November, 2000






Trel Anneleiku

Eldari Menaka



December Arches         back to Library






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 continue?"

"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 to speak.

"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 steadfast."

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 over her.

"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 now."

Paksenarrion gratefully put on the banded dress of an Accepted and took the ring and put it on the finger she was told to.

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 Anneleiku

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 eyes.

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 then,
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- no?

"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," Phrygiana replied

"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." Ri-iiiight.

"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, already!*

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 steadfast."

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 room.

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 wearing.

"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 steadfast."

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 some-"

"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 here... now..."

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? 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 belt.

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? 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 attacked.

"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 of use.

"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 denied it.

"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 continue.

"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 help..."

"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" 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 sister...

"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 urgent now.

"...can give life...and preserve it...." Velocymey's voice was barely audible. steadfast...

"...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 you...?"

" 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 around.... 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 right hand.

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.



Eldari Menaka

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 tower.
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."

Eladari nodded.

Sabine continued.
“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 ring….

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 steadfast.

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.

Be steadfast.

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 fire.

“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 was sobbing.
Finally she composed herself enough and stood to face the second arch.

"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… different.
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 help!”
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.

Be steadfast.

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 voice.

“Promise me…. Promise me that I will be avenged…”

Be steadfast!

“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 soul."

Eladari couldn’t stop crying. First her brother, then her mentor… But she had to finish. There was still one more arch to do.
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 anyone else.

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 she was.

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...