Arches     

May, 2000 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyria Morant

Rinoa, First arch

 

 

 

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   Kyria Morant

                      Accepted                     

                      Aspiring Gray

 

There was a knock at Kyriaís door and Reile Sedai, her mentor, entered. "It is time, Kyria are you ready?" Kyria smiled tentatively and stepped towards the door. She slipped her small cold hand into Reileís warm one and her mentor gave it a reassuring squeeze. "It will not be easy, but you are a strong girl and I have every confidence in you." They made their way deeper and deeper into the Tower until they reached a pair of large, wooden doors. Reile pushed the doors open easily and Kyria saw a huge domed chamber that looked as though it had been carved into the rock. The room was lit by soft lamplight and her eyes locked on the three silver rings linked together in the center of the room. Where the rings met an Aes Sedai sat cross-legged on the ground, focused on the rings. Reile had joined Lauralina Sedai and Dallah Sedai and once she settled a glow of Saidar surrounded all three women and an answering glow grew in the TeríAngreal. Kyria felt a soft touch on her arm and turned to face Phrygiana Sedai, the Mistress of Novices. "Each girl who faces this test is given three chances. You can refuse to start twice but should you refuse a third time you will be put out of the Tower forever. Once you begin you must go on to the end. If you refuse at any point you will be put out of the Tower. Do you understand? Kyria nodded and then remembering what Reile had told her on the way down, she slipped her dress and shift off. The floor was cold under her bare feet and she shivered slightly. She followed Phrygiana to where Karana Sedai was standing beside a small table with three silver chalices upon it. Karanaís face was serious as she spoke
"Whom do you bring with you, Sister?"
"One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister," replied Phrygiana.
"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."
Phrygiana turned to Kyria, "The first time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." Kyria took a deep breath and stepped through the first glowing arch and the light surrounded her and swallowed her utterly.

She looked around her motherís kitchen. Her parents were regarding her with a mixture of anger, pride and sympathy. "You donít have to do this, my daughter. We will find another way." Her fatherís voice wavered as he spoke and a lump rose in Kyriaís throat. "We have been through this, Pa and there is no other way to ensure that Brandyl is released. Davin knows what he is doing." There was a loud knock at the door and Kyria grabbed her cloak as she made her way through the hall to answer it. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin before pulling the door open. The smug smile on Davinís face made her stomach clench and it took all her self-restraint not to launch herself at him and claw his face with her fingernails. She forced her hands to relax and turned to look at her parentís one last time. They were both crying but she could find no words to comfort them. She felt hollow inside. How had things come to this? Kyria had realized quite quickly that Davin was a weak-minded, vicious man but he had determined he would have Kyria as his wife. Her eldest brother, Brandyl, had been goaded into attacking Davin, who came from a family of much great power and rank than House Morant, and had been imprisoned as a result. The memory of Davin grinning in triumph as he promised her Brandylís freedom as a wedding gift was seared into her mind and she shuddered. Davin boosted her up onto his horse and climbed up behind her. They rode through the streets of Cairhien to his fatherís estates and Kyria swallowed convulsively in an effort not to be sick as they approached the gates. His family were gathered for the wedding ceremony but the only attendant for Kyria was Brandyl, standing alone with his hands tightly bound. She stood before the official who was there to conduct the service and she bit her lip hard, swearing to herself that the man beside her would never see her cry. The service began but Kyria barely heard a word. A shining archway appeared behind the official and a voice whispered "The way back will come back once. Be steadfast." Instinctively, she stepped towards the glowing arch. "No Kyria! You will never escape me." Davin yelled as he reached for her arm but she evaded his grasp and took another step forward. "I will kill him if you leave me. You are mine and I will have you for my wife!" She looked back over her shoulder and Davin had a dagger pressed to her brothersí throat. "Light, Brandyl, no.." Kyria turned back. "Be steadfast." "Iím sorry," she said softly and ran towards the light. As the glow enveloped her she heard he brother scream in agony and Davinís mad laughter filled her brain.

Kyria staggered through the arch, retching and sobbing. A flow of icy cold water was poured over her head as Karana spoke "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." Kyriaís sobs subsided as the water flowed over her and she looked at Phrygiana who smiled with some sympathy as she led Kyria to the next ring. "The second time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." Kyria forced her feet to move and she stepped into the blinding light.

She looked down, relieved to see pale gray silk, for a fleeting moment she had thought she was naked. A ridiculous idea that just went to show how nervous she was. This was her first negotiation alone and she was determined it would be settled successfully. It would be fairly straightforward, the two parties were quietly resolved to settle matters but Kyria had to ensure neither side lost face. She took a deep breath and the mask of composure settled over her face. Forcing her hands to relax, she stepped through the door into the meeting room. The two parties were eyeing each other warily across the table. She took her seat at the head of the table and clasped her hands together lightly. "Gentlemen, we have discussed this matter separately and you are aware of each others stance." The two men facing each other nodded once and Kyria resisted licking her dry lips nervously. These were two of the most powerful Lords in Tear and their feud was legendary. If they did not agree today, they could plunge the entire nation into a bitter and bloody civil war. "Lord Harren, you have offered to yield the disputed land," Kyria paused and the stout man ran a hand through his greying hair before muttering his assent. "In return, Lord Merck you will pay 500 gold crowns a year for the next five years and will have free access across the land to his estates. In addition you have agreed to wed your only daughter to Lord Harrenís son, Glynen." The words were barely from Kyriaís lips when Lord Merck slammed his fist onto the table and roared in fury, "You said it would be the elder son, Antin! Why would I marry my only heir to the youngest son of this greedy dog? Did you think I am so stupid I would let you steal my lands without surrendering anything in return?? Equal rule over both our estates you said, Kyria Sedai! You have taken the side of this devious snake." Merckís face was flushed with rage as he fumbled for his sword. Lord Harren drew his own blade and the two men faced each other with naked hatred burning in their eyes. An archway filled with golden light appeared next to the table as Kyria gasped in horror at the scene before her. "The way back will come but once. Be steadfast. "She had said the wrong name! How could she have made such a stupid mistake? "Gentlemen, hold your swords I beg you. I have made a mistake but we can resolve thisÖ" her voice trailed off as Harren slashed at Merck and a line of red appeared on the Lordís cheek. The men who had escorted the lords drew their weapons and attacked each other. Kyria slumped into her chair, she had failed utterly. Be steadfast" In a desperate bid to escape the bloodshed before her, she flung herself through the white arch and the light scoured her.

She dropped to her knees in the domed hall and shuddered "All those deaths, I have destroyed the peace of a nation," she croaked. A stream of cold water roused her and Karana spoke in a clear voice. "You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul." Kyria forced herself to stand although she wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and cry until the end of time. Phrygiana smoothed her hair from her forehead. "One more, child and it is done." Kyria bit her lip and nodded. She would not fail; she wanted that serpent ring too much to turn away now. "The third time is for what will be. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." Kyria stepped through the final arch and the light devoured her.

Kyria stretched and opened her eyes. The man in her bed still slept and she smoothed a finger down his tanned cheek. There were lines on his face and his hair was liberally flecked with gray. His still firm body was marked with nicks and scars, each one gained to protect her. His eyes flicked open and he smiled at her. Even after twenty years together, Aes Sedai and Warder, lovers, friends, Kyria still felt a thrill when their eyes met. They came together in a warm embrace and kissed softly. The door burst inwards and Kamal rolled from the bed, his sword in his hand. There were more than a dozen fully armed young soldiers filling the doorway. "Take him," a harsh female voice spoke from beyond the room and the young men eyed the naked Warder warily. Kamal smiled without humor and turned his sword once in his hand. It was a reflex action she had seen a thousand times. Kyria reached for the source, ready to defend them both and suppressed a whimper of fear when she hit a solid wall between her and Saidar. "I am shielded, Kamal," she spoke quietly, determined to keep her voice steady. Her Warder grunted and stepped towards the soldiers. Kyria scrambled from the bed and grabbed a pair of daggers from where Kamalís kit lay. She joined him as naked and uncaring as her Warder, as he faced the young men. Over the years, Kamal had taught her to fight with knives and even with her hands and feet a little. She was shielded, but not defenseless. The attack was swift and savage and five of the soldiers lay dead before Kyria felt a blade at her throat. Kamal froze and lowered his bloody sword. He was bleeding from several shallow wounds, but he barely seemed to register them. His entire focus was on Kyria and she flinched as a soldier clubbed him to his knees and bound him tightly. The pressure of the sword was removed from her throat and she struck, plunging her dagger into the guard who staggered back clutching the knife in his throat. Her arms were pulled roughly behind her back and held there. Kamal was smiling at her proudly and her heart swelled. "My little lioness," he said as though they were the only two in the room. Kyria laughed, it was a name he had given her when they had first met - she a Novice and he a Ward in training. A harsh voice cut across her thoughts and her attention was drawn to the tall, plain woman in the doorway. "Elsbeth? No, I donít believe it." Kyria threw all her mental strength at the shield the tall woman held over her. "I donít understand we are friends. Why would you attack us like this?" The tall woman bared her teeth, "Friends? I hate you Kyria Morant. You with your pretty face and easy manner. Taking pity on the shy, ugly girl, letting me bask in your reflective glory. You have patronized me for the last time. Once you are stilled and returned to the Tower in disgrace, I will become the Kingís advisor." A gleam of triumph sparked in the other womanís face as Elsbeth stepped up to Kamal and stroked his cheek. "You shouldíve taken me to your bed when I asked," she said, bitterness and longing filling her voice. "I was sworn to my Kyria before you ever joined the Tower, Elsbeth Sedai. Even had I not been, I could never have accepted your offer." The plain woman struck him hard across the mouth. A glowing archway appeared in the wall and Kyria felt drawn towards it. "The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." Elsbeth turned to her "You will pass your bond to me, before you are stilled. That is the only way your pet wolf here will live." She grabbed the knife that Kyria had dropped and held it to Kamalís chest. "Choose now, will he live or die for your pride?" The hatred twisted the womanís face into a mask and sickened Kyria, but she could not force herself to move. Kamal suddenly reared back and plunged himself onto the dagger held at his chest. His eyes were locked onto Kyriaís face and she felt his death echo through their bond. She stepped towards him and the glowing arch caught her eye again. With a scream of rage and pain she flung herself through the arch and the light consumed her.

She staggered from the archway into the hall and Phrygiana caught her before she collapsed. The pain and loss engulfed her, threatening to rip her mind to shreds. A flood of cold water was poured over her, washing the pain away. "You are washed clean of Kyria Morant from Cairhien. 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 Kyria Morant, Accepted of the White Tower." Kyria was startled to hear a voice other than Karana and she gazed in awe at the Amyrlin Seat as she emptied the final drop of water onto her head and said "You are sealed to us, now." The glow from the TeríAngreal faded and Reile, Dallah and Lauralina stepped forward to witness as Kyria held out her left hand and the Amyrlin slipped the serpent ring onto her third finger. The Amyrlin leaned forward and kissed Kyria on either cheek "Welcome, Daughter." Kyria thought her heart would burst with pride at those words. Reile rubbed her hair with a towel as Phrygiana held out a white woolen dress banded at hem and cuffs with the seven stripes of color to represent each Ajah. She slipped the dress over head and hugged her mentor close "Thank you Reile Sedai. I could not have made it this far without your love and support." The other Aes Sedai kissed Kyria and offered words of congratulations before Phyrgiana took her arm "Weíd better get you moved into your new room then, Accepted." Kyria smiled broadly and hid the pain of the arches deep in her heart. She would deal with that later.


 

 

     Rinoa, First Arch

It was late at night, and Rinoa was tucking some old letters back into her desk. It was the third time she refiled those letters back into her desk. She had a habit of rereading bad news.. She picked up her large hairbrush and did her nightly routine. Brushing her hair, one hundred strokes. Rin could have gone to sleep early, but she didn't feel like it, her legs ached and told her that it was time to sleep, but she continued brushing her hair out of habit. Yawning as she brushed, her jaws cracked and told her to sleep. She dozed off, right on her desk with the brush in her hand.

An hour passed and the door burst open, banging against the far wall. Phrygiana, the head of the Gray Ajah, The Mistress of Novices AND her mentor walked in, her face was dark and her eyes bored into her. Fear floated in the corner of Rinoa's mind, but she was too tired and dazed to know if she was dreaming. Blinking and rubbing her eyes, all that came out of her mouth was "wha.. huh?" Realizing it was not a dream, Rinoa stuttered "Phrygiana Sedd...ai?" as she teetered about, trying to get out of her small desk and chair, falling backwards and banging her head on the ground. "itaaaahh" she breathed as she scrambled up to curtsy, losing her balance yet again. She felt Phryg's hand on her head and delving her to check if it was serious.

"Just a bruise, come child, hurry up and fix yourself. Follow me.", Phryg already began walking out of the room. "Yes, Phrygiana..?" Rinoa intoned it as a question, rubbing her head in a half curtsy but Phrygiana was already out of the room, as though they were late for something. Rinoa was sure she didn't forget to finish off her chores, there couldn't be anything left for her to do at this hour...unless.. is this more punishment for that midnight outing? She remembered the same thing happening to Tovah recently, Phryg came into her quarters and Tovah was escorted somewhere without a word... when she came back she distanced herself from the rest of her friends for a week. Must be, it happened to Chalinda and Saarah too.. Rin thought to herself and remembered what happened after that, the girls had become Accepted and they had changed. They were much different, more serious, and more sensitive to minor things, she hoped it was her imagination or just that it was because they were older and more mature than her. Rinoa looked at Phryg's back, worrying and a knot began to form in her stomach. She didn't feel ready yet, and she was too tired. Rin waited for openings to ask Phryg where they were going, but Phryg continued the trip down into the depths of the White Tower without a pause to look back.

They went down past the basement of the Tower it seemed, it was so dark and deep and unlit that Rinoa couldn't believe such a place existed, especially since upstairs was so bright and well furnished. Rinoa began murmuring about the place to herself, trying to reassure herself she wasn't alone, that maybe it did have to do with that midnight outing when they were in the basement. Phrygiana then sternly instructed her not to speak and she clamped her mouth shut immediately. Phryg stopped at a large door, Rinoa thought she saw Phryg smiling as she went in and Phryg shut the door behind them.

The knot in Rinoa's stomach loosened a little because of that smile but it tightened even more when she saw the inside of the room. It was a large domed place, the walls were a smooth stone different from the Tower. Though it was just as unusual as the rest of the Tower. Tall lamps kept the room well lit and the light reflected off the walls as well. The center of the room had a strange object, three tall, rounded silver arches. It was all one piece somehow, and she couldn't fathom how it was made. They looked like doorways and Rin tried to sneak a look at what was through them but nothing seemed to be there, though a hazy reflection of what was behind showed. Rin tried not to look too long as it made her dizzied. She now was sure it was the ceremony for going through a ter'angreal to become Accepted.

There were Aes Sedai sitting around the ring at certain points, facing it and staring at it intently. To them nothing else mattered, it seemed. When Rinoa took a look at everyone in the room, they all were dressed formally, their shawls representing their respective Ajahs were worn. She recognized some Ajah heads and suddenly felt their eyes pressing on her, weighing her down. Avoiding their eyes, she saw a table with large silver cups, she licked her lips wondering if she'd get a drink or something... Fool girl! You do be thinking about food at a time like this! Don't you remember? It does be the three chalices! Rin's mind seemed to argue with itself as of late.

Rinoa unconsciously brushed her hair behind her shoulder and started pulling at her Novice dress. The wrinkles would not go away. She felt out of place with all those Aes Sedai dressed for a formal event while her dress, face and hair was in shambles. Rinoa felt the need to ask Phryg something, anything, if it was gonna hurt, or if she could take a nap before going through this, how safe it was, or if she could get a drink.. her thoughts drifted, she tried to find excuses to hide that she was scared but felt compelled to do this. She needed to do this, she wanted to become Aes Sedai so much. She hadn't realized she muttered her questions until Phryg started speaking in a low voice to her.

Phryg reminded her of the ceremony, "You will have three chances. You may refuse twice to take this test, but if you refuse the third time, you will be sent away from the Tower and never allowed back." Rinoa's mind started wondering, whatever happened to women who were no allowed back? If they could channel and were trained, were they really just let loose like that? Rinoa tried to voice the question and parted her lips to speak but all that came out was "Yes, Phrygiana Sedai." She couldn't believe she said it.

Phryg began to explain, the seriousness of the situation slowly sank into Rinoa's mind " I will tell you two things no woman hears until she is in this room. The first is this. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, and you will be put out of the Tower. Second. To seek, to strive, is to know danger." Rinoa gulped, she wasn't sure what this could mean, though she was familiar with the speech.

"Some women have entered, and never come out. When the ter'angreal was allowed to grow quiet, they were not there and never seen again." Rinoa felt like she would heave any second now. This does be madness! They let this ter'angreal thing just eat people up?! Her eyes were ready to pop out of her head, Phryg noticed but continued. " To survive, you must be steadfast. Falter, fail and..." Phryg trailed off, Rinoa voiced her question quietly, "..die? this be real?" Phryg's voice and expression was unchanged as she continued. "The worlds behind the arches are images of this world, they depict worlds that could be. Perhaps the women who never came back were tempted by what the arches had for them in the other world, and wanted to stay there rather than return to the world that we know." Rinoa nodded.

"This is your last chance. You may turn back now, and it counts as only the first. You may still try twice more. If you accept now, there is no turning back. There is no shame in refusal. Many women have turned it down, their first times. Choose." Rinoa thought about her friends going through, thought about the dangers it's not real, is it? She didn't give me a straight answer though.. then thought about becoming Aes Sedai. More than anything, she wanted to become one. She imagined she could become Aes Sedai and serve the world as best she can, if she was not good enough to, she wanted to find out here and now. "I do be ready." Rinoa mumbled, not as loud as she would have, but her nerves were wracked with fear of being eaten by the thing.

Phryg then walked into the room slowly as Rinoa followed.
"Whom do you bring with you, Sister?" a loud and formal voice rang. Rinoa was surprised by something cutting the silence and looked about, her eyes scanning the room. It seemed normal to them, and the Aes Sedai around the ter'angreal were undisturbed.
"One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister," Phrygiana replied in formal tones.
"Is she ready?" the Sister of the Red Ajah asked in the same tone.
"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." Rinoa sensed something in the woman's manner of speech, something that reminded her of her mother' scolding and didn't like it. The voice was somewhat similar to... but she shrugged it off. She glanced at the Red Sister one more time noticing her face, it looked somewhat... her mind lost the thought as she followed Phryg who stopped right before the first arch. Rinoa knew what she had to do and warily removed her Novice whites, slippers and stockings, she folded it so that Squall's ring and the chain wouldn't fall out of the pocket in case someone picked it up. Worrying about that in a time like this!? Rinoa's mind argued with itself yet again as she straightened up and took a large breath.

Phryg spoke again, "The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

Be steadfast. Comes but once. Rinoa held onto those important thoughts, the only thoughts in her mind and she focused as hard as she could. She literally jumped though the first arch. Air diffused with light swallowed her up and she felt a lightness to herself, she closed her eyes at it's brightness and opened them to find herself lying on her back in a field.

Oddly, the thought of this not being real became a joke to her. She laughed to herself like she was mad, rolling in the field and picking up flowers. She put a few of her favorites into her hair and stood up. The breeze blew more flower petals across her face and around the land. She also smelled sea foam in the air. Home. Rinoa couldn't be happier to be in Illian.

Rinoa shut her eyes, and breathed in the air. This is real. It can't be just an image.. It cant be.. I hear the ocean down there and.. her own thoughts were interrupted though, The way back will come but once. , Phryg's voice echoed in her mind and she frowned at that. "Phrygiana Sedai?" the words felt new in her mouth as she spoke it to herself.

A voice not far from her, but muted by the crashing waves off in the distance and the wind called at her. "Rinoa?" "Rinoa!" "Rinoa!!!" it continued calling at her until she looked. "Wake up, you jest of a girl! Do not mess my flowers! I'll not have it! Get up and start pruning!" Mother. Rinoa cringed as the nagging, continued complaining and barking of orders to fix the flowers droned in her ears. Something was different from usual. Rinoa looked at her mother again, a glow surrounded her. A sort of halo, it made her as bright as the sun. I know that glow. That's.. Rin shrugged her shoulders and ignored that for the time being. Her duty was to help her mother's gardening. Pull out this weed, cut off those dead branches... Sweat beaded on her forehead as she worked, hours passed it seemed, or was it a few minutes? She wasn't sure and she didn't care. All the gardeners were working in different parts of the fields too. "These flowers, they only grow in Shienar. In the winter, how.." Rin's question trailed off as she realized nobody would answer. She was excited about something happening that night, dinner, or some such, it was her parents meeting Squall for the first time. Oh yes, that's it. She thought to herself as she continued gardening. That one's no good.. Rinoa's mind was concentrated on her work now. She looked around herself, as far as she could, before she replaced her gloves. She wasn't sure what she was looking for anymore, and continued her work.

Rinoa stole another look at her mother during a short break where she wiped her brow, for some odd reason she knew her mother was tired and she stopped gardening. Rinoa decided to stop too. The glow had winked out and her mother was heading back home. How does she get so many flowers growing like that? Rinoa looked at her work, a mess of flowers half grown, weeds all over the place. While her mother's patches were a thousand times as bright, full bloomed and dancing with the breeze.

The sun showed that it was late in the afternoon and Rin also went inside. She changed and washed herself up, taking care to make herself as attractive as possible. She sat in front of her dresser as she always would and looked in the mirror as she combed her hair, one hundred strokes she froze and stared at herself in the mirror. "What...why am I here?" that reflection of herself seemed wrong. She looked well slept, but she felt tired inside. "I have no slept for two days, I am sure I haven't." Be steadfast her own voice echoed at her and she looked around the room.

The next thing she knew, she was seeing things in the mirror, or was seeing what really was. Herself, tired, bleary eyed, hair messed, and in the.. nude..? Rinoa covered herself with her dress but it did nothing to the reflection of herself, standing there on the other side. Fortune prick m.... Rinoa couldn't stop the reflection from following her. Her skin crawled at the sight of it, of her. Rinoa took one last look and punched at it with her bare fist. "Stop it!" A small crack formed but the girl that was herself was still there, behind and lurking, she jabbed again. The pain was real. "What is real?" she screamed at herself, someone, the reflection, whoever heard heard and she didn't care. She pounded at the mirror with her good arm yet again, her right hand spilling blood all over the dresser, the pain was real and tears fell down her face dripping onto the dress she saw and felt and believed was real. She continued her pounding against the face of her own haunting her "Go away!" she wailed until she was out of breath, and at one last blow the whole mirror was in shattered bits all around the floor.

Rinoa stepped back from the dresser watching the shattered glass intently, expecting for it to jump at her. When she was satisfied she sat at her bed, shuddering. Her eyes stared blankly out the window, drawn to it, her breaths were uneven, and her head became lighter. Blood was all over the room and she heard heavy footsteps thudding up the stairs. Once Squall came in side he screamed at her "Blood and ashes! What happened?" Rinoa didn't pay attention to his voice, it sounded hollow and distant. Her mind was losing coherent thought and she was floating now. Her field of vision narrowed and all he saw was his worried face looking at her arm and examining it until it winked out into blackness.

The way out will come but once. a voice said to her, she wasn't sure if it was her own. Be silent. I'm trying to sleep. another voice. You do want to become Aes Sedai, don't you? the voices began overlapping. Fool girl arguing with each other. I want a drink they never ended. My necklace is.. they just continued. Will it hurt? on top of each other. She is ready to leave behind what she was. Rinoa knew that voice. Phrygiana Sedai?

Cold rushed through her, her right hand felt ice moving through it's veins. She felt warm but shivered with both the fear and the feeling of something. This is Healing?

Waking up, she felt a hand moving through her hair. It was brushing her hair. She began to count it out of habit. "thirty five" she murmured, and the hand stopped for a second and started again. I must go somewhere. Away from here. To become Accepted. The ter'angreal is waiting for me somewhere. she remembered her task again.

Her hand was wrapped up but no blood stained her clothing and only the pain of broken bones was left inside her. Senses returned to her slowly and the soft low humming of a voice soothed her. She turned in her rest to see Squall staring off at something while he continued his humming. "This is wrong. I have to go." Squall looked down at her as though she was delirious, but she knew she was not. She was focused now. She tried to be, at least. It was hard to disagree to those eyes without losing herself. He spoke quietly "You have to tell your mother first, and why did you do that to your mirror? What has gotten into you? Are you sick, like she is?"

"She be sick again?" Rin picked herself up from his lap and stood, only to fall back on her knees. Pain shot up her right arm and she stifled a scream, letting only the sound of her exhale loudly through clenched teeth. She got up with his help and began looking out her room's window, it seemed a day had passed. "Yes, she's sick." Squall answered. But she felt tired still, minutes, it only felt like minutes had passed since.. since what? What am I looking for? Something in the distance shined, as bright as the sun's reflection on any surface could be. "There." She said it to herself but Squall had heard. "What's there? I don't see anything. You need some rest. You are sick." He spoke to her as though she was a child, or she had gone mad. Rinoa knew she had to rest, but she couldn't have it now. "Not now," she muttered to herself. Squall's face creased with worry at her ramblings. "Both you and your mother need rest, lots of it. You can't go out right now. Besides, a storm is coming", to prove his point, thunder rumbled in the distance.

Rinoa looked at the clouds, many miles away, "But it will no come for a while. No for a while yet. I have to go." Squall tried to lead her back to her chair but she pushed him away, weakly. "I have to go!" her voice cracked. She looked wistfully out the window. "Focus, burn you! It does come only but once! Why, why must it be so far away!" Rinoa spoke to herself, she didn't care if she seemed mad now, she had to focus, she had to go there. "I have to, have to go there." Something more important than anything else to her was on it's other side, waiting.

Rinoa stumbled down the steps in her house, panting and barely keeping herself upright. Maids brushed out of her way, toppling large trays as they dodged her. All the clanging and shouting in the house seemed to blur away when she turned. Everything seemed to reduce itself to blurs wherever she turned. She stopped and observed that oddity. Is it real? Looking for the silver arches from her front porch she spotted it to the west, it seemed miles away, a small beacon shining for her. It's changing reflection called out to her. Be steadfast. Phryg's voice guided her as she looked around slowly. "None of this be real." Only now she noticed that blurring at her peripheral vision, whenever she turned quickly, it was as though the world around her needed time to render itself. Shaking her head she ran and ran toward it, stumbling upon her mother's flowers.

A scream from inside her house shocked her. No, not that. Rinoa cringed as she remembered her mother's sicknesses, they became frequent as of late. She'd be screaming all night, tired from the pain. Squall burst out of her house looking in her direction. "Where are you going?" he shouted at her, then even more loudly, "Where are you going?" he called out as he ran to her. She tried to run to the arches, but knew he'd catch up sooner or later at her pace. "I was going to tell you. Your mother is sick again, its much worse than before." Rinoa kept looking at the arches as he spoke, then at him, then at the house. She tried to make a run for it again and was caught by his arms. She flailed at it but there was no strength left in her to budge him. Suddenly she felt hunger, the hunger of days without eating, but she knew she had eaten recently, or thought she did. And tired, so tired. Tears welled up in her eyes "Let me go, please... Please!", Squall still insisted "Don't you care about her?" he gestured with his head to the house. "She wanted to see you once you were awake. To check your arm, at least. She's sick in bed while you want to run off in the fields and wreck your room!? What's the matter with you? When will you ever grow up?" Rinoa kept tugging wordlessly to go.

Another scream rattled at her bones, it was so loud, and to her ears it was deafening. Squall let go to start off in the direction of the house then stopped as a deep rumble, from somewhere, grew louder. He looked around warily and started back in Rinoa's direction. Thunderstorm? There no be clouds here but.. Taking the opportunity, Rin ran as fast as she could, but the earth moved against her. She scrambled, weak in the knees and her eyes on the arches. "I will be steadfast! I be coming!" she shouted to anyone on the other side. It was not her imagination though, the earth heaved in front of her as it lifted her high up in the air and dropped her back to the ground. "Aaagh!" Rinoa screamed in agony, the pain in her arm intensified a thousand times when she landed on it. The earth was rippling like water, I must have been more than thirty feet in the air..

She turned back to her house, what she knew only looked like her house.. Maids and workers she knew were rushing out of it. Squall lay overturned in the fields, a mound that didn't move, he wasn't breathing at all. Rinoa started to walk towards him. The way out! Rinoa staggered, walking in one direction then the other... she couldn't decide. Tears stung her eyes "No! Why now? Not him! What kind of nightmare does this be?" Rinoa slowly turned away from his direction and ran as fast as she could.

The air was suddenly very still as she heard something coming to her from behind. "Earthquakes are nothing like," she muttered to herself but was cut off as the earth heaved again beneath her. This time she kept still and grabbed tufts of flowers and grass, her nails being filled with dirt as it raised her up into the air. Preparing herself for the earth to drop again, she ran a few steps and leaped as it began dropping.

She didn't know how long those arches would wait for her, but she continued running in this fashion, stopping to hold and going again. Squall never moved whenever she looked back and people were still leaving her house. The arches began flickering, as though they threatened to disappear. "Do no disappear just yet!" Rinoa screamed at it as she took one last look behind, clamped her eyes shut and leapt through with the last of her strength.

Rinoa found herself skidding to a halt back inside the large room in the White Tower. She stifled a sob as she remembered what happened and gulped the hurt down. No.. no.. it was not real, was not.. but why can't the Aes Sedai just say its not bloody real? Not real at all! She shivered as cold water was poured over her head from a large silver cup. She bit back at her pain, held her face straight and clenched her teeth and fists. With a start she realized she wasn't dirty, as she was when in the ter'angreal. It gave her some comfort, that whatever existed there, stayed there. Her arm also was well again. She turned to look back at the ter'angreal, it was the same as before.

"You are washed clean," the Red's voice said, "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 clean and pure, in heart and soul." Shivering, Rinoa lifted her head to look at the Red sister with her teeth clenched to stay still. They were the same height and she suddenly realized it may seem as though she was glaring. She couldn't help it, her instincts made her feel it was like her mother punishing her, but this woman was not her mother at all.