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The Arches of Accepted Soutrik

Before - Madeline Sedai, Mistress of Novices

Madeline stood looking over a balcony into a small open courtyard, casually adjusting the shawl over her arms as she scanned the group of novices below. The courtyard was just outside the library, set aside for novices to have a place to study on warm days.

She could see Soutrik bent over a large book in her lap, perched on a curved bench with her legs tucked beneath her. A few other novices sat nearby, engrossed in their own studies.

Soutrik looked up, as if she had felt Maddy’s eyes on her small frame. She looked tired, Madeline thought. She met Soutrik’s gaze with a solemn nod, and beckoned slightly with her hand.

Soutrik’s eyes widened slightly, and she closed her book and rose, with a few quiet words to her friends. Madeline met her at the top of the stairs, her hands clasped before her, a look of cool serenity on her square features.

“Greetings, child,” she said. Soutrik dipped a curtsy, and regarded the Aes Sedai with curiousity. Madeline continued without preamble, slipping into the formal tone of the Mistress of Novices.

“Soutrik, it is time. You will come with me now, without question.” She turned and glided down the corridor, and Soutrik 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 Soutrik, knowing that this Testing would be painful indeed. She knew something of the novice’s past, having watched her seated on the Chair of Remorse, and she would not soon forget the stark anguish on Soutrik’s face. 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 Soutrik, and spoke in a clear, formal voice.

“Soutrik, 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 Soutrik’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,” Soutrik said, without hesitation. Madeline smiled, giving a slight nod of her head. Soutrik removed and set aside her novice dress, and as they stepped forward, an Aes Sedai with a yellow-fringed shawl approached.

“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.”

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

For What Was

There were Aes Sedai that she knew here, Mackenzie, Elinha, Lyra, Madeline Sedai, of course.

“Whom do you bring with you, Sister.” The voice spoke within the chamber but Soutrik did not look up to see who had spoken it, she only noticed the Yellow fringe on the Shawl and thought about the impression she was making on a woman who would someday be her fellow Sister of the Yellow.

“One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.” Madeline’s voice was crisp.

“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.”

“The first is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be Steadfast.” Soutrik walked forward and stepped through the arch. The light consumed her and the skin that touched her bracelets felt seared off her body. Coming out of the light she looked down at her wrists and ankles to see what damage the ter’angreals had done to her but they were GONE!

Aloysha stood staring at the slimy charcoal gray stone floor and her feet, which were covered in leather Sharan kick boots. Slowly her eyes made their way over her own body. Skin tight fascia silk trousers came to her mid-chest just under her breasts where they were held there by a gold brocade sash and chord. Her blouse was made of black silk and a high collar and long tight sleeves. Aloysha’s hands searched the pockets of the trousers and found her worry rock, rubbed smooth from years of worry about her sister, Tamara. Unconsciously, at the thought of Tamara, one of Aloysha’s hands went to the curved daggers held in the chest sash. She fingered the hilt with one hand, the other going into her thick, soft, fluffy, afro hair.

A sniffle from across the cold dungeon chamber drew her attention behind her. She turned hearing her own boots slosh across the slimy floor. Her younger sister, by only 10 months, Tamara, sat knees to chest in a bundle on a threadbare mattress on a cot in the corner. Tamara’s face strained and tear drenched shone in the light coming through the slit of a window near the ceiling of the chamber.

“I don’t know what you think this will do. How is this the Will of the Wheel, Aloysha?” Tamara wiped her nose with the back of her hand and the seven ivory jewel laden bracelets clicked with the movements. “Do not think for a second that your life will go unchanged. I know the deal our family has secured for you and for me. No shame will befall the Delphic name but why it is to be you and not Chiape, I will never know.”

“What are you talking about, Tamara? You know that you deserve what is happening to you. The Sh’boan is all-powerful and you have abused your power as such. I am amazed that the Ayyad did not step in sooner.” Aloysha still fingered her daggers even though she knew her sister could not harm her.

“The Ayyad! You think that I abused my power! You have no idea!” Tamara held up her bracelet-laden arms and covered her face with them. She cried and shook her head; them screamed at the top of her lungs, “I have no power, fool!”

That last part knocked Aloysha for a loop. She almost drew her daggers and lunged at her sister, Tamara, “The Ayyad are the keepers of your fortune. They serve you with their every breath, and in every hour of every day. They are the keepers of our law!” Aloysha’s reverence for the Ayyad was like that of all Sharan’s. She was horrified to hear her sister, NO, her Sh’boan speak of the Ayyad in such a way. Every fiber in her well trained being wanted to rip apart this traitor before her eyes apart, but this was her sister; the one that had been chosen to be Sh’boan to represent the Delphic line as had been handed down by the First Daughter of Delphic Hawkwing. Aloysha had known at the age of eight that her younger sister would be the Sharan Sh’boan and had been trained by her father, head bodyguard to the third Sh’botay of the Remnic line, to be her sister’s bodyguard. Now, her sister was a traitor to the very name of the Sh’boan, and to the Delphic line. Chiape, the youngest of the Delphic children, and the only other female in the family was way too young to take on the responsibility to the Sharan people and become Sh’boan. It had fallen to Aloysha, and she did not like the circumstances that surrounded her becoming the Sh’boan, but it was the Will of the Wheel. The Sh’botay had told her thus just last week, before his death, in an odd Foretelling.

“The Ayyad! You are so blind, Aloysha!” Tamara stood and the bracelets on her legs clicked as she stomped towards her older sister.

“Do they not care for you? Look at the wondrous gifts they have bestowed upon your very person!” Aloysha indicated to the seven bracelets on each arm and leg that Tamara wore. The sign of the Sh’boan and Sh’botay for these millennia.

“The bracelets are the strings for the puppet masters to control you with.” Tamara spit the words out and shook with rage. Aloysha was about to smack her for her traitorous talk but the latch on the door behind them turned and Ayyad Teresa entered the room, the dark star tattoos on her face twitched with her obvious irritation.

Aloysha fell prostrate before the entering Ayyad, palms up before her face and moving in a swirling motion speaking in the Low Language that underclass people addressed the Ayyad in, “Ackmas Ayyad! Desar Zara!” (Greater honor to the Ayyad! Thrive Shara!) Aloysha touched her forehead to the slimy floor without even giving it a second thought.

The way back will come but once.

Ayyad Teresa bent down and tapped Aloysha’s shoulder. “That is no longer necessary. You are not of that station any longer, young one.” Teresa’s voice was motherly and kind. Aloysha looked up in surprise and into a very loving face. The Ayyad smiled at her and she rose from her kneeling position. “Please, take the prisoner to the execution block, Aloysha. It is time for the Will of the Wheel to remove the traitors of Shara from the land.”

Aloysha jumped and grabbed hold of her sister and forced her out of the door. Tamara did not fight, but spoke softly, “I will forgive you, for you know not what you do. You have been blinded by lies, but soon enough you will know great sorrow, and I pity you.” Tamara’s voice was soft yet strong and the Ayyad that followed behind the two sisters did not notice the small lecture issuing forth from Tamara, they were engrossed in their own conversations.

“Sister, listen to my voice. You are to become Sh’boan, you must know this. The Sh’botay did not die by my hands.” Tamara pleaded, Aloysha was stone faced.

Aloysha looked at her sister out of the corner of her eye, “I will not hear another word about the Sh’botay’s death.” Aloysha hardened herself against her sister’s plight.

“Well, then, listen to these words and try to be a good leader of our people, I say to you, and I hope you are listening, continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also,” Aloysha almost began to cry as her sister recited the word from their sacred text on love and forgiveness, their Golden Rule that had bound all Shara in peace for 3,000 years. All Sharan people knew it by heart, and the pain of loss began to well with Aloysha. She would be losing her sister when the execution of the traitor was completed. Her sister’s words flowed over her.

“Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask them back. Just as you want a person to do to you, do the same way to them. Moreover, stop judging and you will by no means be judged, and stop condemning and you will by no means be condemned. Keep on releasing and you will be released. Practice giving and people will give to you. They will pour into your lap a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” Tamara stopped as they approached a large wooden platform with a chopping block in the center and a basket in front of the block. A throng of a thousand Ayyad stood around the platform to witness the execution by beheading. No ounce of the One Power was to be used against a traitor who was not a channeler.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Ayyad Teresa took hold of Tamara’s arm and led her up the stairs to the platform. “Do you have any last words?” Ayyad Teresa spoke to Tamara. Tradition dictated that the condemned was allowed to speak their peace regardless of what was said.

“I have but this to say,” Tamara began to quote the holy text again, “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Both will tumble into a pit will they not? A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher.” Tamara’s eyes were fixed on Aloysha, and Aloysha knew these words were meant for her ears. “Why, then, do you look at the straw that is in your sister’s eye, but do not observe the rafter that is in your own eye? How can you say to your sister, ‘Sister, allow me to extract the straw that is in your eye, while you yourself are not looking at the rafter in that eye of yours? Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw that is in your sister’s eye! For there is not a fine tree producing rotten fruit; again there is not a rotten tree producing fine fruit. For each tree is know by its fruit! I have said my peace.” With that Tamara knelt next to the block and with regal dignity placed her head upon it.

Aloysha was not sure she could watch the execution and a glowing archway appeared to her left side. Aloysha turned towards the archway that was drawing only her attention and walked very slowly towards it eyeing it the entire time from a distance. She heard her sister scream at the last moment, “E’li, E’li, la’ma sabachtha’ni?”, then the sound of the axe taking off Tamara’s head and the sound of the 28 bracelets falling off her dead body. I am a coward to the depths of me soul. I let her die!.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Aloysha walked into the archway. Soutrik walked out the other side into the large room in the lower bowels of the White Tower. The light again seared her wrists and ankles, where her bracelet were securely fastened. She shivered and stepped forward as the icy, clear water coursed down her head and body from the silver chalice an Aes Sedai held.

“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 of Soutrik’s bracelets. This was a dangerous thing to do with all of Soutrik’s bracelets. The ward that had been woven was helping, but barely containing the raging shivers of the archways.

Madeline Sedai smiled reassuringly at Soutrik who was stone faced and unemotional, as she led her to the next arch. Soutrik did not try to smile back but simply said, “There is no ‘may have done’ for me Aes Sedai. The bracelets upon my body speak tenfold of what has truly been done.” She blocked the real memories of her sister’s execution that she had only just now recognized as real, and not an archway dream, lest she should break down and cry. No challis of water washed away the sin that she felt burned onto her very soul.

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

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 Soutrik stepped through the second Arch and was again blinded and seared by the Light.

She wore her Accepted’s dress although it was to tight around the wrists as her Novice dress had been. She had her dress tucked up in to her sash so that it made odd shaped balloon like pants. Her feet were bare and they gripped the chalked surface with her toes. The two curved dagger’s gleamed in the sunlight and Sven stood posed on the other side of the sparing ring with his dagger’s in hand.

“Of all the Accepted’s here I would get to spar with in my weapons lesson, it would have to be you?” Soutrik smiled as Sven twirled his dagger’s. Both of their weapons were covered with Air cushions so neither could be hurt. “Don’t hold back now, darling one, I certainly won’t.” Soutrik swished towards him in her pose of Impending Death. It was her favorite opening move. It lead easily to nine other various moves as the person would or could rather only defend in nine ways to this style of attack.

She swished and slithered towards Sven’s whose eyes looked devoid of the usual look of love and caring he had for her. He stood there with out his shirt on, his muscles rippling and distracting her with his gorgeous eyes. I hope he really spars and doesn’t try to hold back on this. Elise and Dai stood to the side of the Gaidin Training Grounds. Elise was ready to spar with Soutrik on daggers, but Sven had showed up and practically demanded they spar.

Her blades spun in her hands. Standing still, he waited for her to attack, but at first she just moved about him with that swishing walk that had a tendency to distract him. It seemed he noticed, for she put more swish into her walk and smirked. Finally she leaped forward, dagger striking towards his neck like a viper. His arm met her wrist and pushed it away, and he stepped in to stab at her stomach. Gracefully, she spun to the side, their arms parting.

From the corner of his eye he saw her move forward towards his back, and he stepped aside so her dagger arm went past him. Again he hooked her arm in his, this time pulling her so she spun like a top. Both of their arms wrapped around her, and he put the Air shielded blade against her throat. Grinning triumphantly, Sven looked down at her. Before he could say anything, however, he felt her elbow slam into his ribs, and he moved back with a cough. She didn't even turn, and kicked him in the solar plexus.

The air rushing out of his body, he stumbled back and looked up at her, seeing her in a new light. She moved into a stance he had never seen before, one hand hanging over head the other down at the side, like a scorpion ready to strike. Lifting his brows, he smiled at her.

"This should be interesting."

Soutrik watched Sven’s light and easy grip on his two blades and assessed his balance. She felt for a man of his size and weight that his balance was good, but she could see that he was favoring his left side as if protecting it. Her concentration was not as it should be though, due to his state of undress. She eyed him from head to toe. His gleaming black hair hung around his neck and face, and his wonderfully bright green eyes squinted at her as if assessing her too. His broad chest and large pectoral muscles had a few scars, and there was one noticeable, rather large scar on his left side ribcage.

Ah, he has been stabbed in the ribs before! For another moment her feelings for him flooded into her. She wanted to ask if he got that scar on his side from some duel or bar brawl. She wanted to reach out to him and touch the old wound, and ask about the pain he had felt, and how he had survived have a knife stuck in his side like that. The part of her that longed to Heal people, and especially him, worried about if she should continue with this little play fight. She did not want to re-open an old wound. He knows what he is doing! He is perfectly fine with this. Don’t you go soft now! She struggled to regain her focus and looked at him again. Oh, he is beautiful! The thickish matte of black curly hair on his chest shouted his manhood. She could not look lower and she felt her cheeks flush. Soutrik shook off the feelings that were again starting to rise, and readied herself, considering her options for attack and methods of defense against an opponent Sven’s size. He was much taller than she, and considerably muscular. He will have strength to his blows, but might not move as quick as I. I will need to use my diminutive size and my speed to my advantage.

Soutrik focused on Sven blocking her feelings for him and concentrating on planning his demise as if he were a blood sworn enemy. Well of course when you are the smaller person you must use tactics rather than brute strength! Aloysha’s voice spoke to Soutrik and caressed her mind. Soutrik rubbed the side of her nose without the nose chain with her thumb, extended her arm towards Sven, and gave him the ‘bring it on’ backwards finger wave.

Sven twirled his blades in a threatening way, standing straight with his arms out to his sides. Soutrik did a little foot shuffle, and swished her hips to tease Sven, and distract him. Her skirt was still tucked in her sash and her curvaceous supple legs were fully exposed. She hoped to use that to her advantage, too. She stood posed with her right arm over head holding the curved dagger outward to the right side with her left arm down a her side and the other curved dagger point outward and forward to the left. Strike the pose of Impending Death!

Sven looked at ease with his arms stretched out at his sides and pointing down a little, blades held loosely. With her fastest speed, Soutrik jumped forward, shifting her weight and sliding onto her left knee across the floor in front of Sven, extending her right leg and foot in a swiping arch towards Sven’s left ankle, to trip Sven's left leg, bringing her right dagger down and under towards his ribs on his left side while raising her left arm in a defensive position. If he fell, he would be ‘injured’ in the same spot that she had noticed had the large scar. She thanked the Light that he had bound the blades with a cushion of Air and would not really hurt him. She hoped he would not fall so easily. I want a man that is worthy of sheaving his blade in my heart. Strike hard, Sven, and defend yourself. Her mind raced and she focused intently grunting a Sharan attack phrase all the while.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

Sven, seeing no way around this sort of attack that he was unfamiliar with, retreated backwards a few paces out of range. Ever on the offensive with a secret defense in tow, Soutrik tucked into a forward roll and came up with both arms extended towards Sven's groin and left leg, daggers forward.

I must stay low to the ground and use his height against him. Make him fight downward not outward. Sven leaped over her, hitting the ground and rolling across the small sparing circle coming up on the other side of her. Turning, he threw out his hands and held the daggers ready.

Dedicated Tyrain had joined Dai and Elise who were watching the two spar. Soutrik noted him and smiled in his general direction. She thought she heard Sven growl a little and she looked at him and back at Tyrain, whose face was now dark and foreboding. Soutrik jumped up from the crouching roll position and kicked outward towards Sven’s head, using his nose as the target, to force Sven backwards. Sven grabbed hold of her foot and pushed it up and back towards her. Soutrik seeing her error, threw her weight up with her other leg and did a split leg back flip in mid-air recovering in a springy standing ready position facing Sven. She smiled at him thinking about how good he was on the defensive. She watched him flex the muscles in his arms and chest slightly, and calculated the risk of another forward attack. Thinking better of it and not really wanting to egg him on into attacking her, she again extended her arm and gave him the ‘bring it on’ backwards finger wave, but this time she blew Sven a kiss with it. “You are no match for me, boy!” She hurled a curse at him in a teasing way. Tyrain laughed outright at Sven’s snarl and Soutrik giggled lightly winking at Tyrain. Soutrik felt the match was over as Sven stepped towards her in a non-chalant manner. She released the source, and smiled at him, watching him move gracefully, Cat Crosses the Courtyard.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

Sven snorted, and grinned at her with a quirked brow, looked at Tyrain with eyes wanting death. He came after her in a giant leap unexpectedly. Tyrain was holding her gaze and he screamed, “Look out Soutrik!” She had already released saidar and her blade was not covered in the shield of Air, and acting out of reflex she stabbed upward in a defensive gab. She stabbed Sven in the chest and the dagger sunk deep into his heart handle sinking to the ribs.

“Sven!” Soutrik yelled as he collapsed in a heap in the middle of the sparing ring. “Get a Yellow, get a Yellow!” Dai and Elise ran in opposite directions to find a Yellow Sister. Tyrain looked stunned and said nothing.

“NO, Sven, I love you, no! Don’t die, hang on, love.” Soutrik embraced and began to weave a Healing thread as she removed the dagger from his chest. Blood gushed forth and Sven twitched and he mouthed words to her, blood flowing from between his lip, “Never forget me….I love you.” The words he spoke ripped her heart out. She needed to Heal him. She was about to when a simmering archway appeared off the sparing platform to the right. She rose and looked down at Sven.

“I can’t abandon you. I love you, Sven. I do not want to go. Oh, Light.” She began to cry and his face was starting to go white and slack. She could not watch him die, she turned and ran through the Archway.

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.”

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

“I hope you will be surprised.” Sven’s arm was wrapped around her waist. The yellow fringe of her shawl stood out boldly on the sleeve of the black silk long jacket that she had given him when he had been Raised. The emerald studded gold hoop earring sparkled from behind black locks of hair. There it was in Sven’s left ear, just as it had since she was a Novice and he an Accepted. They had both made it through the years of training and now, this evening she had been Raised to the Shawl and was a Sister of the Yellow Ajah.

She wanted to go to the party but Sven had said there was something he wanted to surprise her with. He smiled as he had said it and nibbled on her fingers while he kissed her hands. Nuzzling her neck, he had persuaded her to first come get her surprise then go to the party.

She had been intrigued. Sven was an impulsive man when it came to her. He normally was into planning everything, but with her, he was surprises a plenty. He took a deep draw on her Sea Folk perfume, which she still loved and wore daily. Kissing her neck, he began to lead her to her new Aes Sedai Quarters in the Yellow Ajah’s Pie shaped section of the Tower.

Giggling as they strode down the hallway like two young lovers at play in the sunshine light of the world. They approached the room and Soutrik saw a large yellow bow on the door. Sven smiled and placed a bow on top of his head. He was in an extra playful mood. He poked her. She poked him back. He pretended to fly back against the wall.

“Well, aren’t you going to open your present and take what is inside?” Sven smiled with his dashing fabulous mouth. His green eyes pulled on her soul deeply.

“Are you saying that I can, now? Here?” Soutrik looked a little stunned.

“Sure, of course.” Sven bent down and kissed her passionately and lifted her feet right off the floor as she clung to him arms around his neck; his mouth consuming her very soul. She shuttered with delight and was almost overcome with her passions for him.

Soutrik began to weave the flows necessary for bonding a Warder. Sven held her and did not let go as the weave settled on both of them. In a moment, each had the other within their head. Intense love flowed both directions through the bond. Then from Sven, Soutrik sensed tremendous sadness.

“What is it, darling one?” Soutrik pulled back to see a tear in his eye.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

“You are so pure of heart, so kind and gentle. I had always known that you had the heart of a lioness and the gentle warmth of the most caring woman I have ever known. You are everything in the world to me. I know I have never told you so, but now is the time for saying such things. I love you more than life itself. I am so sorry.” Sven opened the door and Soutrik walked through the doorway without looking as she was walking searching Sven’s eyes. She walked in a few feet and still was looking back at Sven who entered behind her and closed the door.

“What are you….?” Soutrik gasped as she turned around to face her new quarters, 12 Aes Sedai sitting on chairs in a semi-circle facing the doorway.

“What are you doing, Sven? Release me please, this instant, please.” She was scared as the women rose from their chairs and with a shushing sound 13 Myrddraal slid from the Shadows.

She tried to scream but Sven gagged her with a Flow of Air. She mouthed the words to him, “Why, my beloved, my darling one, why?” She tried to break free of his grip but he held her tightly. She felt his pain through the bond. He regretted what he did, and he could not do anything about it. He felt helpless, sad, tremendous loss and anger poured through the bond, his face held only sadness and love for her.

The way will come but once, be steadfast.

Just then, Mackenzie Sedai walked through the door singing a congratulations song in the Old Tongue, and as she opened the door, she shocked everyone in the room, as she screamed. Sven let go of Soutrik’s shield and she embraced instantly through her sa’angreals now perfect thanks to Mackenzie and Melanna who had found and mended the flaw. She burned Black Ajah to ash where they sat, Balefire ripping the quarters to shreds and struck out at the Myrddraal’s as they tried to slide into the Shadows.

Sven ran for a GateWay he opened but Soutrik grasped him in a cyclone of air and hurled him to her wall, pinning him there with Air. She embraced through all of her bracelets and squeezed him tight until her released the Source, then she flung a shield around him.

Mackenzie was shivering in a ball in the corner, and the 12 Black Ajah gone, singed from the Pattern itself. Soutrik had blown out the walls of her quarters so that the ceiling sank and dust wafted to and fro in the breeze as the wind whipped through the opening high up on the White Tower, a gapping wound in it’s side.

“Why, Sven?” Soutrik was angry, and she could tell that he felt ashamed of himself. It was plain as the look on his face, the feelings through this bond.

“My love, Soutie.” He said and she scowled at him. “Why not, Soutrik?” Sven asked flippantly. A shimmering archway appeared to her left, and she heard voices running down the hallway towards her room.

She lowered him with all the delicacy that her sa’angreals could afford her. Approaching him she embraced him in her arms and ran her fingers through his raven locks. She loved him still, and she could tell that he loved her. How can I love him he is a Darkfriend? She kissed him and he returned her kisses with all the passion that spoke of years of love and devotion to one another. He was now her Warder and she his Aes Sedai, she could feel the bonds effects on her. She knew what it meant. She could be influenced by him and his emotions now. She searched his heart for the Darkness he had shown only moments ago and found it lurking like a gloomy shadow. She turned from him and left him hanging there on the wall and walked through the archway, a vile taste in her mouth, and anger in her heart. Betrayal, and hatred. And she still loved him now as always, and could not help herself, even now, after learning he was Black Ajah. She felt she betrayed the Tower by not killing him instantly, but she had bonded him just moments ago.

Into the room with a angry stomp, Soutrik 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.

She did not hear any words. She blocked everything from her mind. She was chilled to the bone.

After - Ariana Sedai, Amyrlin Seat

Soutrik came out of the Arches, her face a mask of blank pain and as Ariana poured the water over the tiny woman's head, she wondered, Must we all come out of the Arches filled with pain and remorse?

"You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us clean, in heart and soul. You are Soutrik, 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 Ariana leaned over to kiss the dark skinned woman's cheek. Slipping the ring on the third finger of her left hand, Ariana tried to give the woman a reassuring smile, but what could one person do when the memories were still fresh? "Congratulations, Accepted Soutrik."