Paksenarrion was laying on her bed when all of a sudden
she heard a knock at the door. She quickly sat up before
the door opened. She was surprised that Sabine Sedai was
standing there. She started to frantically search her
mind to see if she had done something wrong and was going
to have to go to the MoN's study.
"It's time, Novice.", Sabine Said.
Paksenarrion almost started to apologize for anything that
she had done wrong but she stopped herself before she
could speak when she realized what the MoN was talking
about. She followed Sabine out of her room and down into
the tower farther than she had ever been before. When she
was thoroughly lost Sabine stopped and opened a door.
When Paksenarrion walked into the room the first thing
that she noticed was three glowing arches on a silver
platform. Then as she looked around the room she saw
several sisters standing about the room each of them was
holding the source.
When Sabine started to speak Paksenarrion was startled to
hear her voice. The room was so quite it almost seamed
wrong that she should be speaking. "Welcome
Paksenarrion. Novices are given three chances to go
through this. You may refuse twice and no one will think
any less of you. However if you refuse the third time you
will be put out of the tower with enough silver to last
you a year and you will never be allowed back into the
tower. Now that you have heard this do you wish to
"I wish to go on.", Paksenarrion said hoping
that the sisters couldn't tell how nervous she was.
"Good, now I will tell you two things that no girl
hears until she is in this room. The first is that once
you start you must finish. Refuse at any point and you
will be put out of the tower as if you had refused for the
third time. Do you understand?", Sabine waited for
Paksenarrion to nod her head that she understood and then
she continued, "The second is that to to seek, to
strive, is to know danger. 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. You can
choose to stop now and it will only count as the first
refusal. do you wish to continue.?"
"I wish to continue.", Paksenarrion said. When
she talked she noticed a slight tremble in her voice.
"Then ready yourself." Paksenarrion hurriedly
removed her white dress and her underclothes. She folded
them and placed them in a neat pile on the floor. When she
was finished she turned and looked at Sabine. Sabine then
led her to the arches and one of the other sisters started
"Whom do you bring with you, Sister?" The Green
sister said ceremoniously.
"One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance,
Sister," said Sabine Sedai in answer.
"Does she know her fears?"
"She has never faced them, but now is willing."
"Then let her face what she fears." With the
last sentence, the room was silent.
Sabine turned to Paksenarrion and said, "The first
time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be
Paksenarrion hesitated for a moment before walking into
the first arch. When she walked into the arch the white
light wrapped around her and a mist started to form. Soon
she couldn't even see her hand in front of her face, she
continued to walk forward and all of a sudden she was....
Walking next to her father going into town Paksenarrion
stopped and looked around wasn't she just somewhere else?
No, it must have been her imagination. She was going into
town with her father to get some things from the market
for her mother. When her father reached his shop she gave
him a hug and walked toward the market. She reached the
market and started to look at the stalls. All of a sudden
she heard an explosion come from down near her father's
shop. She started to run toward that section of town. When
she got there she saw her father's shop in flames and she
heard someone screaming from inside the shop. She look
around at the crowd and didn't see her father it was at
that point that she realized that it was her father that
was screaming in the shop. She heard in her mind, "Be
Steadfast" where did that come from she thought. She
reached the door to the shop and rushed in heedless of the
flames. She saw her father trapped under one of the
shelves that he used to display his pottery work.
"Help me," He cried. "Be Steadfast"
Where was that coming from? She looked around for
something to help her lift the shelf off her father. She
noticed an glowing white arch in the corner of the shop.
"What is that", she wondered. "Be
Steadfast" She saw one of her father's tools in a
corner and she went and grabbed it she started to pry the
shelf up. "Be Steadfast" I can't leave him
again. "Be Steadfast" NO! at that point the fire
flared up and she was thrown back through the arch.
When she hit the floor she screamed, "NO!!
FATHER!!", and she tried to go back into the arch but
was stopped by Sabine Sedai. When She couldn't get free of
Sabine she just collapsed and started to cry. After a
minute she noticed that her hands were burned from the
metal tool that she had picked up. Sabine healed her hands
and wiped away her tears. "Are you ready to
continue?", Sabine asked. Pakseanrrion nodded her
head to afraid to speak she knew that if she opened her
mouth she would start to cry again.
Before she stood up the Green sister that had spoke
earlier pored a chalice of water over Paksenarrion.
"Of what sin you may have done, and of those done
against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may
have committed," Sabine recited, "and of those
committed against you. You come to us washed clean and
pure, in heart and soul."
Paksenarrion stood and Sabine led her to the second arch.
When she stood in front of the second arch, "The
second time is for what is." Sabine intoned.
"The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."
Paksenarrion took a deep breath and walked into the arch
and walked onto....
The streets of Tar Valon she was running an errand for the
MoN. When she looked around at the city she was still
struck with the same awe that she had the first time she
had seen the city. She looked out at the river surrounding
the city and saw many different types of boats. As she was
looking out at the boats she saw some boats coming up the
river as she watched she realized that there were a lot of
boats and right then she heard a high pitched shriek from
up in the sky. She looked up and saw a creature that she
had never seen before with a rider on it. Suddenly one of
the warehouses by the docks exploded. She looked around
for the cause and she happened to see that on one of the
boats there was a woman that was glowing. Paksenarrion
finally understood these were the Seanchan that everyone
was talking about. Paksenarrion started to run back to the
tower but she was stopped by one of the flying creatures.
"Yu will not escape us dammane.", the rider
said. Paksenarrion broke into a run down one of the side
streets trying to get away from the Seanchan on the flying
creature. She ran down allies and on side streets she tried
to avoid the main street. As she turned around one corner
she was spotted by a group of Seanchan with women on
leashes. Paksenarrion tried to run away but one of the
women stopped her using a flow of air. Pakseanarrion was
dragged back to the docks where she was brought before
what appeared to be the leader of the group of women.
"Be Steadfast" Paksenarrion looked for who had
said that but none of the people had spoke. "So you
are one of the dammane that the tower has trained for
us.", the woman said. "Well let's see how well
they trained you." Another woman was walking towards
Paksenarrion with what looked to be a collar and leash
with a bracelet attached to the leash. The woman started
to put the leash around Paksenarrion's neck. When the
leash was in place the flow of air around Paksenarrion was
released. Paksenarrion tried to run from the group of
people and all of a sudden she was feeling sick to her
stomach. The group of people started to laugh at her.
"What you are wearing girl is an a'dam. What it does
is not allow you to touch the source or use it in any way
unless the woman who wears the bracelet at the other end
wishes you to.", the leader began, "It also
prevents you from doing anything that we don't want you to
do. Like escape. If you try to do something that we don't
want or don't like then you will become ill and
weak." "Be Steadfast" Paksenarrion was
taken to a room in one of the buildings next to the dock.
The woman who brought her her put the bracelet on a table
and left the room not even bothering to close the door.
"Be Steadfast" As Paksenarrion was looking
around the room she noticed across the hall a glowing
arch. She attempted to go to the arch but she started to
feel sick and she stopped and sat down to catch her
breath. She noticed that the arch was getting shaky she
knew that she had to get through that arch. She stood back
up and started toward the arch again as she walked she
kept feeling worse by the time she was in the hall she was
practically crawling to the arch with the bracelet part
dragging behind her. She got to the arch which had become
significantly fainter by this time and with the last of
her strength flung herself through the arch.
Paksenarrion lay on the floor she was still so exhausted
that she couldn't move. When the other people in the room
saw her just laying there they rushed over to see what was
wrong. The MoN used the One Power to take away some of the
fatigue Paksenarrion was feeling so that she could
continue. When Paksenarrion had enough strength to stand
the green sister came over and poured the second chalice
"You are washed clean of false pride," the green
sister said. "You are washed clean of false ambition.
You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."
"The third time is for what will be. The way back
will come but once. Be steadfast."
Paksenarrion walked into the arch for the third time and
she walked out into....
A battle was waging all around her. Not just any battle
but the last battle. As a green sister she was right in
the middle of the fighting. She had already lost one of
her warders to a Dragkar and now her and her other warder
were surrounded by a horde of trollocs. She was
frantically look around for someway out of this situation
when out of the corner of her eye she noticed something
strange that she had never seen before. What she saw was a
bar of white light that almost hurt to look at was going
through an entire legion of trollocs and wherever the bar
touched the trollocs disappeared. She suddenly remembered
what a brown had said about the fight before the breaking
about a one power ability called "Balefire".
"So that's what balefire looks like.", she
thought, "but I thought no one knew how to do that
anymore." She looked to see where that had come from
and she paled when she saw that it had come form one of
the forsaken. Paksenarrion pulled some fire, and sprit
threads and wove them into a ball to throw at the
forsaken. She also pulled some air threads out and created
a wind that would carry the fireball to the forsaken. She
threw the fireball in the direction of the forsaken.
"Be Steadfast" "What was that?", she
wondered. When the fireball reached the forsaken she
caused it to explode. "Be Steadfast" After the
fire and the smoke cleared the forsaken was still standing
there and now he was looking at her. "Be
Steadfast" The forsaken did something and another bar
of white light formed and was coming toward her. "Be
Steadfast" She started to fight her way out of the
trollocs and she saw a glowing silver arch about 20 yards
away. "No I can't leave now people need me.",
She said. She finally fought free of most of the trollocs
and she felt her bond with her warder disintegrate. It
didn't feel like it had when her other warder died. She
turned around and looked and she knew what had happened
her warder had gotten hit by the balefire. The forsaken on
the hill created another balefire and sent it after
Paksenarrion. Paksenarrion started to run toward the arch,
but the balefire was catching up to her. She began to run
faster and she reached the arch and dived through it the
arch disappeared a split second before the balefire hit it.
Paksenarrion landed in a roll and came up looking at the
arch out of breath.
She walked over to a group of sisters and the Amyrlin
herself. The Amyrlin poured the final chalice of water
over Paksenarrion's head herself and said, "You are
washed clean, Paksenarrion of Amidica. 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 Paksenarrion,
Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us
Paksenarrion gratefully put on the banded dress of an
Accepted and took the ring and put it on the finger she was
Paksenarrion kept her emotions under control for as long
as she could but after a while she just had to talk to
someone so she went to see her mentor. She went up to the
Amyrlin's study and asked the Keeper if the Amyrlin had
time to see her. The Keeper said that the Amyrlin had some
time between appointments and she showed her into the
study. After the Keeper had left Paksenarrion broke down
and started crying. The Amyrlin understood and walked over
to comfort her.
Trel was humming a wordless melody as she came back from the
gardens and turned into the corridor leading through the Novice
quarters- and to her room. She was exhausted after running errands
most of the morning for the countless Sedai and Accepted who
didn't seem to be able to do things for themselves. No, not fair,
she thought. They were just too busy to run errands and send
messages. But still! She sighed in frustration. Well, at least
she'd been able to escape and sit in the garden for all of... a
half hour. She had to get back and head for the kitchens soon.
Kitchen duty this afternoon again, ugh. She reached her room as
she saw Phrygiana Sedai turn down her corridor and begin walking
towards her. Not wanting to be the lucky
novice chosen for another errand, she quickly turned the doorknob
and ducked into her room. She flopped onto her bed and closed her
A few moments later- all too soon for Trel- her rest was
interrupted by a knock on the door. What did they want this time?
She'd barely gotten any sleep for the past week with all her
classes and chores and... she yawned and sat up as Phrygiana Sedai
turned the doorknob and entered the room. DARN! The MoN had seen
her. What did she want though?
"Trel, come with me," the MoN said commandingly.
Trel got up, puzzled, and followed. Not an errand? Maybe a chore
she thought with a groan. Ah well, she wasn't in trouble this
time, she was sure. But still, ANOTHER chore? She didn't need to
deal with it, given her dazed state of mind.
"Wait, where am I going?" she wondered as Phrygiana led
her deeper into the Tower. I've never been here before, she
thought, looking around and noticing she hadn't seen anyone
passing by in a while. They were deep in the Tower, she realized.
"It is time," Phrygiana said, shaking Trel from her
musings. Had she spoken aloud earlier or something? Really, she
must get some sleep so she could be more aware of these things
and... Phrygiana's words broke through, "...ready to take the
test to become Accepted" WHAAA--AATTT??? What was Phrygiana
Sedai talking about?? She- Trel- was going to become Accepted? Um-
"Why didn't you tell me before... or give me some kind of...
warning?" Trel interrupted.
Phrygiana began to explain to Trel, but then they were there. She
paused in her explanation to open a door to a large, cavernous
room. Trel looked around in wonder, then, with a nudge from
Phrygiana, Trel told her feet to move, and she walked in, eyes
widening in wonder.
She saw Eidheann Sedai, her mentor, waiting by the first of the
three silver arches- the ter'angreal Marce had told her about- the
ones that brought you to face your worst fears. She shuddered.
Phrygiana exchanged a glance with Eidhe and looked Trel solemnly.
"I will now tell you two things no novice hears until she is
within these halls. The first is if you begin the journey through
the three arches, you must finish. If you choose to stop at any
time in the ceremony you will be given enough silver for one year
and be turned out of the tower. The second is... to seek, to
strive is to know danger. Some women have entered yonder arches
and never returned. When the ter'angreal was allowed to grow
quiet, they were not there. If you are to survive you are to be
steadfast. Falter, fail, and..." she trailed off. "You
may turn back at this point with only one strike against you. Two
more and you would be sent out of the tower. Do you accept?"
Trel bit her lip, unsure. What *could* she be afraid of that could
honestly be *that* bad? Before she could stop the words flowing
out of her mouth and think of the worst it might be, she said,
"I accept, Aes Sedai."
Phrygiana turned back, a minute flash of a smile playing upon her
face, to Eidheann Sedai.
"Who do you bring with you, Sister?" Eidheann inquired.
As if she didn't know! Trel thought with a momentary flash of
anger at the tediousness of the ceremony, which only gave her time
to get nervous. Trel told herself to breathe. Relax... too much
stress... re-lax. relaxxx. relax, she told herself. Eidhe smiled
at her solemnly.
"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." I wish! What I was! I
don't even know! Trel thought soberly.
"Does she know her fears?"
"She has never faced them, but now is willing."
"Then let her face what she fears." Yeah, sure, whatever
that may-- Trel's thoughts were interrupted by a meaningful look
from Phrygiana, telling her to *get on with the ceremony,
She shed her dress, revealing the goosebumps on her arms.
"The first time is for what was," Phrygiana said,
emotionlessly. "The way back will come but once. Be
Trel stared at the first arch. At Eidheann Sedai, staring into it,
channeling into it with most of her concentration. At Phrygiana
Sedai, hope in her eyes that another Accepted would be in the
White Tower soon. At Leonora Sedai, Brown Ajah, sitting in a lotus
position, channeling into the second arch, the usual mischievious
gleam in her eyes mixed with apprehension. Beyond Taya, at
Lauralina Sedai of the White Ajah, channeling into the third arch
placidly. Would she even make it to the third arch? She cast her
eyes away from the three Sedai in a row and looked around the
room. It was empty, cavernous, except for a table holding three
silver chalices, Sabine Sedai standing by them. She looked around
the room, everywhere, except at the arches themselves.
She felt the tension in the room. It was time. Forcing her eyes to
focus on the first arch, she looked through it. Walked toward it.
Walked through it...
And, with a pop! sound, sort of like one emerging from a bubble,
she burst into a house, built and furnished in the fashion of
minor nobles of Cairhien. It looked... familiar... My house!
something told her. This was where she'd lived for her first
fifteen years! Before... before she'd found out the true nature of
her parents, and been subsequently wiped of her memories of those
past years. Instinctively, she ran upstairs. My old room! She
marveled, regaining a picture of her childhood she'd lost when-
Darkfriends... she forced herself to say the word, if only in her
mind... had come to tell her parents to get Trel and her
brother--- out of the way; they would be a hindrance to the goals
of the Dark. Why am I here? she wondered. She walked out of her
The way back will come but once. Be steadfast. Wha-aat? She
was rediscovering her childhood. This was no time for... The words
echoed in her mind. Be steadfast. OK, if I do will you shut
up??! She pushed the thoughts aside, and walked past what she now
took to be her brother's room, and upstairs once more, into the
attic. She heard noise. A scream. She walked faster up the stairs
and threw open the attic door.
A group of vagabonds, thieves, rogues, a fellow who looked to be a
merchant, and a high-ranking noble she vaguely recognised, if only
from the insignia of his House printed on the silk peeping from
under his dark cloak. Two of the faces she recognized more clearly
though. Much more clearly. Bound back to back, a knife to each of
their throats, sat her parents, her mother screaming for mercy.
Not seeing her yet, one of the thieves, the one holding the knife
to her mother's throat, barked out, "This is your last- your
very last- chance to save your lives. Swear the oaths and become a
Friend, or.. die. Vilmor here can prescribe your manner of death,
which I can assure you, will be most painful." He gestured at
the noble, who pulled out his own dagger and began sharpening it.
Her mother struggled vainly against her bonds, and her father
tried to spit out the cloth gag that had been shoved in his mouth.
"MOTHER!!!" Trel screamed, running desperately at the
man who'd been threatening them, instinctively reaching to pull
out a dagger of her own from the belt she realized she was
"Trel! Help us! They're trying to turn us to Darkfriends!"
her mother shrieked, tears flowing freely from her face again,
covering up the dried tearstains that looked almost as if they'd
been there forever. "You're the only--" Her mother's
voice was abruptly cut off as the thief slapped his hand over her
mouth. Trel ran forward and stopped abruptly. The Darkfriends
stared at her, but she stared at the silver arch that had just
appeared across the room.
"NOOOO!!!" she screamed.
Her parents looked at her, fearful. She stood there, paralyzed. The
way back will come but once... But no! This wasn't fair!
"Trel! Help us! For the sake of the Light!" Her father
managed to spit out the gag, and struggled against his bonds,
shouting to Trel. The Darkfriends stood, frozen, afraid of her,
the newcomer, and what she might bring.
They soon noticed her fear, though. The noble- Vilmor- headed for
her with the dagger. She kicked him, and rushed towards her
parents. Crying, she was about to start working on the ropes
binding them, when the arch flickered. The way back.... A
fresh flow of tears came forth. Along with the Darkfriends, all
with their daggers out now, one holding a lit torch.
Trel stood up.
"Trel! Where are you going?!!" her parents screamed. The
Darkfriend threw the torch towards them, sending sparks into her
eyes. The floor began to burn. Trel walked a few steps.
"TREL!!!" her parents pleaded. She turned around. I
CAN'T do this to them. The arch flickered once more, and the fire
came closer to her and her parents, who were only a few feet away,
but those few feet closer to the fire.
"SWEAR!" the first thief who had spoken proclaimed,
flinging off his cloak, revealing a madness in his eyes which had
heretofore been shadowed.
She ran back at the man, vainly trying to stab at his heart. He
grabbed her wrist and twisted. "Ummph," she groaned as
the dagger fell from her hands. I can't leave them... The arch
flickered once more, and the flames fanned up, threatening to
separate her from it.
Oh I can't, can I? she thought bitterly. Her parents screams died
as she ran through the arch. But they never died in her head, even
as Sabine Sedai poured a chalice of water over her now scorched
and burned body. She shivered.
"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."
Washed clean of sin?! What she'd done was easily the worst crime
since the Breaking. And two more arches stood in front of her.
"The second time is for what is," Phrygiana went on.
"I- can't...go on," Trel interrupted, her voice a
whisper, "After what I did...."
"You refuse?" Phrygiana asked meaningfully.
"I- I..." Trel paused. She didn't deserve this. She
deserved to die, burning, with her parents. She could've saved
them.. from becoming... and trying to... kill.. her and her
brother later. "I will go on," she told Phrygiana.
"The second time is for what is," she went on, as if she
hadn't been interrupted. "The way back will come but once. Be
No hesitation this time, she thought. I deserve whatever's coming
for me. She approached the arch and stepped through. She hardly
noticed she was entering her house again.
She blinked several times. She was in a small library, perched in
a large armchair, a book in her lap that was rather too big in
comparison to the rest of her. Yawning sleepily, she was about to
hop down and put the book back in it's place, when she noticed a
furtive movement by the door. It creaked open, and- her brother?
yes, it was her brother- peeked in.
"Trel!" he whispered agitatedly, as he entered and
closed the door behind him. "Something weird is going on... a
man... our parents...." he stumbled over the words, finally
managing to get out, "They're after us."
"What do you mean, after us?" Trel inquired. "Who?
Why?" What was the dear boy talking about? She had a tendency
to act the mother sometimes, even if to an older brother.
"You haven't been drinking too much of that herbal tea, have
you? Mother says it can make you see things that aren't there
"No time for that," he interrupted. "That's the
problem... Mother... and Father... and that man they've taken in
for the night. The one they say is a friend. I-" His voice
broke, and he paused for a moment to regain control. "I
overheard them saying... Trel, I don't know how to say this, but
you have to believe me... that man is more than an ordinary
friend... our parents are Darkfriends, and that man too. He just
told them to kill us. I was walking by their door, and I heard
them arguing over it. But I'm sure.... Trel, we have to get out of
Abruptly he was silent, listening. Trel heard voices in the
hallway. The way back will come but once... What? Back where? Her
brother wanted her out of there, but back? Back to... the White
Tower. She remembered.
Unfortunately, the thought was pushed from her head once more as
the voices in the hallway returned- closer. "Must get them...
tonight?...you WILL!... out of the way..." her father's voice
argued with that of the other man.
The doorknob rattled. Trel looked up at her brother, her eyes
widening, beginning to believe there was more than a little truth
in his words. The door opened, and her father, not seeing her
brother, but only Trel, whispered, "Daughter, are you
awake?" She froze. She'd seen the glint of metal under his
Her father entered the room, the Darkfriend- the other Darkfriend,
she admitted grimly- following close behind. Trel was still
paralyzed with fear, but her brother, shaking, ran for the
encroaching men, pulling out his sword from it's sheath.
Trel watched, her still body seeming isolated from her mind, which
was raving madly at her to do something. They were both good
swordsmen- the father and son. What her father had in experience
her brother made up for in agility and youthful strength. She
watched the combatants rally back and forth in the close quarters
of the library, the strange man standing in the doorway, smirking
at the father and son in a life-and-death situation- against each
other. She struggled to rouse her body to move and help- but it
was to no avail. Suddenly her father seemed to gain the advantage,
and lunged at her brother.
"AHhh," her brother grimaced as he received a large
slash by his ribcage. The pain felt by her brother seemed to
awaken Trel's reflexes, and anger surged through her. She screamed
as her father went for her brother's throat, channeled without
thinking, and then the world tilted wildly for a few seconds, and
seemed to shatter.
She looked around, dazed. Her head pounded. She pushed herself to
her knees and looked around. She was outside now, her father and
the man poking through a mass of rubble a hundred feet away. Her
brother was beside her, gasping for breath, clutching his side.
What had she done? The explosion- what had caused the Earth to
move like that? She looked again at the mass of rubble. That had
been her house, she realized. She had destroyed her house. The
explosion had come from her anger... how? ...be steadfast...
A silver arch appeared in front of her. Her brother sat up then,
seeing his sister become suddenly more alert and grim. She looked
at him. A shout. Her father. She knew without looking over there
that he had seen them.
The way back... be steadfast...
"Run" she whispered to her brother. She ran as well. She
shouldn't be able to channel in here. No. And the sudden rush of
memories that had been held back for all those years since this
had happened, all those years ago- that shouldn't be happening
either. But it was. She kept running, in the wrong direction, away
from her brother. Through the arch.
...And nearly into Sabine Sedai, who was holding the second
chalice of water. The Aes Sedai quickly covered up the near
stumble by pouring the water over Trel, who was already damp with
nervous sweat. She went on to say the ritual words, "You are
washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false
ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."
Trel's head was buzzing with the memories accumlulating in her
conscious mind, and she wasn't paying much attention, but suddenly
the words registered. False ambition?! Oh really? Wanting to save
my brother? Since when is-
"The third time is for what will be," Phrygiana's words
cut through the buzzing and her thoughts. "The way back will
come but once. Be steadfast." And with a nudge, Trel walked
through the final arch.
...into what looked like the Pit of Doom overflowed into the
world. She quickly ducked to avoid a flash of- balefire? but that
was forbidden... how could it---
"Trel! What are you doing out there? Trying to get killed?
The Battle is just beginning, and you're not some fool Brown
trying to study what's going on. Even I'm not. Logic, Trel, you of
all people should understand. The time is for planning, and
action. I know shaping the earth for our hold wasn't easy, but you
mustn't allow your mind to wander." So Poluna Sedai scolded
her worriedly as she pulled Trel back to the group, clustered
behind a cavernlike boulder further down on the hill where Trel
had been standing when the balefire flew.
Trel looked around. They all seemed to be clustered around a-
Light, was that a gateway? Minako Sedai seemed to be sketching a
plan for defense on the floor with a stick, in case their hold was
"At all costs, the gateway must be defended until everyone
returns. Tania and Marce Sedai should be back soon from trying to
get some of those- Ashaman- to work with us. Laurya- blood and
ashes woman! I don't like it any more than you do, but we're all
fighting on the same side- and we all saw what happened to the
Tower when His dreadlords appeared." There was no need for
Minako to say who He was. Everyone knew. The Asha'man camp hadn't
been attacked, out of carelessness or something else- perhaps He-
the Dark One- had thought they were all mad already. Maybe they
were. Either way, the Asha'man had survived fairly well, so far.
The Aes Sedai- well... hadn't. Trel realized suddenly what was
going on. We're all that's left... to fight... the Last Battle...
The White Tower was gone, and Light send the Creator knew who else
among it's inhabitants had survived it beyond their small group.
We're all that's left, the words echoed again. We- she looked
around at the grim group of women- Laurya Sedai, angry at the
outcome of the battle so far, actually angry since her daughter,
Daelin, who was with Mandi, Lyanna, and Taya further ahead in the
battle, undertaking a futile stand with their Warders, hadn't
chose Red as her Ajah. Poluna and Minako, busy with plans to
defend against the rapidly encroaching Shadow army. Verina,
rummaging through a sack of ter'angreal, trying to find something
"It *has* to be in here somewhere! We need to be able to
fight their balefire- I know we ha- HERE!" Verina looked
solemnly at all of them. At last all of the years she'd spent
studying angreal's was going to prove useful. "Farewell,
sisters. May we meet again, under the Light." And she took
the angreal, and walked through the gateway.
Almost at the same moment that Velocymey staggered in through the
other gateway, on the other side of the small cavern. Why hadn't
Jaann come with her? They had both went on a final venture to the
depths of the Tower, which hadn't been destroyed in the siege by
the dreadlords. They were seeking a means to find anything-
anything- that could help them in their present situation.
"Trel- we need to go. I'll explain on the way. Jaann was-
somehow we were attacked during our search, and... they killed
her. I barely managed to escape, myself. A pity our few Yellows
got- killed... in the siege. But we need to go- now. Only one
thing could have given our position in the Tower basements
away." Velocymey said. Betrayal from within their group. No
one denied the existence of a Black Ajah now. A Grey sister- her
name refused to recall itself in Trel's head along with the rest
of the situation- had assisted in the seizing of the Tower. No one
"Who-" Trel interjected, but she was interrupted.
Abruptly a group of bedraggled Aes Sedai burst through the first
gateway. It was Taya and Mandi, hounded by a man who seemed to be
in command of a miniature army of- squirrels?
Lightning shot from the man's fingers, shattering the walls of the
cavern. Trel and the others ran off in all directions. Trel soon
found herself alone at the peak of another nearby hill. She looked
around. Where was everyone? Who was that man? And why had Mandi
been linked to him when he destroyed their refuge?
She turned and looked down to the base of the hill. Velocymey was
staggering up; Trel rushed down to help her. They met on the slope
halfway up. Velocymey seemed to be hurt; one arm dangled useless
at her side, and she clutched her side with the other. But they
were not alone. Beginning to struggle up the hill, supported by
one of her Warders, was Mandi Sedai.
"Trel-" Velocymey began, at the same moment Mandi called
up to them for help. Well let her yell, she thought. If she's
responsible for any of this... Trel refused to let the thought
"Trel-" Velocymey said, weaker. Hurriedly Trel embraced
saidar and used what little healing skill she possessed to help
her friend. Velocymey continued, a bit stronger, but not much.
"Trel, before Jaann got killed, we found something that could
"Trel! You must listen to me!" Mandi interrupted again,
closer up to them now. "We were attacked by a circle of 12
Black Ajah... They were linked to the man... He drew me into the
link... I knew him, but not any more... You and Velocymey can help
me defeat him..."
"...a ter'angreal in a...." Velocymey's voice penetrated
through Mandi's pleas.
"Link with me... please..."
"NO! You said it yourself.... you were linked with Black Ajah...you..."
Trel interrupted. She would have said more, something along the
lines of words that would be better received by drunkards in a
tavern, assuming there were any left. (Taverns, not drunkards.
There'll always be those.)
But than an a silver arch appeared at the peak of the hill.
What...? thought Trel. Some other kind of gateway....? and then
she remembered... The way back will come but once... NO!
"...east of the Aiel Waste..." Velocymey's voice cut
through her thoughts. Trel was torn. She HAD to listen to her
"I cannot defeat him without you..." Mandi interjected.
Just then, the darkfriend- or Dreadlord, Trel wasnt sure even,
approached the bottom of the hill, bellowing something, half-mad,
if not entirely so.
...the way back...
"Trel, we will all be killed!" Mandi's voice seemed more
"...can give life...and preserve it...." Velocymey's
voice was barely audible.
"...or take it... hide it... away..."
"Linked, we can heal Velocymey, and then deal with...
him..." Mandi tried. Her Warder began heading down the slope
to slow the man and his squirrels.
"NO! You...." Trel's voice cracked. "How could
"...to any degree..." Velocymey said in a whisper.
The arch flickered. Trel got up, hesitating.
"...and make cuendillar...." Velocymey finished. "Trel!
Where are you going...?" The two said the last in unison. For
she was heading away from them, up the hill.
"I am not a Darkfriend!" Mandi cried. Trel turned
...be steadfast... The arch flickered again.
...and she turned back. To the arch. Don't look back, she told
herself. But when she'd reached the top of the hill, she glanced
back. Mandi was still calling out to Trel, as she tried futily to
Heal Velocymey, who was mouthing words about the ter'angreal they
so desperately needed, that they could possibly win the Battle
with. The Warder was clearly losing his battle with the darkfriend.
And she could help. She ran, intending to go back to them. But
somehow her running feet took her through the arch...
The Amyrlin Seat poured the third chalice of water over Trel's
head. "You are washed clean of Trel Anneleiku 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 Trel Anneleiku,
Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us now." And
she placed a Great Serpent ring on the middle finger of Trel's
After what seemed like hours, though it may have only been
minutes, Trel found herself in the Accepted Quarters, in her new
room. She didn't deserve it. What kind of a person was she, to do
what she did, to her friends and family? ... Have to... get out...
I have to escape myself... She looked at the ring on her finger.
Maybe she had.
Eladari was sitting in her room talking with Tanya, when suddenly
Sabine Sedai appeared in their doorway.
“It is time,” said Sabine ceremoniously.
Eladari gulped and looked over to Tanya, who looked very worried.
Then she slowly got up and followed Sabine Sedai.
They walked down and down in the White Tower. Farther than Eladari
had ever been, or even believed existed. She could’ve almost
believed they were below the water.
They arrived at a room that was dwarfed by three tall silver rings
in the center. A ter’angreal. A sister sat at the bottom of each
where they touched the floor. Eladari could feel the power
necessary to maintain those rings.
Sabine Sedai started to speak.
"I will tell you now what no one hears until they walk into
this room. Once you begin, you must finish. There is no half way
in this test. If you do not finish, you will be put out of the
Novices are given three chances. You may refuse twice and no one
will think any less of you. However if you refuse the third time
you will be put out of the tower with enough silver to last you a
year and you will never be allowed back into the tower. Now that
you have heard this do you wish to continue?”
“Yes, I do.” answered Eladari.
“Good, now I will tell you two things that no girl hears until
she is in this room. The first is that once you start you must
finish. Refuse at any point and you will be put out of the tower
as if you had refused for the third time."
“The second is that to seek, to strive, is to know danger. Some
women have entered, and never come out. When the ter'angreal was
allowed to grow quiet, they simply were not there. And they were
never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. You
can choose to stop now and it will only count as the first
refusal. Do you wish to continue.?"
“Yes” said Eladari, with a growing flutter in her stomach.
“Then ready yourself.”
She took off her clothes, and folded them into a little pile.
Then she stepped forward toward the first ring.
“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?" said the Green Sister
in front of her.
“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister," said
Sabine Sedai in answer.
"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." With the last
sentence, the room was silent. Eladari could hear her own heart
beating, faster than usual. She was afraid.
Sabine turned to her.
"The first time is for what was. The way back will come but
once. Be steadfast."
Eladari took a big breath then stepped forward into the first
Flash…Eladari was back in her old house in Caemlyn,
just outside the palace walls. She was so proud of living in a
real house, unlike some of the other palace kids who had to live in
the palace. As usual, she was sitting in her room, happily doing
cross-stitch while daydreaming of cute guys around the palace and
gazing out the window at the beautiful blue sky. Eladari’s
parents were out, but her 6 year old brother, Brandel was home.
Suddenly she heard a scream from downstairs.
The way back will come but once.
Eladari ignored the voice, not even thinking twice about it.
Brandel was screaming! Eladari leaped up, tore open the door of
her room and raced out. There was smoke in the house! Be
Coughing hard, she made her way downstairs. Flames were
starting to lick up the walls at the bottom of the stairs.
“Brandel!” yelled Eladari, “Brandel! Where are you???”
She heard him scream again, “Eladari! HELP!”
Eladari raced to the kitchen, fighting flames to get in. She was
burning up from the heat, she was so afraid the flames would get
her. But she had to get to Brandel, no matter what. She had the
chance to save him this time. She finally made her way in, and saw
Brandel lying on the floor. His face and chest were all burned. He
was lying there groaning. Her dear little brother!
He saw her, and groaning, said, “Help me Eladari, help me.”
His eyes held hers so steadily.
Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Eladari saw a flicker. It
was a silver arch. The were flames licking the walls and floor all
around it. Eladari looked back at her brother. His face was all
contorted with pain. She couldn’t leave him, not this time, not
ever. And she was so afraid of the fire, she couldn’t get
through to the arch. She looked again to her brother. She could save
him! She looked to the arch.
Crying hard, and very scared, Eladari raced to the arch, jumping
over and through the fire. Finally with one big jump she went
through, leaving her brother lying on the burning floor.
Flash… Eladari tumbled onto the floor, weeping hard.
She felt water over her head, but no pain on her arms from the
“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."
“I could’ve saved him… I could’ve saved him…” Eladari
Finally she composed herself enough and stood to face the second
"The second time is for what is. The way back will come but
once. Be steadfast."
Bravely, she stepped through, trying not to think of what would be
waiting for her.
Flash… Eladari was hurrying along the corridor’s, in
search of her mentor, Mierin Sedai. She was dressed in the
7-banded dress of an Accepted. She searched through the green
quarters, then headed down to the entrance hall. As she approached
from a side hallway, she noticed a build-up in tension. There was
something going on in the main hall. She stepped slowly out from a
side pillar. There stood Mierin Sedai, concentrating on another
woman. The other woman was an Aes Sedai, but she seemed…
Eladari hesitantly approached Mierin Sedai, to ask her a question.
“And who is this, Mierin?” demanded the other Aes Sedai.
“None of your business Cynara.” replied Mierin harshly.
Without looking away from Cynara, Mierin whispered to Eladari,
“El, get out of here! It’s not safe right now. Go run and get
Eladari looked from Mierin to Cynara, starting to become afraid. The
way back will come but once. She ignored the voice,
concentrating on her mentor.
“But… why? Mierin, what’s wrong???” Quickly, Mierin made a
little symbol with her hands. It was one that meant Black Ajah.
Eladari was very afraid.
“Go away girl,” said Cynara, pointing to Eladari, “This
doesn’t concern you.”
Suddenly, a thin, brilliantly white liquid bar of light shot from
Cynara’s outstretched hand towards Eladari. Quick as anything,
Mierin pushed Eladari to the floor, out of the way. But the bar
struck Mierin, and she went down, writhing in agony.
“MIERIN!” screamed Eladari. Suddenly, a silver arch appeared
across the floor from Eladari.
Cynara, laughing cruelly, stepped through a door she’d made
and disappeared, leaving Eladari beside Mierin.
“Eladari, stay with me,” said Mierin very weakly, “The
pain… it hurts… Eladari, promise me…”
“What Mierin?” said Eladari, ignoring the little nagging
“Promise me…. Promise me that I will be avenged…”
“I…. I… can’t!” said Eladari, weeping from fear and
grief. She leaped up, sobbing, and ran to the arch. The last thing
she heard before she ran through was Mierin, yelling for her.
Flash… She was back in the Tower room. The chalice of
water was 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
Eladari couldn’t stop crying. First her brother, then her
mentor… But she had to finish. There was still one more arch to
She gathered herself for the final arch.
"The third time is for what will be. The way back will come
but once. Be steadfast."
Flash… Eladari was in the streets of Caemlyn. She was
walking hurriedly with Tanya. They were both Aes Sedai of the
Green Ajah, but they weren’t wearing their rings today. They
were pursuing two other women, women from the Black Ajah. The
Black Aes Sedai had always been a hidden rumor in the White Tower,
but Taya and Eladari knew them to be true. Eladari thought back to
her days as a novice. They seemed like so long ago that her and
Tanya were giggling behind their hands.
The way back will come but once.
Suddenly she came back to the present. Tanya was saying
fiercely, “Eladari, the women have split up! One went that
way,” she pointed down a side street, “and the other went
ahead. What should we do?”
Eladari had to make a quick decision. “Let’s split up. They
won’t be going too far from each other. If you need help, just
call for me. I’ll hear you.” They’d figured out a trick in
their early years as Aes Sedai to somehow talk to one another
through distance. But they’d never been able to explain it to
Eladari hurried quickly down the side-street after the one woman.
She caught sight of her just ahead. Eladari followed the woman as
she turned down alley after alley.
Suddenly she felt/heard Tanya calling to her. She was in trouble!
Eladari abandoned her chase, and raced towards where Tanya said
As Eladari reached an alleyway, she saw a woman, standing over
Tanya. Tanya’s eyes were wide with pain and terror. As Eladari
embraced saidar, she suddenly saw a doorway appear, standing in
the street nearby. Be steadfast.
Eladari looked at Tanya. She’d seen Eladari, and had hope in her
eyes. Eladari knew Tanya would never call out though, or else
she’d give her away. Eladari was torn. She didn’t know what to
do! It was her mission to destroy the Black Ajah! But this
isn’t for real said a little voice in her head. She noticed
the doorway again. Then she forced herself to run towards it. She
glanced one last time to Tanya, who had surprise and fear written
on her face. She started to scream as the woman towering over her
put all her force on her. Eladari ran through the doorway and was
engulfed in light.
Flash…. She stumbled out and fell to the floor, with
Tanya’s scream still ringing in her mind. She realised that she
was crying. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” she whispered,
sobbing into her hands. Finally she calmed down and stood to face
the last chalice.
The water was poured over her head by the Amyrlin.
“You are washed clean, Eladari Menaka of 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 Eladari Menaka, Accepted
of the White Tower. You are sealed to us now.”
Eladari stood bravely, but ignoring all the faces around her. All
she could think about were those she’d left behind. The 3 people
she cherished most...