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The Arches of Accepted Bonaiv

Far within the depths of the Shining Walls of Tar Valon, hidden in the nooks and crannies of the White Tower’s vast Library of books, Bonaiv Arra searched. She searched for the knowledge that seemed just beyond her fingertips. Feeling that there was more to the story of her life than met with the common knowledge that her now dead father, Josif Arra, had bestowed upon her, Bonaiv yearned to find something, anything that would spark the memories she knew existed. Persistent yearnings and images had filled her mind causing an ever-increasing acceptance that there was much more to be told and this was enveloping her daily routines. As a Novice, she had little time for her own quests, but today she had been given the day off by as a celebration honoring the raising of Madeline leFay al'Roise to the position of Mistress of Novices.

Relief had washed over Bonaiv, she liked Zhareen Sedai well enough, but occasionally her helper Dailiah had been more than overbearing. Thank the Light Dailiah is now on some mission studying some disease far away. She definitely had learned to step wide of that Yellow Sister. Her mind drifted to the encounter between them on her first day at the Tower, the same day she had met Jaildren, Adelle, Haelyn, and Gleen. My what a night that was. Light, why did I yell at Arwyn? How could I be so stupid? Bonaiv thanked her lucky stars for her free day, and searched through the stacks of books in the Library that Xandrea & Laniya had suggested.

Books on the Age of Legends with actual text from that Age were hard to come by. Luckily, the White Tower had many of the ones still in existence. Bonaiv had been lucky enough in her travels with her father to stop in Cairhien and read from the books in their magnificent Library. The last time she had stopped there was right after her trip to the Aiel Waste. Three-Fold-Land. She corrected her thoughts. She was now bound as first-sisters to Zyriam and Jasmydt, and had been for almost four years. That was right before the trip to Amador, and my coming to the White Tower. “Oh, if I had only known then what I know now.” Bonaiv mumbled as she flipped through a book on the Age of Legends trying to decipher words in the Old Tongue.

“That my dear Novice is something I have heard from many a woman.” Madeline Sedai’s voice took Bonaiv by surprise and the Novice squeaked and dropped into an immediate curtsey.

“Greetings, Madeline Sedai.” Bonaiv rose from her curtsey, “Congratulations on your appointment to the position of Mistress of Novices, Aes Sedai.” Bonaiv beamed love and approval at the one Sister besides Xandrea she felt most akin to. Madeline had a mystery about her, as if she belonged to no land, and to no people, only the White Tower, and Bonaiv wondered what amazing things those stunning blue eyes had witnessed.

“Why, thank you, child.” Madeline looked slightly amused, “You did not like Zhareen Sedai?”

Bonaiv’s face went blank with terror, “Oh, no, no that isn’t what I meant at all, Aes Sedai. No, not in the least. Zhareen Sedai was, was…” Bonaiv was at a loss for words, “I am just thankful that when she resigned that Dailiah Sedai was not chosen to replace her.” With those words Bonaiv’s eyes grew as large as Tar Valon marks and she slapped her own hand over her mouth. She immediately fell into a very deep curtsey, her skirts spread about her, “Madeline Sedai, please excuse my impertinence. I meant no slander against Dailiah Sedai. I…I…” She looked up at Madeline Sedai whose face was turned the other direction while she was suppressing a rather large smile, “I best shut my mouth before I say anything else offensive.”

“Ah, yes, that is an astute observation.” Madeline said removing the smile from her face and becoming more formal. “Perhaps that growth into a more mature understanding is why I have sought you out today, Bonaiv.”

Bonaiv looked at Madeline with an arched brow and a slightly cocked head. She had not idea her life was about to change.

“Bonaiv, it is time. You will come with me now, without question.” Madeline turned and glided down the corridor, out of the Library, and Bonaiv only paused a moment before falling into step behind her.

They made their way down several flights of stairs, into a warren of dusty corridors carved deep into the bedrock of the Tower, were rows of packed storerooms and unused meeting halls were locked tightly away. The warm air turned stale and chill, and their footsteps echoed hollowly against bare stone.

They paused before a pair of thick double doors, carved with the curving Great Serpent. Madeline turned to give a reassuring smile to Bonaiv, surely knowing that this Testing would be painful indeed. This would not be easy, but of course, it never was.

The great vaulted chamber was a familiar sight to Madeline, but the three silver arches still gave her a sense of quiet awe. Aes Sedai with their fringed shawls were seated about the ter’angreal, focusing on the glow that ebbed and flared from within.

Madeline turned to face Bonaiv, and spoke in a clear, formal voice.

“Bonaiv, I must tell you now what no woman hears until they reach this point. The first is this. Once you choose to begin, you must see this through until the end. If at any point during, you decide you cannot go on, we will see you put out from the Tower, never to return, with enough silver to last a year. “Second. To seek, to strive, is to know danger. Some women have entered the rings, and never came out. When the ter’angreal was allowed to quiet, they were simply not there. And they were never seen again. If you would survive, you must be steadfast. Falter, fail…” She met Bonaiv’s eye squarely.

“This is your last chance to refuse, child. You do so now, and will have two more chances to continue. It is not a dishonor. What do you wish to do?”

“I wish to continue, Aes Sedai,” Bonaiv said, without hesitation. Madeline smiled, giving a slight nod of her head. Bonaiv removed and set aside her Novice dress, and as they stepped forward, an Aes Sedai with a yellow-fringed shawl approached, it was Sedore Sedai, who had taught Bonaiv her first Air Lesson. The Sister hardly acknowledged her.

“Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” she said.

“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.”

“Is she ready?”

“She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.”

“Does she know her fears?”

“She has never faced them, but now is willing.”

“Then let her face her fears.”

Bonaiv stepped forward, and in a surge of white light, was gone.

For What Was

“All rise and give attention to the High Council on Research & Development. Bring forth in knowledge, learn to remember, endeavor to grow.” Slamming the long staff into the marble floor the Esquire of the Council opened the Year’s sessions on Research & Development appointments by the Hall of Servants.

On the Council were many note worthy names of the day Nemene Damendar Boann, Khayle Alaspyne Valari, Mierin Eronaile, Ishar Morrad Chuain, and of course the Tamrilyn, Lews Therin Telamon. It was a day of great excitement when Sarachine Dramenti had been called before the Council. The Hall of Servants appointments to the Collam Daan were an occasion to note, for future leaders were born from these appointments. Even Lews Therin had received an appointment, and he himself once told a crowd of gathered Aes Sedai, that if it had not been for his appointment he doubted he would be Tamrilyn.

Standing quickly, Sarachine smoothed her flowing lavender dress and quickly pulled her compact from her pocket, checking herself in the mirror. Her long brown hair was swept back in ringlets away from her face, her jade green eyes large and round. She had a pert slightly unturned nose that sat just above a pair of full pink lips. Her face was heart shaped with a small pointy chin dimpled with a cleft. Overall she was petite as were most of the women in her family. She stared at herself suddenly not recognizing herself. Why do I have green eyes? What’s my name? Bonaiv? Sarachine?. She shook her head and tried to think, put was brought back to reality quickly as Nigel elbowed her in the ribs. Everything came back to her. Yes, this is right. She recalled her years of service under Lews Therin as Tamrylin, and the many time she had appeared before him in the Hall of Servants. She remembered her youth in Mar Ruois and how she had met Nigel for the first time.

“We are gathered here to day to honor the appointees of the Collam Daan, and add the honor of the third name which they so rightfully deserve. Attend our designations with highest regard as they hold ready to give for the seventh generation, themselves, wholly and utterly to the advancement of community, their life for mankind.” Nemene Damendar Boann was always one for following the traditional forms of appointment and she called forth the names. “Micah Jas Telrindo, Edicah Tel Farstige, Sobertos Frinter Chi, and last but not least” Nemene Damendar Boann paused and turned and looked from Sarachine Dramenti to Saine Tarasind and smiled.

Saine turned to Sarachine, “My moment has come, finally.”

Sarachine too felt her moment had come, her life’s ambitions were finally coming to fruition and she knew she deserved this moment, yet she knew Saine deserved it as well. From the tips of her toes to the top of her head, she felt that her entire life had led to this auspicious occasion. Her eyes welled with tears and she almost felt faint as the heat rushed to her face.

Nemene Damendar Boann smiled and said, “Sarachine Dramenti DuRuois”.

The world was silent for Sarachine. The crowd around her bounded to their feet, and the trumpets and horns blared as the last of the appointees was named. She heard nothing but the pounding of her heart in her ears. She felt as if she were going to sick up right there on the banquet table. Finally, my time has come. She looked to Saine who looked utterly crestfallen, and tossed aside like an old shoe.

The way back will come but once.

She stood and let the crowd applaud her. One after the next congratulated her and expressed their wishes to discuss various proposals with her. Each of the Council members came to her side and kissed her on both of her cheeks. She could not be happier, yet her heart went out to Saine. She looked about for her and could not find her anywhere. She saw her standing off to the side locked in a staring match with three of the Council members.

Nemene Damendar Boann’s wicked smile was matched only by Mierin Eronaile’s, and Ishar Morrad Chuain’s, all three seemed to be enjoying Saine’s disappointment which Saine struggled to hide. Her eyes passed over the three hideous countenances, and found Lews Therin. His eyes held joy for the appointees and utter pity for Saine.

Poor Saine. Sarachine rushed to Saine’s side and embraced her. She could not believe it.

“I have sunk so low as to receive pity from the man who had once treated me like his love and then threw me over for Mierin.” Saine gripped Sarachine’s arm.

“I am sure that your relationship with him played no part in the decision that was made today. Next year, Saine, you will…”

“Next year! Always next year!” Saine hissed at Sarachine.

Saine turned and walked toward the door trying to escape before the assembled crowd blocked her flight route. Sarachine followed after her, ignoring the congratulatory remarks that came her way, turning and walking down the hallway towards the Council’s Library, she began to feel her knees weaken and her breath come in violent gasps, guilt for her own successes washing over her. Making her way down the hall, Sarachine found Saine clinging to a pillar in the hall for support as she cried and cried humiliated again of her own unworthiness.

“Saine?” Sarachine approached her, a comforting hand on her shoulder. Saine looked up at her, tears in her eyes.

“Why me?” Saine’s voice was weak; the voice of a shattered woman. The hallway was silent.

“You are unsuitable for research.” Nemene Damendar Boann’s voice pierced the silence of the hallway. Saine turned to face the dark skinned Aes Sedai. Sarachine was sure that is was Nemene whom had denied Saine the appointment.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

“I am not! And you know it! This is some sick twisted game with you and your cronies. You deny me because you fear that my own discoveries will outshine your pitiful achievements. You fear the world will remember the name of Nemene Damendar Boann with regret and praise the name of Saine Tarasind!” Saine spat the words at the black skinned woman that she had learned to hate over the years.

“Hardly, Saine. You have lost perspective. Face the facts, Saine. You will find yourself lecturing about discoveries made by others, disseminating old knowledge. That is all you are good for, and deep within you know it!” It was obvious that Nemene Damendar Boann’s voice cut Saine to the quick, and Mierin’s giggle, so crystalline and clear as were her eyes, chimed in the wideness of the hall and alerted the arguing pair to her presence. Sarachine watched as three of the most powerful Aes Sedai stood before her, a new appointee, arguing like spoiled greedy children.

Mierin and Nemene hardly liked each other, but they seemed in agreement when it came to their appointees. “You should know, Saine,” Mierin’s giggle burned Saine’s ears, “It was not a unanimous vote against you.”

“I know that Khayle would be the only one to see the truth of the matter!” Saine spit her words at the pair of women she hated with a consuming fire.

“Who said Khayle voted FOR YOU!” Nemene’s manner of speech was like a dagger twisting in Saine’s heart.

“Now Sisters, this is unbecoming of our status. We need not argue of such things. Besides, is not the vote of the Council supposed to be anonymous?” Sarachine stepped in between the very tall and dark Nemene and the shorter paler Saine.

“You should mind your own business, Sarachine.” Saine snapped at her.

“And why are you snapping at me of all people? I am coming to your defense.” Sarachine’s mild annoyance with Saine was beginning to grow.

“I do NOT need you to defend ME.” Saine eyes were cold but her voice burned with passion and fire. “You, think they chose you because you deserve the position. Do you? They chose you specifically to deny me.” She screamed at Sarachine and at Nemene.

The way will come but once

Sarachine began to feel very annoyed and angry snapped, “I deserved every appointment that has ever been given to me. I think YOU should wake up to the reality that you are what Nemene says you are.”

“I do not need you to take MY side, Sarachine.” Nemene’s dark face held no thanks and virtual no understanding. She was cold through and through, and Bonaiv actually felt some malevolence in her glare. Mierin smiled as Nemene spoke despite her hate for the dark woman as well. Saine huffed and flared her nose send hate full eyes and all of them.

“Just you wait! I will have my revenge against each of you in this life or the next.” Saine smacked each of the women simultaneously with a flow of Air and stomped away, “You’ll regret the day you came up against me, Sarachine. You will never escape my wrath!”

“How utterly Aes Sedai.” Sarachine rubbed her cheek and turned to Mierin and Nemene who walked away from her laughing and relating the story to the crowd that had gathered.

Sarachine looked around and knew not what to do. She felt embarrassed, and for some odd reason she felt a bit of guilt over Saine’s suffering. But how have I truly wronged her? Why would any Aes Sedai want to hurt another? Seek revenge in this life or the next?

A glittering archway appeared to her left, but all Sarachine could hear was Mierin and Nemene’s laughter, and the building laughter of the crowd. Sarachine blinked and rose her finger as if to shake it at them and begin the argument again, but she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror within the hallway and was suddenly startled by her own image. Sarachine? Who is Bonaiv? The archway flickered and she heard Madeline Sedai’s voice.

The way will come but once…be steadfast.

Bonaiv blinked and ran towards the flickering and fading archway and threw herself through it. Landing with a thud, Bonaiv felt the cool stone beneath her body, and looked up as green slippers approached her. Comforting hand lifted her to a standing position and the pitcher of water poured over her head. “Well, at least that wipes the sweat away.” She mumbled under her breath.

“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.” Madeline Sedai looked over her shoulder at the three arches that hung with the reverberation.

The sound drew Bonaiv’s attention, and she frowned, “Do they always do that? I just don’t understand. I thought I was supposed to face MY fears? I do not even believe that was me in there. Somebody named Sarachine…and why would I be afraid of Nemene and Mierin laughter?” Bonaiv kept mumbling under breath until Madeline Sedai paused at her last words.

“What?” The new Mistress of Novices squinted her eyes and grabbed Bonaiv by the shoulders. “What did you say?”

“Why would I be afraid of Nemene and Mierin’s laughter? I mean, it was Saine who slapped me and told me she would seek revenge in this life or the next.” Bonaiv shrugged as Madeline Sedai mused her quietly.

“Perhaps it is not what they did or said, child, but who they are.”

“But I have no idea who they are. I did not even know who I was while I was in that thing.”

Madeline paused again and then leaned in, “Nemene, Mierin, and Saine are the original names of Semirhage, Lanfear, and Mesaana when they lived in the Age of Legends and were Aes Sedai together.”

Bonaiv began to shake and goosebumps broke out all over her skin, “Okay, NOW I really am afraid.” She shook her head, “The Foresaken…in my past? In my archway?”

“Shhhhhhuuussshh. It’s time for you to proceed, child.” Madeline’s face was again completely calm and Bonaiv did not know if she wanted to proceed. She looked to the Mistress of Novices.

“I cannot decline this second archway, can I?”

Madeline simply shook her head no. Bonaiv sighed and nodded her head.

“The Second is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be Steadfast.”

Bonaiv heard the Mistress of Novice’s words and ran for the second archway, teeth bared and growling as her first-sister Zyriam would have done.

For What Is

“The second time is for what is.” The Mistress of Novices announced. “The way back will come but once. Be steadfast." And so Bonaiv stepped through the second Arch and was again blinded and seared by the Light.

Bonaiv awoke on her first “real” day as a Accepted not having to muck the stable as a punishment. I can’t believe me an Accepted while I was still on punishment from being discovered drinking in my quarters with Nigel. Her bed was hard, just like the one in the wagon she had lived in most of her young life. How refreshing. The thought made her a bit sad and brought on a recollection of her father. No need to worry about Father’s tea any longer? It seems like he died yesterday. Is Dayved Skot, missing me at all? She thought of Dayved and their long hours of singing together. In a groggy state and not yet fully awake, Bonaiv started to hum a tune called ‘Round the Garden I Shall Chase’ that was among Dayved’s favorites. He had mentioned to her that it was a tavern standard in Shienar. She giggled under her breath a bit at the thought of singing like a tavern wench then stopped. That behavior is exactly what Dalilia Sedai had told her was unacceptable.

Bonaiv made her bed and fluffed the lumpy pillow. Tucking in the corners tightly she blew a wayward stand of hair out of her eyes. The floor was hard and cold on her bare feet. A chill ran through her. She internally chastised herself. She should probably dress first before making her bed. This Tower seemed cold to Bonaiv standing there in her shift.

A knock at her door tore her from her thoughts. Bonaiv hurriedly dressed not having time to brush her hair. She smoothed her Accepted’s dress. A dark haired intense looking Novice with pitch-black hair and dark skin entered her room. “I bring a message from Xandrea Sedai of the Green Ajah. You are to attend her in her rooms immediately. Don’t bother going to breakfast.” The Novice did not introduce herself, turned and huffed out of the room as if relieved of a chore she found distasteful. Bonaiv had only been Accepted for a few weeks, but the Novice’s lack of respect bothered her slightly.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

Bonaiv swallowed hard. Xandrea Sedai of the Green Ajah. That was the same Ajah as Trichelle Sedai. Maybe she will know what became of the Sister that had brought her?

Bonaiv turned to her mirror and quickly brushed and braided her hair into a long queue and then wound it into flower shaped bun on top of her head. She looked at herself in the mirror again. This hairstyle always made her look older in her own estimation. She placed her favorite butterfly hair combs around the intricate basket of braided hair that resembled an orchid. Two butterflies meeting at a flower; that’s what her braided hair reminded her of. She pinched her arm to remind herself of where she was. She was not here to impress men, but to become Aes Sedai. She took out the combs and but them back into her bags. She wouldn’t be wearing those for a long time. No jewelry for Novices, but Accepted could wear a little, very little. Best not push it yet, it’s too soon. Bonaiv took out her plain wooden combs, also in the shape of butterflies and replaced them neatly in her hair. She took a deep breath and headed for the quarters of the Green Ajah.

When she approached the Green Ajah’s quarters, the same Novice who had delivered the message was waiting for her. They proceeded through the doors and towards Xandrea Sedai’s rooms. Bonaiv wondered at the beautiful green and white checked tile and the alcoves of Sea Folk porcelain that lined some of the walls. A portrait of an Aes Sedai wielding the One Power and fighting Trollocs in tremendous numbers caught her eye.

The other Novice stopped at a door and knocked. A crystalline voice purred, “Come in.”

“I have done as you asked, Xandrea Sedai.” The dark haired Novice curtseyed and waited for a pleased response but did not receive one.

“Take this basket of clothing. Wash all of it. Be sure to mend the holes in those two pairs of stockings and be quick about it.” Xandrea spoke quickly and curtly to the dark haired Novice who jumped out of her curtsey and was off in a flash.

“So, Bonaiv, Trichelle Sedai has written me about you. I will come to my point and then you must be off to the Mistress of Novice’s office to check the lesson board. Sit quickly and have a muffin.” Xandrea Sedai sat in a puffy green armchair with her feet on an ottoman, sewing a quilt swathed with flowers, birds, and clouds. She put down her needle and drank from a cup of fine Sea Folk porcelain. “I know of your abilities, Wilder, and I have and will be watching you carefully. I too was a Wilder such as you and I know what problems can arise from it. You will constantly have to prove yourself to other Sisters from more…suitable beginnings and that may be tough. Watch your impatience, and that nasty habit you have of flirting with every man you lay eyes on. Trichelle Sedai told me everything, young woman, and we will not have Compulsion being used in this Tower, ever, understood!” Xandrea did not miss a beat. She drank her tea and continued, “Close your mouth girl, you looked like a big mouth bass, and eat your muffin. Now, you will not be seeing Trichelle Sedai again for quite possibly a long time. She asked me to watch over you as she has pressing duties in Kandor. I know that she promised your Aunt that she would watch over you here and she has fulfilled her promise by passing it on to me. You will report to me weekly on your progress. I will see to it that you have plenty of chores to break that spoiled Daddy’s girl spirit of yours and be sure to note that nothing gets by me, child. If you thought the stables were bad, you have not experienced Madeline Sedai’s worst punishment yet, or mine!” A little nibble at a pastry and Xandrea was back on her pulpit working on Bonaiv. “Vanity is deplorable, and from what Trichelle Sedai says it is among your worst and most prevalent traits. Be sure you keep it in check, child.” It was quite plain that Xandrea Sedai did not approve of the hairstyle. Was it just too different or individualistic? “You need to be meek as a lamb and unflinching in your desire to please, do you hear me? Answer me child or has the cat got your tongue?”

“Yes, Aes Sedai.” Bonaiv jumped out of her chair trembling and wobbled into a curtsy and fell face first onto the floor crushing her muffin beneath her. “As you say, Aes Sedai.”

Bonaiv lowered her head and dusted the crumbs of her muffin into her hand and not onto the Aes Sedai’s beautiful Tairen maze rug that was in the middle of the floor. She swallowed hard and looked up at Xandrea Sedai. Although she could not place the age of the woman, she must have been old as she had graying temples and small streaks of gray in her hair. Bonaiv had heard Aes Sedai had that ageless face and that they didn’t go gray until they were reaching an older age. Something else about Xandrea Sedai caught Bonaiv’s attention. Xandrea’s accent reminded her of her father! Maybe Xandrea was Andorian and Shienarian also?

Xandrea was quite pleased that she had made herself clear to this child. “You will need to practice that curtsey and work on your gracefulness, child. Didn’t anybody ever teach you?” Xandrea Sedai asked.

“No, Xandrea Sedai.”

“What about your Aunt that sent Trichelle Sedai to find you?”

“I only lived with her from age 5 to age 7, and she really did not like me or take an interest in me at all. She found me to be more a nuisance, and really never spoke to me. She dislikes children thoroughly and never had any of her own.”

“Well then. You need to learn how. Study others here who do a proper curtsy and learn quickly! Now, go and start checking that lesson board, you’ve already spent to much time dawdling in the stables. I will see you next week, same time, do not make me wait for you.” With a sniff and glance Xandrea dismissed Bonaiv.

Bonaiv practically flew out of the Green Ajah’s quarters and headed for any place away from the tyrannt of a Green Sister. She passed so many Accepted and Novices she hardly heard the few hellos and good mornings that wafted after her. She started to feel a little sick to her stomach. She had never intended to touch the One Power. She never intended to Compel men into buying that damn silk. She never intended on hurting that good wife or healing her, or flirting with Trichelle’s Warder. She had no clue what she was doing; didn’t even know she was touching the Source. How could I be a Wilder?

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

She wondered where Zyriam and Mackenzie were; most likely at breakfast or finished with it and on their way to classes. Wandering towards the kitchen Bonaiv stopped at the dining hall and grabbed a quick bite. She thought of Nigel. Xandrea and Trichelle were probably right, she did flirt with every man she met. But how was she to stop that if she didn’t even know she was doing to? What about Nigel? Wake up, Bonaiv! She needed something to do to take her mind off of her meeting with Xandrea Sedai.

Bonaiv rounded the corner down the hall from Madeline Sedai’s office. She hoped there would an interesting lesson or lecture on something, anything at all. She was hungry for knowledge and really wanted to start her training. Dry washing her hands to bring warmth back to them and stop them from trembling, Bonaiv thought of all the things she was dying to speak with Zyriam about. She peered at the lesson board searching for something interesting, exciting!

Bonaiv’s eyes suddenly spied a class announcement on Tower History and Law given in the first floor library conference room. She needed something to take her mind off her chastisement that still replayed itself in her head. She walked to her class and her stomach rumbled then churned. That muffin was not going to settle her stomach, what little crumbs she ate of it anyway.

Bonaiv took a detour through the dining hall and had a bowl of fruit, some cereal, a piece of bread with butter and some tea. She felt much better having a full stomach. Her nerves had repaired themselves, she was no longer trembling, and she was off to meet the class on at the first floor library conference room. She arrived and found most of the space around the table filled with maps to be taken by earlier arrivals. She sat on a bench nearest the windows and against the wall. The two Aes Sedai at the front of the room looked as though they could be twin sisters and Sisters, and from Tarabon. At least the Brown Sister was definitely from Tarabon, Bonaiv could tell by her accent. She introduced herself as Kylean Sedai. They both wore thin veils across the lower portion of their faces and had the clingiest thin silk dresses, Bonaiv blushed. That is probably what she looked like in the dark green gown she had in her quarters, veil and all.

The class settled in and the Sisters began. One spoke about court in Tarabon and in Cairhien and how it had operated for the last four hundred years. The other translated the first Sister’s speech into the Old Tongue. The graphic and detailed lesson spilled forth from both of the Sisters. Details on etiquette and its landscape of politics, tactics for word games and spinning the truth when trapped by the Three Oaths, all fascinating yet it was confusing to listen to both stories both languages. But, the Sisters worked well together. After about an hour, Bonaiv was becoming a bit distracted by the soreness in her rump. Her body was used to constant labor now and sitting seemed to make her stiff and tired, not to mention the heavy breakfast made her eyelids feel heavier than bricks.

“Okay, there will be a ten minute break,” The Green Sister chimed and wove a refreshing flow of Air scented with mint through the room along with the sound of actual chimes that mimicked her own speech. Bonaiv found the Green Sister to be nothing like the imagined ‘typical’ Green Sister she had met so far in Trichelle and Xandrea Sedai. Weren’t all Green’s just, just….she didn’t know how to classify the Green’s…bold? Strong personalities with there own agenda’s and personal beliefs that compel them to fight for the Light. Or was that just a trait all Aes Sedai shared? Bonaiv started to drift and her eyelids became brick yet again.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

“Thank you Aes Sedai,” The class responded in unison as Novices and Accepteds alike stood and stretched. Bonaiv made a beeline for the water jar standing on the table in the corner. It was warm in that classroom and she was beginning to feel sleepy, well maybe comatose was more of a description she thought to herself. Maybe a full breakfast wasn’t such a good idea? She wondered what Zyriam was doing right now. When could she lie down again? The meeting with Xandrea Sedai had zapped her strength and her basic interest in going on with the day, or was that just the need for constant exercise finally settling into her? She started to have a slow drumming headache.

Bonaiv decided to continue on with the class even though her head was pounding out a Tinker’s tune on her temples. An Aes Sedai had to learn how to concentrate even through adversity and possible illness. She returned to her bench and the Sister’s lecture resumed and turned toward the discussion of acceptable use of blackmail, reserving alternative plans, and the need for high powered supporters. Bonaiv’s eyes slide ever closer to the completely shut position. Where was Zyriam, or Mackenzie? Bonaiv tried staying awake and looked around the room accessing Novices and Accepteds she did not know.

Bonaiv leaned back again the wall and overheard a few of the women she didn’t know very well talking about her. Accepted Arwyn’s voice was rather clear, “I heard she was caught drinking in her room when she was a Novice. She had a boy in her room as well.”

“She’s such a hussy.”

“A tramp really.”

“Obviously a Green.”

“If she even passes the Test for Aes Sedai. You think Madeline Sedai would ever let a tramp like her into her ranks as a member of her Ajah?”

“That Bonaiv…what a disgrace to the White Tower!”

Just as Bonaiv’s eyes began to tear up a glowing archway appeared over near the blackboard. Her heart pounded with guilt and shame and she hated herself for all of the unwomanly things she had done, and for the reputation she had begun to accumulate. All she ever wanted was to have friends and be liked. She would be the most hated Sister in the Tower if this kept up. She walked her way to the archway and through herself through it hoping it would obliterate her with its molten hot light. A searing white pain shot through her as she fell to her knees about side of the testing ter’angeal’s archway.

She gave a start as water was 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.”

For What Will Be

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

Bonaiv rose and walked through the final archway and again the blinding light consumed her.

A small group of Aes Sedai and Gaidin were gathered around her, Bonaiv eyed the twisted doorway wearily. The others had come out okay so far, and she was confident that she too would be fine if she followed the rules as they had been laid out before her. How do I know the rules to this place if I don’t know where this place is? The tall redstone doorframe, loomed oddly in the shadows cast by Bonaiv’s blue globe of Spirit that floated above her head in the room. She tied off the weave so that it would stay there if she left the room, which walking through the doorframe would certainly constitute leaving there for somewhere, wherever that somewhere was. She mused what the other side would be like for her. Another reality?

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

When Bonaiv walked closer to the doorway, it still looked odd. Twisted, somehow so that her eye could not, no would not want to follow it around; the corners did not join right. The tall hollow rectangle seemed likely to fall over, but she knew that it was sturdy. She hesitated then put her right foot through, then her left. She felt like she had stepped through a sheet of brilliant white light, infinitely bright, infinitely thick, and very much like the ter’angreal that was used to test Novices for Accepted. For a moment that lasted an eternity, she felt blind and heard a roaring sound in her ears, and nothing else, not even her own pulse. The similarities made her remark out loud to herself, as she was now by herself in a great circular room. The doorframe to her back. She stood with it at the center of a great round hall with a tremendously high ceiling. Her cranked her neck to look up at it, but could not see the top of it. She mused about where it ended or if it ended at all. To her, the room appeared to be a smoky yellow color, golden, or old and worn by the light that seemed to come from some orbs in the room. She couldn’t feel heat and did not know how the light was generated.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, the White Ajah lesson that she had on reasoning came forward and caused her to stop. She could hear Kellie Sedai, now long dead, talking about not believing ones own senses. “Logic dictates, you must consider all your senses and make note, but then realize that your senses are imperfect and can be tricked. Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men. Die Logik muss für sich selber sorgen.. (Logic must take care of itself).” Bonaiv recalled how Kellie Sedai always quoted things in ancient dead languages to prove her point. She could have been a Brown Sister, ah, but her temperament and mind demanded the White, now didn’t it!

Bonaiv was startled when a figure appeared from seemingly out of thin air. The figure spoke with a breathy, harsh pronunciation. “Along time, yet the seekers come again for answers. The questioners come once more.” The figure blinked its black snake like eyes, and Bonaiv’s skinned just about crawled right off of her. “Good. You have brought no lamps, no torches, as the agreement was, and is, and ever will be. You have no iron? No instruments of music?”

Bonaiv settled herself and straightened her skirts. She cleared her throat and was amazed that her voice sounded steady, “I have brought nothing that violates the agreement of old. I have come to ask my questions. Please lead me to those that can answer them.”

“According to the agreement. Come” The figure beckoned Bonaiv to follow it with a long-fingered hand, very thin, with yellowed skin like the underbelly of a snake. “Follow, questioner.”

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

Bonaiv looked around as if she heard a familiar voice, then followed and kept pace with the figure. Just as had been described by the Brown sisters who had studied the doorway back in the days when the First of Mayene used it to guide their people, Bonaiv noticed that this ‘place’, this ‘reality’ did not have any straight lines in it. She tried not to look at all that surrounded her, or smell the pungent stink that filled her nose. She focused on the questions that needed to be asked. She would not be lead astray by the answers that she heard. She would stick to her questions.

Finally, after a long walk done twisting corridors, a room of red and white tiles appeared before her. The room had spiraling floor tiles, and at the center of the spiral were three coiled, spiraling golden pedestals at the heart of the floor spiral. A guide like figure sat upon each, and it looked to Bonaiv like there were two females and one male, that sat cross-legged atop each, wrapped in layers of red. They stared at Bonaiv with intense, penetrating black eyes, and breathed heavily as if taking in Bonaiv’s aroma.

“It has been long,” the woman on the right said.

“Very long,” The woman on the left added.

The man nodded, “Yet they come again.”

The three figures on the pedestals had the same breathy voice of the guide. They spoke in unison. “Enter and ask, according to the agreement of old.”

Bonaiv cleared her throat, and opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She tried again, and finally the words were there, “What can I, as an Aes Sedai, a Sister of the Green Ajah, a believer in truth, justice, and the Light, do to preserve the White Tower?” When did I choose to be a Sister of the Green Ajah Bonaiv looked down at her left hand and stared at her Golden Serpent ring and absentmindedly fingered the long green fringe on her Shawl.

Three sets of slitted eyes lifted from her and studied the air above her head. Finally the woman on the left said, “You should continue with your quest with this in mind… those who are held wise among men, and who search for the reason of things, are those who bring the most sorrow on themselves.” A deep bell tolled. “Ask.”

Bonaiv wondered if she had heard the woman correctly. It didn’t seem that she answered the question, but Bonaiv was not going to ask another like that one, or about the woman’s answer. Will I bring sorrow to myself by continuing the search for the Black Ajah? Why am I searching for the Black Ajah?

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

“Who in the White Tower can I trust the least?” Bonaiv hoped that this did not come too close to asking about the Black Ajah, but she had to take her chance.

The three figures again lifted their eyes to the air above her head, and this time they shuttered. The woman on the right said, “A Novice, an Accepted, a Sitter, a Page, a friend, a man of Power, and a circle of 13.” The bell tolled again. “Ask.” This time the voice was urgent sounding, and mean.

Bonaiv wondered aloud for a moment, “How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there’s no help in truth.” The three figures nodded their heads in agreement and turned their attention to the air above her head again.

“My last question is threefold in nature, in the future, will I marry Nigel Skot my warder, have his children, yet bond another?” Bonaiv held her breath but was not sure that the figures would answer a question of that nature, three-fold that is.

The man figure in the center spoke, “No, you will not marry Nigel, yet you will bare another seven sons and a daughter, this one you will bond only if he sidesteps the fate that is before him to come to you in your moment of need.” The bell tolled for a third and final time.

Bonaiv gasped! The figure on the pedestal spoke again, with a smile to his snake like eyes, “Happiness in the ordinary sense is not what one needs in life, though one is right to aim at it. The true satisfaction is to come through and see those whom one loves come through.”

Bonaiv curtseyed deeply to the figures, and the guide was at her side. “Thank you for your kindness and generosity. You have honored me greatly with your wisdom, and I wish you lasting happiness and prosperity. Blessed be the Light!”

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

On the way back to the twisted doorframe in the yellow and white grand hall, Bonaiv pondered what she had been told. Eight children! Nigel will not be the father! But only if we both survive! She mumbled under her breath and followed the guide. She did not look back as she walked through the doorway and into the basement room of the Tower.

Nigel was there and he grasped her in his arms. “Carneira, we were so worried. You have been in there well over an hour.”

Bonaiv looked at the faces of those who had gone through the doorway ahead of her. “I will never get over that feeling!” She looked up at Nigel, smiled, and wanted to faint dead away in his arms. She hugged him close and mumbled under her breath. Will Nigel die? Why won’t I marry him? Oh, Nigel my love, where is the real truth? Over her shoulder she saw a shimmering archway. She pulled away from Nigel who tried to hold her close and not let her go.

“Bonaiv, what is it, my love? Bonaiv? Carneira?” Nigel’s voice sounded hurt and deserted as Nigel pulled away and headed for the glowing archway. Her heart ached as she left him thinking about the True Fate she had learned while in the Doorway. Light say it is not true!

Into the room with a angry stomp, Bonaiv stepped forth from the Archway. The water poured over her head and she could not bare the thought of what she hadn’t done, and what he had. It is not real? It can’t be real!” She looked up and forward into her future.

"You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us clean, in heart and soul. You are Bonaiv, Accepted of the White Tower." The last spilling down her back and over her hair. "You are sealed to us, now." The words held an ominous promise as Ava leaned over to kiss the pale skinned woman's cheek. Slipping the ring on the third finger of her left hand, Ava tried to give the woman a reassuring smile, but what could one person do when the memories were still fresh? "Congratulations, Accepted Bonaiv."