured over her. An Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah was speaking.

"You are washed clean of any sin you may have done and those done against you."

Then Phrygiana Sedai had her arm again and was guiding her toward another arch.

"The second time is for what is. The way comes but once, be steadfast" Sabine then walked through the arch.


Sabine sat in a chair rocking; the chair was made of wood. You could tell the chair was made with love but it defiantly was not beautiful. She looked down at the sleeping baby in her arms and smiled. Standing and walking over to the bed she laid the baby down, and started prepare dinner. She was humming a little tune to herself and pulling out what she would need, when she heard the door open.

She swung around to greet her husband, She stepped back putting her hand to her mouth to stifle a gasp. She had expected to see a man that was tall, well over six foot and with red hair. Instead what she saw was a man of about six-foot with deep black hair that was a little to long with a beard and very well built. You would have to be living out in the woods. She ran and threw herself in his arms; this is where she felt the safest since her father had died. In her head she was trying to figure out why she had pictured him different, not knowing she just shook her head and tried to forget about it. She was happy here, just she and husband and their new little daughter.
Her husband pushed back at arms length and looked her over before saying

"Sabine are you okay, you looked a little shocked when I walked in. You have not over done yourself have you, you know you are to be resting."

He scooped her up in his arm and started walking for the bed. "I will finish dinner, you lay down with the baby and rest."

With that he deposited her, not even giving her a chance to speak. She lay back on the bed and drew the baby to her; she could hear her husband preparing dinner. Why did something not feel right? Maybe she had done too much, but she was used to working not being idle, and she was hallucinating. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, she then heard "be steadfast, the way comes but only once" She sat up immediately dislodging the baby as she went.

"Did you hear that?" She looked around for her husband.

"Hear what dear?" He asked as he prepared dinner.

She then saw a silver arch out the window, she was not totally sure why she should go to it but she did. Rising from the bed she headed for the front door, just at that moment the door banged open and there was a man standing there, garbed head to foot, in what some said the Aiel wore. Now this man was well over six foot and she could tell he had red hair, she felt drawn to him. He looked at her and they locked eyes, they both started walking toward each other. This is the same man she had pictured as she turned when her husband had walked through the door. Just as they reached each other, he stumbled and fell. Her husband had come up behind and stabbed him with a sword that they kept by the door. The stranger not being prepared had not expected it. Blood was quickly filling the floor.

"Sabine, go run, get somewhere safe" and he started to shove her out the door.

She looked and saw the arch, she started running for it. Halfway there she stopped and looked back. She could hear the baby crying the stranger had regained his feet and was fighting her husband, she started to turn back to help out. But who would she help she wondered, the stranger or her husband. She could see they were both down now and the baby was wailing at this point. She then heard it again. The way back comes but once, staring a moment longer she turned and ran for the arch, tears streaming down her face.


This time as she came through she had her hands to her face and was crying. She jumped when the cold water hit her, the barely heard the sister speaking.

"You are washed clean of false pride, you are washed clean of false ambition, you come to use washed clean in heart and soul." She was then walked to the third arch.

Phrygiana was speaking again. "This one is for what will be, be steadfast" She then walked through the arch. Hoping she would survive this one, she had betrayed a man she did not know as of yet in the last and her husband plus her newborn baby. Was this really real, she wondered.


She was sitting in a gold gilded chair, which had green velvet for a seat, this she had picked special, looking over the Angreal in her hand when she heard a knock in the door.

"Enter" she called out.

A novice stepped through the door and dropped a curtsey. She nodded her head at the girl for her to speak.

"Sabine Sedai, The Amyrlin has requested your presence in the great hall."
She waited for a response.

"I will be on my way child, thank you" She motioned with her hand for the girl to be dismissed.

Rising from the chair she walked over and grabbed her shawl that was fringed with Green, and put it around her shoulders. Glancing in the mirror, before leaving the room, to make sure her hair and dress were in order. She knew that most sister thought she would have chosen the brown because of her skill with making Angreal and discovering there uses. She had chosen green because being in the Battle Ajah suited her more. She straightened the Shawl and walked through the doors of the hall. There were sisters from every Ajah present; she dropped a curtsey to the Amyrlin.

"Mother, you asked to see me."

"Yes, child. We have this new Angreal that a person brought to us. Since you are the only Aes Sedai that can figure them out, I require that you take this and find what it does."

As she started walking toward the Amyrlin she saw the silver arch behind her. This time she knew what it was and what it was for. She looked from the Amyrlin to the Sitters of the hall, then back at the archway. She could feel through her bond that her warder was practicing and over all happy. She started for the arch, then stopped. Did she really want to give all this up, she was respected her, she was bonded to the man she cared for deeply. Sighing she picked up her skirts and ran for the arch was just as it was disappearing


She stumbled coming through the Arch and landed on her knees. She looked up as water was being poured from a cup, this time it was the Amyrlin that was speaking.

"You are washed clean of Sabine Ross of the House Drochiad. You are now Sabine Accepted of the White Tower."

Phrygiana Sedai was helping her to her feet and handing her a white dress with the colored bands at the bottom and cuffs of the sleeves. She took it and slipped it over her head. She was then handed a ring, it was a serpent biting its own tail.

That was when Phrygiana started talking. "You gave us all a scare child, we were not sure you would make it out of the last one. They were just closing the connection when you stepped out." She scooped up her belongings and handed them to Sabine. With that she turned and walked over to a couple other sisters.

Sabine walked back up to her room in stunned silence. It did not hit her until she lay down to sleep, then the tears started streaming out. As it all flooded back to her all she could do was hug herself and cry.



                    Accepted, Aspiring Brown
                    Other stuff

Leonora sat crosslegged on her bed, pasting her latest leaves into her flora diary. It had been a quiet day, and she was able to take a moment in the gardens to snag some clippings from a couple shrubs. She worked deftly, smoothing the leaves down and jotting her initial notes next to each sample. She would occasionally look up at Kab, who was either sleeping or spacing... Leo wasn't quite sure which.

Suddenly, the door opened, and Phrygiana Sedai walked in. "It is time, child."


She stood before the arches, slowly removing her clothes. The idea of taking this test, rumored so difficult, wasn't that frightening to Leonora. Knowing she could refuse did not matter... she wanted to be Accepted, she wanted to be Aes Sedai, and after growing up with two big brothers, she could deal with jumping in where she couldn't see the bottom. But being naked? Modesty was something she rarely scrimped on. Finally, she let her novice white flutter to the floor.

"The first trip is for what was. The way back will come but once," Phrygiana intoned. "Be steadfast."

Leonora stepped forward, stone floor cool beneath her feet. She entered the arch, excitement touching her breath, and all was light...


"Leonora, dear, hurry up! The contest is tonight!"

Leonora glanced up, the sun's light suddenly searing into her cheeks. How long have I been out here? she wondered, standing quickly and brushing the grass off of her coarse wool dress. She shielded her eyes as she looked towards the source of the voice, her farm, looking bright and fresh in the afternoon sun. "'Burn y'self to a crisp,'" she said softly, imaging the insults Joril would offer when he saw her sunburned cheeks. "I'll crisp you, bud."

Walking briskly towards the house, Leonora smiled. Despite the sunburns, it was a good day, a happy day, with the harvest coming up good and the quilting contest this evening. Yes, a good day.

She walked into the cool interior of the house, to be greeted with a glass of cool tea and a kiss from her mother. Elisa Tremaine beamed brightly at her daughter, love shining from her plain farm worker's face. "Took long enough, girl. Now come on, we'll get this finished in no time, and show Mistress al'Leof what Elisa Tremaine and her Leo can do. "Mother... you aren't supposed to be here. Leonora looked up, a frown crossing her brow. Of course her mother was supposed to be here. She sat down at the table and picked up the unfinished edging of the quilt. You're dead, Mother. I never knew you. The quilting fluttered to the ground.

"Is there something wrong, dear?"

Leonora looked at her mother, horror beginning to surface in her eyes. The way will come but once. "Mother... I..."

Suddenly, behind Elisa, the silver arch appeared. Be steadfast. "I... love you, Mother..." Leonora stood, tears blurring her eyes, and she ran for the arch. Her mother called her, crying out for her to stop... Leonora kept running into the light...


She stumbled through the arch, her knees weak. The tears from inside still pained her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. Staring at the Mistress of Novices, she said, "That thing lied to me. It lied. My mother died when I was born. It *lied*." A tear slipped down her cheek, and she swiped at it angrily. Phyrgiana looked at her with sympathy, but said nothing.

Leonora turned, and there was an Aes Sedai stood before her, pouring a chalice full of water over her head. "You are washed clean of what sin you may have done," she intoned, "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. "Crime? Leonora thought wildly, as she was guided towards the next arch. Her death was not my crime... I couldn't help being born! "The second time is for what is. The way will come but once. Be steadfast."

Leonora stepped through the light.


"Hey, are you okay?"

Leonora blinked quickly, and then looked at Taya. The Yellow sister was giving her the oddest look. "I'm sorry... I guess I just was woolgathering."

"Well, snap out of it, woman! It's about to happen!"

The two Aes Sedai hurried through the Tower at the most stately pace imaginable. Weaving through the hallways, they headed towards one of the balconies overlooking the Tower square. When they emerged into the Light, they looked down, seeing the ruckus below.

"They say this one laid waste to half of western Andor," Taya murmured, staring down at the cluster of sisters glowing with the Power. "They say his mind is long gone... That the taint has had him for several weeks. It's a wonder he's still alive."

Leonora peered down, anxious to catch a glimpse of the male channeler the sisters had brought in. "Can you see anything?"

"No, not rea-wait! They're parting..." The two women looked down, curious. Leonora strained her eyes trying to catch a glimpse of his face...

"Oh Light..." She knew him, though she had not seen him in a few years. Lined, tired, tanned, Patric Tremaine's face was the same it had always been.

But the eyes... Dead.

"Leo? What is it?"

"It's... my father." Leonora stared at him, feeling bleakness in her stomach. She knew he had to be gentled, knew that he would probably die because of the taint's spread. She loved him, but couldn't do anything for him... "Wait... Taya? Laid waste to half of Andor? Oh no..."

Before Taya could answer, Leonora ran downstairs. She rushed through the Tower, forgetting stately Aes Sedai posture, wanting to get to the square before the Reds were through with her da. Raem, Joril... Oh no... She knew she shouldn't have fallen out of touch, knew she should have sent home more often... If her father's madness had caused him to destroy her brothers... Raem, with his loving smile, Joril, with his mischievous pranks... Light... She rushed into the square, pushing her way past people, pushing her way to the circle surrounding her father. "Father! It's Leonora! Father!"

He looked up, and though his eyes were dying, he knew her. She *saw* it in him. "Father! Where are the boys? Father, for the love of the Light, what happened to my brothers?" His eyes spoke sadness, but his reply was lost in the din. Leonora fought to get to him, but the people began clustering around her. It got harder, and harder... The way will come but once... She paused, looking to her right. A silver arch appeared. Be steadfast... She looked at her father, at his surrender, at the answers that lay on his lips... And rushed through the arch.


Her bare feet skidded on the floor as she hurtled out. This time, the tears flowed freely. That her brothers might be dead, killed by her insane father... "I have to write home, I have to find out if they are okay..." She began to rush for the exit, but Phrygiana stopped her. "Just one more. One more, and you'll be finished."

Leonora stared at her, her eyes wild. "One..."

The water poured over her head, this time by a solemn looking White. "You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."

Leonora stared at the third arch, her heart pulsing. Gone was that sense of cocky eagerness, replaced by fear, and sadness. "One more?"

"Yes," the Mistress of Novices said. "One more, and it is the worst. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

Swallowing her fear, Leonora stepped through.


"You dare block Aes Sedai, when Tar Valon is in plain view?" Leonora stood in her saddle, using the Power to magnify her voice.

"The Children have sway here, and all places where the Light is, or should be. And you are a Tar Valon witch. I will not let you pass." The Whitecloak stood self-importantly in her path, his rank marked merely by one golden knot, superiority all over his frame.

Leonora sighed inwardly, wishing she had at least one more soul with her. Minutes from the Shining Walls, and she had to be impeded by this small minded fool. "I am passing. Good day, sir." She began to ride up the path, planning on pushing him out of the way if need be, when a voice boomed behind her.

"Halt, witch, in the name of the Light!"

Leonora turned, and gasped. The Inquisitor behind her stood with sword drawn, with hate and insanity in his eye. But that was not what chilled her heart.

His face.

"Raem? What.... why?"

Her brother sneered, making the smile he used to have for her a memory long since past. "You are a witch, but there is one way to bring you to the Light..." He raised his sword, and pointed it at her. "Come to me willingly, and I'll make it quick. I can do that for you, at least."

Leonora opened her mouth to voice angry protest, but before she could, sudden movement to the left caught her eye. Three Warders streamed towards Raem, in the hopes of protecting her. Leonora could see in the distance two sisters, one of the Brown, who were riding hard for her 'rescue'. She turned to the fight, just in time to see one of the Gaidin cut Raem deep. He fell to the ground, gasping, as the fight raged on around him.

Leonora leaped off of her horse, running for her brother, ignoring the fight. She fell to her knees beside him, and cradled his head.

"Why didn't you send word, Leo?" He spluttered, blood dribbling down his chin. "I missed you... so..." Leonora felt tears drip down her cheeks as she screamed for one of the sisters to come... One of them might be able to heal him, one of them might be able to save him, no matter how screwy he was...The way back will come but once... The arch appeared, shimmering in the sunlight.

"No!" she cried, tears flowing harder. "I will not leave him again!"

"Leo... please... don't leave me again..."Be steadfast... Sobbing, Leonora gently lay her brother's head on the ground and ran for the arch.


She burst out of the arches, and crumpled to her knees. Without uttering a word, she cried, cried for her brother, her family, all that she had left behind. After a moment, she looked up, wiping the tears from her eyes, only to have them replaced. The Amyrlin herself stood there, flanked by sisters from each Ajah. She poured the water over Leonora's head for the last time, intoning, "You are washed clean of Leonora Tremaine from Andor. 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 Leonora Tremaine, Accepted of the White Tower." The Amyrlin helped Leonora up, and gave her a warm smile. "You are sealed to us, now."

Leonora felt her knees go shaky as sisters handed her a banded Accepted's dress and slipped the ring on the third finger of her right hand. She dressed slowly, her mind fuzzed. All she wanted to do was go back to her room, curl up into bed, and cry. That, and write a letter home.




  Tierney al'Casta

                    Procrastinating Accepted of the WT

                    Aspiring Yellow

  "Stupid grease..." Tierney muttered to herself as she struggled with one of the dirtier pots in the kitchen. "Why couldn't I be peeling potatoes or something?"

Tier spun around as another pot clattered to the floor behind her. Bending to pick it up, a woman's figure approached her. "It is time. Come with me." Looking up into the woman's face, she recognized her to be none other than Phrygiana Sedai, Mistress of Novices.

Placing the pot on a nearby counter, Tierney followed...


Tierney had dazed off into her own world as she entered a large room with three tall arches in the middle. Phrygiana spoke with one of the shawled sisters that were scattered about the room. Knowing it was rude to listen-in, Tierney stayed in her own daze until she heard the word 'fear'. Tier had many fears, but was able to handle most of them fairly well. Then everything clicked. This is what she had been told about so many times before. Her Acceptance testing... The Three Arches.

Following Phrygiana to the first arch, she carefully removed and folded her Novice dress, placing it on the ground beside her.

"The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." The MoN offered a small smile, noticeable only if one was looking for it, and Tierney entered her first arch, heart racing...


"Tier! Hey Tier!! You done yet?!?" Bryare's voice rung in Tierney's ears. Grabbing two cookies off the counter and kissing her father on the cheek, she ran out the door.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!!" The smile on Tierney's face grew as she rushed out the bakery door and down the street, her best friend not far behind.

When they reached the end of the street, the two girls slowed to a walk. Tierney passed one of the cookies to Bryare and took a seat under a nearby tree.

"So how was business today?" Bry asked between bites.

"The usual. Not too busy at all. If things don't pick up, Father says he might have to sell the bakery." Tier sighed. "Well, at least Mother..." her words were cut off as a stone came flying towards her, connecting with the side of her head.

Bry jumped up and grabbed Tier's hand, pulling her to her feet. "Run, Tier! I'll take care of it!" Tierney hesitated only a moment before running towards her house. She could hear footsteps running after her as more stones flew past her, only a few ever reaching their target.

Tier fell to the ground as one of the larger rocks struck her. Tears streamed down her face as the faint memory of a gentle voice came forward. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast. Trying to pull herself to her feet, she caught glimpse of a shimmering white doorway, and wondered where Bryare was. "BRY! C'MON!" she didn't understand how, but she knew that that doorway would lead to safety. Catching sight of her best friend lying on the ground, Tier screamed at the top of her lungs. "BRY!" Be steadfast. The stone-wielding boy ran towards her, and Tier raced for the door, sobbing.


stumbling over her own feet, she fell to the ground as cold water was poured over her head. "You are washed clean of what sin you may have done, and of those done against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may have committed and of those committed against you. You come to us washed clean and pure, in heart and soul."

A slightly worried look crossed Phrygie's face as she led her to the second arch as whispered in her ear, "you can turn back and try again later if you wish." Tierney shook her head and stepped up to the second arch.

"The second time is for what is," she said. "The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

Tier took a deep breathe and stepped through the arch...


"Well, well... if it isn't little miss baker's daughter! Back for more, are you?" A familiar voice pierced through Tierney's thoughts as a young man approached. She recognized the him as one of the many that used to tease her not so long ago. Attempting to calm herself, she took a deep breath before bolting down the empty street towards her father's bakery.

"Father!" Tier called as she rushed through the door. She watched as a young man emerged from the back room. "May I help you?" he asked kindly. Tier guessed he couldn't have been much older than her, perhaps a year or two. What's he doing here? And why does he look so familiar? "I'm looking for my father." she replied, her suspicion not held back.

"Your father? I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong building..." the boy's words were cut off as a slightly aged man opened the front door.

"How's business been, Aradan?" Tier paused before turning around. She knew that voice. It had been a little while, but she knew it.

"Not bad, Mr. al'Casta. We had..." Aradan's words were cut off as Tierney let out an ear-piercing screech. "Father!" embracing him in a hug, the aged man pushed her away, grabbing at his side.

"Tierney?!? You're back?!"

"Of course, Father! I was going to go home, but those boys were out there again, and since I was so close to the bakery, I figured I'd just... Father? Who's this guy?" she asked, pointing to the young man.

"I am Aradan. You're Father hired me to help out around the bakery after you left."

"But Father, you knew I'd be back soon." A wave of confusion swept over Tierney. I only wanted to go home and change... She stood there a moment, silently waiting for something... she was uncertain what, exactly, but she knew it wouldn't be long...

Tier's Father grasped his side again. "Father, are you alright? What happened?"

Aradan firmly gripped Tierney's shoulder. "Go home, Tierney. You have no business here." A cold shiver swept through her body as the sound of his voice entered her ears.

"Wait. Aradan. You... you were one of the boys!" A cruel smirk appeared on the boy's face.

"Go home, Tierney..." he whispered coldly. "Your father will be just fine. I'll take care of him..."

A loud thump caught Tierney's attention and she spun around just in time to see her father fall to the ground. "FATHER!" Rushing to his side, a voice entered her thoughts. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast. Through the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a glowing doorway. Her father's breath came shorter and shorter.

"You did this!" Tier pointed an accusing finger at Aradan.

"I assure you, I don't have any idea what you're talking about!" he replied, not attempting to hide the vicious smirk on his face. Be steadfast... The voice rang in Tierney's head, over and over with growing urgency. The doorway began to fade and she took one last look at her rapidly dying father before choking out the words "I love you" between sobs, and bolting for the door.


Once again, she was met with a shower of cold water being poured over her head. "You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."

Tears streamed down her face as she looked up at the Mistress of Novices. "Phrygiana?" She whispered. "Tell me it isn't true. It didn't really happen, did it?" The MoN simply sighed and let her to the third arch, a look of sympathy on her face.

"The third time is for what will be. The way back comes but once. Be steadfast." Tierney took another deep breath before entering her final arch.


"Light, Tierney! I just wish you'd stop pulling such senseless stunts! At this rate, you'll wind up in the infirmary for life!"

Tier giggled as her Warder chased her through the gardens, screaming after her the entire way.

"You're not a Novice anymore! You can't be pulling these type of pranks! Light, you're not even an Accepted! You should be setting an example for the newbies!!!"

Tierney stopped to sit under a tree, breathless. "Oh, relax! You act as if I've just killed 20 people!" she began to laugh.

"Look, I just don't think you should be playing these type of jokes... on anyone... especially not me!"

"You're just upset 'cuz I actually finally got back at you for the whole re-arranged room thing!" Tier giggled again. "Okay, I'm sorry. You alright?"

"Of course I am. I just..." Tierney held up her hand to silence him.

"You heard that too, right?"

The Warder nodded. "Yeah. Wait here, I'll go check it out." Just as he rose to his feet to investigate the sound, a large black object came flying straight towards Tierney.

He jumped in front of it, pushing Tier out of harm's way. "Run Tier! I'll take care of it!" The familiar words struck a stubborn cord inside Tierney, and she ran to help him as three masked men emerged from behind the trees. The way back comes but once. Be steadfast. The words sounded in Tierney's mind, as she caught glimpse of a sparkling white doorway.

Tier started for the door, when she heard her Warder let out an outraged scream and turned back to help him. "Run, Tier! Light, will you listen to me?!?!"

"No, I can't let anything happen to you!" she cried, to which he responded, "Just go! I'll be fine! "Be steadfast. The doorway flickered and began to fade quickly. Glancing one last time at her Warder, she ran for the door, just barely making it through.


A final waterfall poured over her head, as she heard the words, You are washed clean of Tierney from Andor. 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 Tierney, Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us, now."

Tierney wiped away her remaining tears and slipped into her new dress, fitting her ring onto her finger, and made her way to her room in silence...



  Gwenna Orostben

For some reason she could not understand, Gwenna felt the urgent need to return to the small room in the Novices’ Quarters that she shared with Mordaan. Leaving the party in Sabine’s room, she headed there with great haste, barely noting that there were few others walking along the halls. Head down, she barreled down corridors until she reached her room. Opening the door, she threw herself down on the bed, hoping to get some rest. The feeling that something was wrong, or that maybe she was in trouble, did not leave her. She closed her eyes and eventually her breath slowed to the smooth, steady rate of slumber.

Her dreams were erratic, wavering rapidly to and fro between happiness and bright colors and darkness and fear. Images, not staying long enough to be identified properly, flashed through the color and the darkness, seemingly at random. Still permeating her sleep was the insistent feeling that something was different–or wrong.

Gwenna slammed back into the waking world at the touch on her shoulder, gasping for air like she had been drowning. Wide-eyed, she looked into the serene face of Phyrgiana, the Mistress of Novices, who released the shoulder she had been gently shaking and said “Come. It is time.” Without another word, Phyrgiana turned and walked out the door. Groggily, Gwenna stood, and followed. Knowing now the source of her feeling of foreboding was of no help. As the weight of grogginess left her mind, anticipation and, she admitted to herself, fear grew. The haze of sleep abruptly left her mind as she began to steel herself for what she now knew was to come.

She had been told what to expect and what to do. Still, her arrival in the room below the tower with the three arches surrounded by shawled sisters was still a shock to the system.

“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” said one of the sisters in the room, the one standing by a table which carried three chalices, which Gwenna knew contained water. It had begun.

“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister,” replied Phyrgiana.
“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 her fears.”

On cue, Gwenna removed the white Novice dress and stood straight and tall, despite the fact her insides felt like they were turning to jelly. With outward calm barely containing the roiling emotions just below the surface, she faced the arches.

“The first time is for what was,” said Phyrgiana. “The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.” Gwenna, taking a deep breath as though she were about to dive underwater, went through the first arch.

The familiar sound of her mother’s laughter assailed her as she walked into the house. Smells of freshly baked bread permeated the small, but happy dwelling. Her mother looked up from the beans she was snapping the ends off of and smiled at her when she came into the kitchen. “I have the most wonderful news, Gwenna! Your aunt Tella is about to give birth–any day now, really, and your Father has agreed that we should head up there so we can help out around the farm and the house. So, you are going to stay with your grandmother at the Lilypad, while we travel to their farm. It should be only a couple of weeks, but you won’t mind, will you?” Her mother smiled again. She knew how much Gwenna enjoyed staying at the inn, with all of those interesting people coming in and out, and all of the excitement of the common room. Gwenna smiled and reached for a bean, already looking forward to her stay at her Grandmother’s. Two days later found her standing in the entryway of the Lilypad, waving and watching her parents drive away in the family cart, their horse Dusty pulling the cart through the busy traffic.

A week later her grandmother was sobbing in the next room. A man was speaking with her grandmother. Quietly, she snuck to the doorway of the kitchen to listen to what the man was saying. “...there was nothing I could do, mother. It was awful.” The man’s voice shook and she now identified her Father. “Oh Light mother....there was so much blood!” Gwenna’s grandmother sat quietly at the table with her hands pressed into the wood as if to hold them steady, and a constant stream of tears ran down her face and dripped onto the tabletop, unnoticed. Gwenna’s father was hysterical now, his voice rising in volume with each word. It was plainly obvious he was losing what little control he had. “We had nothing worth robbing us for! Nothing! And they.....they....cut her down like it was nothing and held me there and made me watch.” Gwenna’s Father buried his head in his hands and started rocking back and forth, moaning and mumbling to himself. She could see he was covered in grime, his clothing torn in many places and his hands and face and clothes were all spotted with what looked like dried red dirt. But Gwenna knew it was blood, her mother’s blood.

Her grandmother finally noticed her standing woodenly in the doorway and looked down at the tabletop, shaking her head. With a tired gesture, she motioned Gwenna to come to her and watched her slow progress, tears still pouring unheeded from her eyes. Slowly she wrapped her arms around the child Gwenna and held on tight while she said painfully “Its your mother, child. Some vagabonds tried to rob your parents and your mother....your mother...” grandmother’s shoulders heaved up and down with the force of her sobs. “She’s gone, Gwenna.”

Gwenna’s father stood, dejectedly looking down at his daughter, his only child. Gently he reached out and curled a tendril of her hair around his finger, studying it like it was the most important thing in the world. Gwenna looked up into her father’s eyes and saw nothing in them. He was gone, lost to her in his grief. He took a few steps away from Gwenna and her grandmother, and unsheathed the simple, unadorned dagger that he always carried. Slowly, slowly he raised it in front of himself, sobs wracked his body as he looked down at Gwenna and said “I’m so sorry honey, so sorry about your mama. Light, I love her so.” Gwenna’s grandmother pushed Gwenna away and made surprisingly agile leap for an old woman for the dagger in her son’s hands, but fell short and landed on the floor with a thud and a grunt as the air was knocked out of her. Gwenna put her hands to her head and began screaming, a wordless bloodless shriek. Just at that moment, a doorway opened just to the left of her father, shimmering and out of place in the kitchen. The dagger in her father’s hands began its downward swoop toward his abdomen The way out will come but once. She could not make herself move. If she could only move she could stop that dagger and save her Father from himself. The way out will come but once, she heard in the back of her mind. “Father! Nooooo!” she screamed as she threw herself forward....

And landed on the floor in the chamber. For a moment she lay curled up in a fetal ball choking on sobs and shivering on the cold, rough stone floor. Slowly coming back to the here and now, she turned, and resting on her hands and knees started breathing, deep breaths to calm herself. After a couple of minutes she got slowly, shakily to her feet and faced the Aes Sedai with the chalice, which the Sister poured over her head. “You are washed clean of what sin you may have done, and of those done against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may have committed and of those committed against you. You come to us washed clean and pure, in heart and soul.”

Phyrgiana took Gwenna by the arm and gently led her to the next arch. “The second time is for what is,” she said. “ The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.” Gwenna stepped through the arch.....

And into the common room of the Lilypad Inn. Looking down at herself, she saw the white apron and a silver tankard she was in the midst of polishing was in her hands. The common room was quiet in the midday, almost peaceful as she worked alone. A thumping noise came down the hall that led to the living area for the innkeeper, which consisted of herself and her beloved old grandmother. The steady thump, thump, thump was Daila’s cane that she had to use now to get around. Smiling to herself, Gwenna looked toward the hall as her grandmother came tottering out of it to check the common room–like she did every day since Gwenna had come back to run the place. It had been hard at times, running an inn at such a young age, and single too, but the inn had been prosperous under her grandmother’s hand and was rebounding from the time it had stood closed, until Gwenna could leave the Tower and come to take over. The accident that had blinded her grandmother had been sudden–a kitchen accident, but it had put an end to Gwenna’s time in the Tower. She barely remembered what it was like in Tar Valon now, she had become so entrenched in her life here, in Caemlyn. “Grandmother,” she called out. “Over here.” Her grandmother followed the sound of her voice until she reached the bar, which Gwenna was standing behind. The way out will come but once. Gwenna shook her head. This was her home.

“Ah, child, how are things today?” asked her grandmother, casting her blind gaze around the common room like she could actually see how many customers were in there.

“Things are just fine, Grandmother. We are having a gleeman tonight, so the place should be full to the rafters. And a good stew for dinner besides.” Her grandmother was particularly fond of the meat stew with potatoes and pearl onions.

Suddenly, a group of men walked into the common room, roughly dressed and muttering angrily amongst themselves. There had been some problems lately with street toughs in the area, and Gwenna had a large, thick wooden dowel behind the bar which she grasped now with her right hand, putting a friendly proprietor’s smile on her face. Looking directly at the men she smiled and said “What can we do for you today, gentlemen?” The man in front of the group of five spit on the ground in front of him and said something to the effect of “dirty Tar Valon witch.” The others laughed in response and kept advancing toward the bar. “We heard there was a witch innkeeper here, but we didn’t know she were so pretty,” the lead man said with a sneer. He walked the rest of the way to the bar and backhanded her grandmother, who fell to the floor with a crash. Out of the corner of her eye, Gwenna saw a shining arch shimmering The way back comes but once. Chuckling, the man reached out to grab Gwenna saying, “Come ‘ere, pretty little thing,” and Gwenna pulled the stout stick out from behind the bar and smashed the man’s fat head, but good. He gasped, and put his hand to his head where the gash started bleeding, and told the other four “Get ‘em.” One of the men started menacing toward her blind grandmother who was still on the floor, cowering from what she could not see. The rest came for Gwenna.

“Don’t leave me, child.” her grandmother called out suddenly. “Don’t LEAVE ME!!!!!”

Gwenna ran toward the archway and straight through it....

Back into the room. Another chalice poured on her head. “You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul.”

Gwenna was pale and shaking. What happened in there seemed so real, so lifelike. Phyrgiana turned her to the final arch and said “Do you wish to continue? No one will force you to enter a third time.” What Gwenna really wanted to do was to throw up everything she had ever eaten, but she nodded, none to steady on her feet. “Let’s get this done,” she said bitterly.

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

Gwenna threw herself at the third arch.

The Blight was all around them, sticky and rank with its corruption. Gwenna was exhausted from fighting off Trollocs and Fades and worse. The wound in her side ached and burned as she could not Heal herself and there were no other Sisters to be found within several days’ journey. It seemed like months since they had been forced into the Blight, fleeing an enormous Trolloc horde that had descended on Shienar. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, leaving the peace of Caemlyn, where Gwenna was advisor to the Queen, and coming to the Borderlands to study the Blight in action and learn a bit about the ways of the Borderland people–it was always good to know what a people were like, just in case you had to negotiate a treaty with them someday. But things had taken a surprising turn as Trollocs poured out of the Blight in astonishing numbers, threatening to overwhelm the armies amassed to defend.

She had been trying to get out, and head toward Tar Valon, when they had been cut off by several fists of Trollocs. Gwenna had tried to scare them away, but to no avail. Then an arrow had flown true from the bow of one of the Darkfriends running with the Trollocs, striking her low, on the left hand side of her abdomen. Lucky for her, just a regular arrow or she would have been dead by now. The 150 Shienarans that had come with her had dwindled to about fifty. In her weakened state she was unable to channel for more than a few minutes and if another attack came, she would have to rely on those 50 soldiers and her Warder, Ahron, for protection instead of the other way around. She was weaving in the saddle, sweat clung to her brow. They had been angling ahead of their pursuers, trying to lead them up into the Blight and then run in front of them down out of the Blight to the army that was supposed to be just on the other side of the border. So far, the plan was working, but they were tired and moving slowly at this point and it sounded like the horde was gaining. They might not make it–time might be too short.

Behind them, on the rise they just left, came the horde, a milling mass of bodies, resembling refugees from a kicked anthill. Several Fades drove the horde before them. Time was running out. The way out comes but once. Gwenna shook her head, unsure of where the voice came from and the words meant nothing to her. Ahron pulled up next to her, looking worriedly over at his Aes Sedai who looked like she was about to fall out of her saddle. “They have us, I’m afraid.” He told her. He did not look afraid to die, but was worried about her safety. “You will have to ride on ahead, and the Shienaran’s and I will hold them if we can.”

“No” she replied. “I can channel. I will help.”
“Look at you, about to fall off your horse,” Ahron sneered. “You couldn’t hold off a spring breeze right now, much less what we have coming up behind us. You will be of more help if you escape and make it back to the army, where there are Sisters to Heal you. If you do not, Gwenna, you will die. Your death will in no way help the Shienarans. Don’t be a fool.”

It was a mark of her exhaustion that she did not argue with her Warder, for they often sparred verbally, and it was hard to tell who was the victor at times. She knew him to be right. She did not want to send those men to their deaths, but there was little else to be done. And Ahron–he could take care of himself, she knew that after all of these years. The way out will come but once.

Finally, she acquiesced. “It will be as you say, Ahron. I will go. Take care of yourself.” Looking up, she saw the Shienarans turning to face the horde, swords and bows at the ready. The milling, evil mass was nearly upon them. Turning slightly to her right, she saw the doorway, shimmering in the morning sunshine. The way out will come but once. She turned to ride away, but could not force herself to leave. The two forces met, and the Shienaran line broke almost immediately from the Trolloc onslaught. Two fades surrounded her Warder, and he defended, sword flashing in the early morning light. He did not see the third come up from behind him, the third of a triangle of Fades surrounding him. Tainted steel slid into his back and out through his stomach, and he stopped fighting for just a moment, a look of surprise on his face as he felt the steel drive home.

Gwenna booted Arrow forward to go to him, and heard again The way out will come but once. She couldn’t leave her Warder. She had brought him here and his death would be on her hands. She would use the last of her strength to Heal him and give him a chance to survive. At that moment she felt her brave Warder meet death’s open arms and it felt like the world was tearing itself apart. Screaming, she threw herself from Arrow’s back and crawled on hands and knees to the doorway. Maybe there she could escape the perfect agony inside of her. The pain of the death of her Warder shrunk the agony of the gash in her side to nothing, a mere pinpoint of light to the light of the sun. Oh, Light! She had killed her Warder with her foolishness. Crawling, agonizingly slow and sobbing, she reached the doorway and crawled through....

And collapsed in a shivering heap on the cold stone floor. Agony receded as the realization that it was not real sunk into her tired mind. There were many Aes Sedai in the room, including the Amyrlin. Slowly, painfully she stood and faced them walking forward with hate blazing in her eyes for what had been done to her on this day. Bitter determination strengthened her spine, and pride made her rise her head. They would not see her broken.

As the chalice was raised and poured over her head, she barely heard the ceremonial words she had been waiting to hear for a very long time. “You are washed clean of Gwenna Orostben from Caemlyn. You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean in heart and soul. You are Gwenna Orostben, Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us, now.” She took no pleasure in donning the white dress, banded on the hem with the colors of the seven Ajahs, nor in slipping the Great Serpent ring over her finger.

Gwenna left the room as soon as allowed and went back to the room that she would share with Mordaan no longer. She sat in the corner of her bed, up against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest and cried for all of the death and pain that had come to her thus far in life and would follow her throughout, it seemed. She did not realize she was babbling incoherently and hysterically to herself and rocking back and forth on the bed.

She had achieved a heady goal, but had never felt so alone in her life.

Gwenna Orostben